LAS VEGAS – In Manny Pacquiao’s dressing room after his knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, trainer Freddie Roach said he was caught by surprise when the end came suddenly at 2:59 of the sixth round at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here Saturday night.
“I thought we had it,” said Roach, replaying the final sequence in his mind. “Manny never saw it coming. It was a two-inch punch, Manny got caught as he was swinging. That happens in boxing. Marquez’ nose was busted, he was banged up. He was ready to go and Manny knew it. Manny got careless as he was going for a knockout.”
Roach didn’t insinuate that Marquez took any kind of performance-enhancing-drug to gain strength but said his body looked “unnatural.” “I never accused him of anything,” he qualified. “But (Angel) Hernandez’ dad told me about a neurologist who can help my Parkinson’s, maybe they know something we don’t. No excuses. I give credit to Marquez, he worked hard to win. It was his night.”
Roach said it’s not impossible to come back from such a devastating loss. “I was stopped twice in my career but both times, I was on my feet,” he said. “There could be some psychological effect on Manny but you can’t tell until he goes back to the gym. If he wants to come back fighting, we’ll be ready.”
As for a fifth encounter with Roach, he said it’s possible. “Sure, I’d like another fight,” said Roach. “I wouldn’t suggest it for Manny’s next fight. I think he should a tune-up, maybe in Manila, just to clear the cobwebs and get back on track. After the tune-up, we’ll evaluate if he wants to fight Marquez again or somebody else.”
Roach said he wasn’t alarmed when Marquez dropped Pacquiao with a looping right hook in the third round. “Manny wasn’t hurt,” he said. “It was a wild swing and Marquez connected but Manny fought back. In the fifth, I thought Marquez was going. Manny floored him with a left and banged him up in a corner. The referee (Kenny Bayless) seemed close to jumping in.”
Pacquiao led on the three judges’ scorecards, 47-46 each, when the end came. The fight played out as advertised – it was an all-out war with the protagonists unloading power shots from the start. Pacquiao threw 256 punches, landing 94, including 68 power blows while Marquez fired 246, connecting on 52 with 41 power shots. Even in the jab department, Pacquiao was ahead, 26 of 108 compared to Marquez’ 11 of 96. But it took just one punch to put an end to the dramatic quadrilogy.
There was no change in Marquez’ fight plan – he countered patiently as expected. Pacquiao was more aggressive and took the initiative in the first two rounds like he promised. The Filipino said he would fight Marquez like he used to when he was in his 20s. He came storming in with little lateral movement, looking for a quick knockout. Pacquiao nearly had it in the fifth but Marquez, with his new-found strength, survived the assault and came back to score a sensational knockout.
Pacquiao was never floored by bigger opponents like Oscar de la Hoya, Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito but that was because his defense held up. Against a physically souped-up Marquez, Roach said Pacquiao became overconfident and even a bit cocky. He paid the price.