Manny Pacquiao lifted his arms in triumph Saturday night, but any joy he might have felt was tempered by an unusual sound inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Boos. Lots of them. For him.
Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez engaged in a scintillating 12-round fight, but the result left a sellout crowd of 16,368 less than satisfied.
Why? Because even though Pacquiao won a majority decision from the three judges, the feeling throughout the arena was that Marquez should have won.
He threw the bigger shots, was the more aggressive fighter and seemed to maintain control of the bout, even if just slightly. Still, judges Glenn Trowbridge (116-112) and Dave Moretti (115-113) favored Pacquiao. Robert Hoyle called it a 114-114 draw.
Marquez, who claimed he was robbed in two earlier meetings with Pacquiao (one a draw, one a loss), left the ring to a chorus of cheers. Pacquiao, standing in the center of the ring, had his post-fight remarks almost drowned out by jeers.
“It was clear to me I won,” Pacquiao said. “I clearly won.”
Well, not so clearly. Although there were wonderful exchanges, you couldn’t help but feel that Marquez threw the more effective combinations, landed the more forceful punches, did the most damage. But it was close.
“This is robbery of the utmost,” said Marquez’s trainer, Nacho Beristain.
So now what?
“I am bound and determined to find a definitive winner once and for all,” promoter Bob Arum said. “If I can get both fighters to agree, I’d like to do a fourth fight once and for all.”
As it is, their trilogy stands at 2-0-1 in Pacquiao’s favor. But to the Filipino champion’s credit, he said yes, he will give Marquez another shot.
But a rematch might not be in the cards. Marquez said he was so frustrated by the result that he is considering retirement. Of course, a payday of $10 million or more could change his mind.
"Honestly, I don’t know what I need to do to change the minds of the judges," he said. "Everybody knows what happened. I think I won this fight. It’s very frustrating."
And what about those boos?
“They’re Marquez fans,” Pacquiao said. “I understand how the crowd feels, but I blocked a lot of his punches. He’s a counterpuncher. He butted me a lot.”
That’s debatable. But Marquez’s style is not something Pacquiao seems able to adjust to. He often appeared to move into Marquez’s strength, and he paid the price.
“It’s Marquez’s style, what can I say,” Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said. “It was real close. I wanted Manny to move more to his right, but he didn’t.”
The first few rounds lacked much action, but Marquez (53-6-1) fired a couple of good right hands in the second, and by the fifth they were both throwing hard shots. In the fifth, Marquez landed a good left uppercut, and then followed it later with a big right that seemed to knock Pacquiao off balance.
Make no mistake, Pacquiao (54-3-2) had his moments. He fired lefts and rights, but they always seemed to be in retaliation for a Marquez combination — and they made for terrific exchanges that put the crowd on its feet.
The crowd rose again when the decision was announced, but not to cheer Pacquiao. It was to tell him they didn’t think he had won.
They had a point.
In the main undercard bout, Timothy Bradley easily dispatched veteran Joel Casamayor, scoring a technical knockout with one second left in the eighth round of a scheduled 12-rounder.
Casamayor (38-6-1) did more grabbing and holding than punching. He clearly had no interest in making it a fight, going down in the fifth and sixth rounds against the light-hitting Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs). After he was dropped again under a barrage of punches in the eighth, his corner entered the ring as referee Vic Drakulich was giving an eight count.
The win allowed Bradley, of Palm Springs, Calif., to keep his WBO 140-pound title belt.
But in today’s marketplace, belts don’t matter. Fights do, which is why Pacquiao and Marquez probably will do this one more time.