The first battle between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, waged in 2004 at the MGM Grand, became an instant classic featuring one of the most stirring comebacks in boxing history. The rematch, fought almost four years later at Mandalay Bay, was arguably even more action-packed and punishing than the first fight. And both bouts were as controversial as they were thrilling - to this day, there is nothing resembling a consensus on who won either fight. Our roundtable of boxing experts, including Jim Lampley and Harold Lederman, follows the same trend: Everyone has a different perspective on who won and why.
After hearing from the experts, cast your own vote on who deserved the victory in the first fight, the rematch, and who you think will win the third matchup.
May 8, 2004
(Pacquiao D 12 Marquez)
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Harold Lederman (HBO unofficial scorer): I thought Manny Pacquiao won by several points, but Marquez certainly had his moments. There's an old axiom in boxing: The public loves to see the loser win. In other words, if a guy's getting the crap kicked out of him, and all of a sudden he comes back and stages a sensational rally, they love to see the guy that's behind do that. So when Juan Manuel Marquez came back and fought his heart out, after it looked like he wasn't going to survive the first round, people might have let that affect their scoring. But I just felt that you couldn't take the fight away from Manny. He was landing the harder shots and doing more damage.
Jim Lampley (HBO blow-by-blow announcer): What I've always said about the first fight, which is one of the most fascinating fights I've ever seen, is that within the bizarre scoring scenario that the three judges produced, there is a certain logic to all three scorecards. If you are the kind of scorer who's driven to favor the go-forward aggressor, there's no way you're going to have Pacquiao losing after he knocks Marquez down three times in the first round. So that 115-110 scorecard for Pacquiao from judge John Stewart is utterly understandable and interpretable. If you're the kind of scorer who favors pure craft, who's sophisticated enough to see that the back-up counterpuncher can control the fight, then there's a ton of logic to Guy Jutras' 115-110 scorecard that favored Marquez. And if you understand both of those scores, how can you not understand the 113-113 draw scored by Burt Clements? So in a very weird way, it was a valid draw.
Dan Rafael (ESPN.com boxing writer): I strongly believe that Marquez won the fight, and I believed that the moment the fight ended. And what made me believe it even more was that after the fight, I rode up the elevator to the press conference with Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, and [promoter] Murad Muhammad, and saw an image that I will never forget as long as I live. There was Manny Pacquiao, completely busted up, leaning against the little rail in the elevator, looking as dejected as you could possibly be after a fight. He knew that he lost that fight. He won't tell anybody that, but that's what I saw: a completely destroyed fighter making his way to the press conference.
David Diaz (former lightweight titleholder and Pacquiao opponent): I've always said that I thought Marquez won it, even though he got knocked down three times in the first round. I think he came back and did what he was supposed to do from the get-go, boxing and moving and hitting Pacquiao. In that first round, we were all like, Oh my God, this guy Pacquiao is unbelievable. We were amazed that he would be able to do something like that to Marquez. But even more amazing was how Marquez got up and went at it. After that 10-6 first round, Marquez took over the fight. I felt that he got robbed, to be honest.
March 15, 2008
(Pacquiao W 12 Marquez)
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Lampley: To me, this was a one- or two-point fight either way. It was a great fight, and it showed, as did the first fight, the pure combat constitution of both fighters; more than any two opponents I've seen other than Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, these are two guys who are going to go right back at each other any time the other guy makes a mark. Every single time that Pacquiao made a mark, Marquez could not resist driving forward at him and trying to land the right hand. And every single time that Marquez drove forward and landed the right hand, Manny couldn't resist trying to come back. It was a more physically punishing fight than Pacquiao-Marquez I, for the simple reason that Marquez wasn't visibly engaged in the process of backing up and tying Pacquiao in knots. In this fight, Marquez fought more aggressively from the beginning.
Wayne McCullough (former bantamweight titleholder and television boxing analyst): Although I thought Pacquiao deserved a close decision in the first fight, I thought Marquez won the rematch. It was a different type of fight. And I think what happened is that Pacquiao, with his style, jumping in, jumping out, it sort of catches the judge's eye. That could be the reason that he won the decision. But I felt Marquez should have gotten it by a point or two.
Kevin Iole (Yahoo! Sports boxing writer): I remember just sighing when I was trying to score some of the rounds. I had to take a second to think about who won the round. Did you go for Pacquiao's power and the damage he did, or Marquez's counterpunching and ring generalship? It was a very, very close fight. I had it for Marquez, but I didn't feel strongly one way or the other about who deserved the decision. What stands out in my mind was the final minute of the fight. Marquez got rocked during the 12th round, and with about a minute left, I was thinking, I don't know if he has the strength to finish. And then this reserve kicked in, and Pacquiao was being Pacquiao, and it was just an incredible show of courage on both guys' part. I remember being amazed that Marquez could fight as hard as he did as late in the fight as he did, taking the shots he was taking.
Lederman: I scored it for Pacquiao by three points, I thought Manny did a little bit more in enough of the rounds, but I tell you, Marquez has a style that always gives Pacquiao problems. It's like how Kenny Norton was for Muhammad Ali. The southpaw style of Manny Pacquiao has baffled just about everyone that he's fought, where he hits you with left hands you don't see coming. But somehow Marquez is able to fight right through it. Marquez has fast hands, and that straight right hand that he throws is terrific. Even though I thought Manny won the second fight, it's never easy with Marquez.
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