MANILA, Philippines—Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao’s conquest of his greatest nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) was not met with jubilance that usually follows his victories.
The frenzied crowd, mostly Mexicans, at the sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas wasted no time in showing great displeasure at the result. While in a rare sighting, most fans, across the globe here in Manila, filed out of the venues of the viewing parties—puzzled.
It wasn’t that they were not in a celebratory mood once ring announcer Michael Buffer uttered the words “and still the WBO Welterweight champion of the world.” It was just that the celebration of the majority decision did not last long.
It was more of a sigh of relief than a convincing roar of delight—that was the collective reaction of the spectators at the Hard Rock Cafe in a mall in Makati.
Virgilio Cruz, 58, who watched at Hard Rock with his family, told his wife shortly after the fight, “He [Pacquiao] should have lost today.”
The same reaction from fans all over the world reverberated on Twitter: Pacquiao might have not been the convincing winner of this greatly hyped third clash.
“I’m a Pacquiao fan, but I saw a Mexican win tonight,” said Juan Vidal on his Twitter account (@kaizerdouken).
“(I believe) Marquez won the fight. The best Pacman could have gotten was a draw,” echoed Berwin Yambao (@iamwin47).
“Manny (Pacquiao) won, but he didn’t prove he’s the winner of the trilogy,” said Emerson Kim (@emersonkim).
Here’s the thing—the third fight was supposed to settle the score between the two—but instead, it just raised more questions than answers as to who owns this epic trilogy.
Even some boxing experts and foreign writers, who have been keeping tabs on Pacquiao in the past decade, believed the decision should have went in Marquez’s favor.
“I scored it 116-112 for Marquez. Highway robbery,” said Sports Illustrated‘s NBA and Boxing writer Chris Mannix on his Twitter account (@chrismannixSI). “Competitive fight. I thought wrong decision.”
ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who also covers the NBA, thought it should have been a draw.
“Great fight. Tough to call. I’d say a draw or Marquez,” Broussard posted on @Chris_Broussard. “I don’t think Manny thinks he won, based on his reaction…bad decision…”
The result was debatable—but the truth was, it wasn’t one of Pacquiao’s best performances. In all of his stellar career, Marquez was probably that one fighter who gave him all he could handle—all three times they met.
“I really think if these guys fought ten more times, every round would be close. They are perfect foes,” added Mannix.
“These boxers are made for each other,” said ESPN’s Dan Rafael on his Twitter (@danrafaelESPN).
Some fans, though, think the victory was some sort of coincidental “payback” for the first fight which ended in a draw in 2004. Pacquiao should have claimed the victory if the judges had scored the first round, where Pacquiao floored Marquez thrice, correctly.
“Let me just say Pacquiao was cheated a victory in their 1st fight and got the same break now,” shared Cesar Delos Reyes (Tito Ces).
“Come to think of it, Manny [Pacquiao] got robbed in first fight,” said Inquirer’s football reporter Cedelf Tupas (@cedelfpt).
But maybe the fans, through half of the past decade, got used to Pacquiao pulverizing his opponents that anything short of a knockout was a fluke.
“For fight fans, Pacquiao is in the same boat as (Anderson) Silva and GSP [George St-Pierre]. If they don’t destroy their opponents, it’s not enough,” said TV analyst and former PBA player Jason Webb (@Jason_Webb_Phil).
“Manny Pacquiao has spoiled all of you. Just because he didn’t demolish him, he didn’t win?” asked Chris Ross (@cmross6) of the Meralco Bolts in the Philippine Basketball Association.
But even Marquez, who has never been able to floor Pacquiao in all of the 36 rounds they battled in the ring, could have used a knockdown to sway the judges.
“In order for him to win, he should have KO’d Manny. But he did not. So Manny [is] still the champ!” exclaimed Girl Pacino (@girl_pacino).
And just like the fans from all over the world whose opinions are clashing, Pacquiao and Marquez themselves, in their three fights, still will never concede on who truly won.
Pacquiao believed he “won the fight,” while Marquez remained puzzled on “what I need to do so the judges will see I won.”
And if a fourth bout between the two ring icons pushes through, it won’t come as a surprise if Marquez sports a shirt that says: “I beat Pacquiao thrice.”