Viewpoint: Pleading for the Fifth

By Andreas Hale May 29, 2014
Will Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez add a fifth chapter to their rivalry? | Photo: Dave Mandel/

After Juan Manuel Marquez defeated Mike Alvarado in a relatively entertaining but one-sided victory on May 17, all of the attention immediately turned toward a potential fifth meeting with Manny Pacquiao. Aside from Marquez becoming the mandatory challenger to Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight championship, it is the only fight that makes business sense for the Filipino superstar and Top Rank. Not to mention the “Pac-Man” is ready to cross off another name on his “Kill Bill”-style revenge list now that he has corrected the 2012 judgment error against Timothy Bradley.

Everyone seems to be thrilled at the prospect of these two squaring off in what is sure to be an entertaining affair -- everyone, that is, except Marquez. When asked by HBO’s Max Kellerman whether or not he wanted the fifth fight with Pacquiao after his latest victory, Marquez circled the wagons for a bit and was reluctant to suggest the bout against Pacquiao would be his next.

“I’m not making a decision on Pacquiao right now,” he said, noting he already obtained the justice he sought by knocking out the eight-division champion in 2012. “I felt great in the fight and I know I did a great job, but let me see how I feel in a couple of weeks. I am not making a decision on a Pacquiao fight right away. I’m going to rest and think about it.”

Considering that Marquez wants to become the first Mexican to win titles in five divisions, all roads currently go through Pacquiao. However, making history might not be more important than the lasting sight of Pacquiao’s unconscious body lying on the canvas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It set the combat sports world on fire.

More than anything he has accomplished, or could ever accomplish, that will be the biggest moment of his career. Anybody who writes about Marquez’s status among the all-time pound-for-pound greats will certainly cite the Pacquiao knockout before anything else. A casual boxing fan could care less what world titles he held. All that person can remember is the night Marquez’s counter right hand tucked in Pacquiao for a long-lasting canvas slumber. Obviously, Pacquiao wants the rematch more than Marquez; and the fact that Marquez’s hesitation for another rematch is eating at Pacquiao only fuels the Mexican standout’s reluctance to give in.

The truth: Marquez agreeing to fight Pacquiao for a fifth time will effectively place him in a no-win zone. Furthermore, Marquez is completely satisfied with how he ended their rivalry. Even though he is still down in the series by a 1-2-1 margin, many believe Marquez was robbed in no less than two of those fights. The Marquez knockout was the only definitive victory by either side. The other three fights -- a majority decision for Pacquiao, a split decision for Pacquiao and a split draw -- could all have gone Marquez’s way. Those three decisions left Marquez bitter, and before their fourth encounter, he was viewed as the B-side to Pacquaio’s A-side.

That is not the case anymore. Despite what the record says, Marquez has the upper hand. It makes sense that Marquez would deny giving Pacquiao the satisfaction of another rematch. Why risk another fight he thinks he won going to the judges, only to see Pacquiao’s hand raised and a Cheshire cat grin plastered across his face? No thank you. Should he do it for the money? Marquez has plenty of it. Should he do it for the fans? His fans believe the only way he can win is by knocking out Pacquiao again. What about historical accolades? If he wants another world title, he can find another way.

Let us say Marquez was to relent and face Pacquiao later this year. Even if Marquez beat Pacquiao in their fifth fight, it would put the series at 2-2-1. Pacquiao supporters might demand a sixth fight with Marquez in order to break the tie. By then, Marquez would be staring age 42 in the face and would likely have seen some deterioration in his skill; and he would surely be sick of seeing Pacquiao’s face.

This is not a case of “I beat you once, and I can beat you again,” because Marquez believes he has beaten Pacquiao four times, only to be credited with one victory. That sole win was the result of a knockout. In his mind, the chances of being robbed if it goes to the scorecards are high. Marquez is not a one-punch knockout artist, despite the Pacquiao wipeout and the 40 KOs among his 56 victories. That picture-perfect punch was lightning in a bottle and unlikely to happen again in that manner.

We must also keep in mind that before Pacquiao ate the counterpunch from hell, he was shredding Marquez with power shots throughout the sixth round. This was not complete domination from Marquez. Rather, this was arguably Mexico’s greatest counterpuncher finding the narrowest of windows to rescue his night from a Pacquiao typhoon that was building steam.

Of course we want to see Marquez and Pacquiao get it on again. The two were made for each other and have yet to let us down inside the squared circle; but we are being selfish with our wants, are we not? We wanted Marquez to tell Kellerman that he does not want Pacquiao next; he wants him now. We wanted to see the fire in his eyes. We wanted Marquez to say he is going to knock out his biggest rival again and send him into retirement.

That is not what happened. The reality is Marquez has to consider his legacy and what is at risk. Should he lose to Pacquiao, the lasting memory of the knockout will be tainted and he will fall to 1-3-1 in their series. All the momentum he gained will be gone. He will become the Joe Frazier to Pacquiao’s Ali, the Roberto Duran to Pacquiao’s “Sugar” Ray Leonard, the Jake Lamotta to the Filipino’s “Sugar” Ray Robinson.

With that said, Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum is not going to allow Marquez to walk away from the biggest fight that can be made for Pacquiao outside of Floyd Mayweather Jr. All the primping and posturing Marquez is doing will only allow him to get a greater share of the purse.

They will fight again, but it will be on Marquez’s terms.


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