Marquez: “What do I have to do?”

A dejected Juan Manuel Marquez walked into the MGM conference room after a scene that was all too familiar to the proud Mexican champion. Another twelve rounds with Manny Pacquiao and another decision that didn’t go his way.

For Marquez, this was the Mexican painting a beautiful portrait only to see it thrown in the trash yet again by the judges. This time, there was an overwhelming air in the MGM Grand Garden Arena that Marquez would finally even the score. But after being an overwhelming underdog who executed a brilliant game plan that featured effective counterpunching that gave Pacquiao fits, Marquez had to listen to the judges’ scores of 114-114, 115-113 and 116-112 to once again give Pacquiao the decision. Marquez is understandably sick of the same story being played out and uttered a statement to the media that was shocking but perhaps made perfect sense to a man who did all he could to see the rug pulled from under him again.

“Honestly, I don’t know what I need to do to change the minds of the judges,” Marquez (53-6-1) said. “I need to sit down with my family and figure out whether I will continue or retire from this sport.”

Retire? Although at first it sounds outlandish that a fighter who pushed the seemingly invincible Manny Pacquiao to the brink on three occasions would consider walking away from the sport, if you put yourself in Marquez’ shoes, it might make more sense.

At 38-years-old, Marquez has accomplished just about everything he could as a fighter. A former world champion, a pound for pound great and arguably one of the finest fighters Mexico has given to the sport. But despite all of the accomplishments, he can’t get over the hump known as Pacquiao. While the rest of the planet has bowed down to Pacquiao’s punching prowess, Marquez scoffs and has proceeded to bring Super Manny crashing back down to earth with his gloves laced with kryptonite. But what do you do when you have beat Pacquiao in the minds of many at least one out of three times but find yourself 0-2-1? Sooner or later the frustration sets in and you realize that nothing you can possibly do will put you in the win column.

“I thought I won this fight more clearly than the other two fights. I don’t know what else I can do,” Marquez said. “Honestly, the result of the fight has made me considering retirement. I worked very hard and ended up with this.”

However, despite the looming cloud of a superfight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Top Rank’s Bob Arum realizes that there’s unfinished business regardless of what the official scorecards say.

“Maybe one day this battle will get settled but this one sure didn’t do it,” Arum said. “I would advise both Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez to do this again in May.”
May? Isn’t that when Floyd Mayweather allegedly threw down the gauntlet for a proposed showdown with Pacqauiao? Well, it appears that nobody is comfortable with moving on to a fight with Mayweather if this Marquez business continues to linger.

Even Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach wasn’t too happy with the victory and knows that the third fight did less to close the book and instead added another chapter.

“This is a fight that I kind of don’t want to do again but I think we have to,” Roach said. “He’s given us problems three times and I do believe he deserve a rematch before we face Mayweather.”

A Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight may be the one the world wants to see, but boxing pundits know better. You have to finish your breakfast before moving on to dinner. And Pacquiao clearly hasn’t put away Marquez. Nobody seems comfortable with this win, well, maybe except for Pacquiao.

“I think I won pretty clearly,” Pacquiao (54-3-2) said after getting a laceration over his right eye stitched up. Although the words spilled out of his mouth with the usual Pacquiao confidence, his face told a different story. It wasn’t the world beater that we have come to know in the ring on Saturday night. This was a Pacquiao who had to gut it out against a man who certainly has his number. Pacquiao struggled mightily with Marquez’ counterpunching but was aggressive enough to convince the judges that this fight was his.

“Marquez always waits for me to create action so he can counter. It’s not easy to do that. I was very careful,” Pacquiao explained. “I have to accept that it’s not easy to fight Marquez”

No, it’s certainly not easy for Pacquiao to fight Marquez. Who knows what the future holds for these two fighters. Perhaps they will move on and eye a showdown with Mayweather and let the record books tell who won this trilogy. But maybe the truth that Marquez, not Mayweather, was the man that Pacquiao couldn’t get past will gnaw at him enough to give way to a fourth fight and maybe jeopardize the megafight. What if Marquez retires though?

There are tons of questions that need answering and the only thing that’s for sure after Marquez vs. Pacquiao III is that nothing is for sure.

Story by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone