NOTHING prepared us for yesterday’s Juan Manuel Marquez Day.
Manny Pacquiao dropping to the canvas in the third round was totally unexpected. Deep inside we knew that Marquez had no real knockout punch. He was, after all, the counterpuncher.
In the first two rounds, Marquez really did nothing until Pacquiao started the action.
The stigma was then erased when Pacquiao got back and floored Marquez in the fifth round with a left. The old Manny was back, we whispered collectively. We wanted him to finish off the brave Mexican warrior to write an end to this extended rivalry.
But then nothing prepared us for the last-second shocker from Marquez at the end of the sixth round. With his nose busted and looking like he was on the verge of another frustrating evening with Pacquiao, Marquez uncorked a thunderous right that knocked Pacquiao out cold.
We have seen many boxers drop in the way Pacquiao fell: A twist from the impact of the blow and then a straight fall, face down to the canvas. It is a knockdown of the frightening kind because you worry about the fate of the defeated boxer.
The panic on Jinkee Pacquiao’s face was understandable: A boxing wife’s worst fears were playing out in front of her. We were actually all feeling like her and we could only breathe easy after Pacquiao’s head was partially raised by the attending medical team and then moments later, he could stand up on his own.
Marquez’s bulking up was clear and it helped him withstand Pacquiao’s punches and unleash more power of his own.
Veteran ring announcer Bob “The Colonel” Sheridan, whom we met in Manila for the Pacquiao-Oscar Larios fight years ago and in Las Vegas for other bouts, felt in his commentary that Marquez seemed slower than usual. He was also not prepared for the big Marquez shot that ended the fight.
The most difficult questions to answer now for Pacquiao will be quo vadis, or what’s next for him. Pacquiao will now be not exempt from the losing boxer’s downtime in which he will be allowed to recover from the big shot of Marquez and contemplate his next move.
Another Marquez fight is out of the question for now, unless Bob Arum and Top Rank see something down the road that we do not see.
A fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. could still happen but this big loss to Marquez will fuel Mayweather’s tale about his being better than Pacquiao. He probably has another reason to avoid Pacquiao.
I think it’s best to give Pacquiao space for now. He’s been in the fight game for so long and knows what’s best for him. If retirement lurks around the corner because of this huge knockout by Marquez that threatened his safety, then we should allow him to think about it.
It is hard to imagine a world without Pacquiao but life will definitely roll along long after the Pacman hangs up his gloves.
We are all hurting after Pacquiao’s loss, a feeling I shared with PBA players Rommel Adducul and Gary David who were part of the Greenhills theatre audience where I took in the fight.
And yet Pacquiao will remain forever the hero who made the world stop and watch a Filipino conquer.
For all we know, this hero is not yet done and will answer the question of “What’s next?” on his own terms.