LAS VEGAS—Manny Pacquiao’s style is tailor-fit for Juan Manuel Marquez, Freddie Roach has determined long ago.
After his favorite ward held his own against Marquez in their first three fights, the Hall of Fame trainer simply had no doubts Saturday night that Pacquiao’s speed, power and explosiveness could still overwhelm the Mexican counterpuncher’s defenses.
But having emerged the winner in the second and third bouts by the slimmest of margins, it was paramount for Roach and Pacquiao to decisively break Marquez’s defensive arsenal in the fourth fight.
For a while there, they were successful as Pacquiao darted in and out while throwing more punches to take the first two rounds.
But old habits die hard and Marquez finally exploited a Pacquiao offensive lapse in which he tends to drop his guard after firing punches, according to several keen boxing observers of the Filipino’s career.
In his haste to dispose of Marquez, Pacquiao got tagged by a looping right and dropped to the canvas in the third round.
Pacquiao, who came in at 147 lb during Friday’s weigh-in, managed to get up immediately and fight back, but Marquez saw something as he sat on his stool during the break: Pacquiao was being watered down, his eyes still glassy.
Marquez, who weighed 143 lb despite looking ripped, won the fourth round but it was his turn to be knocked down by Pacquiao’s left in the fifth round. The impact wasn’t that solid, but it was enough for a shaken Marquez to be given the count.
Pacquiao pressed his attack in the sixth, mainly focusing on Marquez’s bloody nose, and appeared to be on his way to easily winning the round until the Mexican unloaded the killer short, right counter that cut down the eight-division world champion like a log.
The victory rewarded Marquez with the WBO Champion of the Decade belt dangled for the non-title welterweight bout.
Roach’s fear that Pacquiao could turn out to be a sucker again to Marquez’s right if he doesn’t watch it turned out to be prophetic.
Asked why Marquez didn’t attack as he had promised, trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain said in Spanish: “The finest boxers don’t go toe-to-toe.”
Interjecting, Marquez said: “I fight intelligently.”
With the way the fight turned out, Pacquiao can’t dispute that.