by Eric Raskin
As we build toward the fourth chapter in one of the most action-packed, closely contested rivalries boxing has ever known, HBO.com is re-playing the first three fights between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. It’s a chance to re-live the excitement—and re-score the bouts. The judges say the first fight was a draw and the next two belonged to Pacquiao. But you get a say as well. So watch, score, and tell us who you thought won these classic, controversial battles.
But first, print out your scorecard and read the below guide to re-watching Pacquiao-Marquez II:
In Short: In the most physically punishing battle of the trilogy, a third-round knockdown of Marquez keys a controversial split decision win for Pacquiao.
Crunching the Numbers: Though Pacquiao won the decision, the CompuBox stats favored Marquez. Pacquiao was busier, out-throwing his Mexican rival by a count of 619-511, but Marquez out-landed him 172-157, outscored him in power connects 130-114, and landed at a higher overall percentage, 34%-25%. The most eye-catching round in Marquez’s favor was the eighth, a stanza in which he out-landed Pac-Man 21-5. So what happens if you take that one-sided round out of the equation? Pacquiao out-landed Marquez 152-151 punches over the other 11 rounds. In other words, remove Marquez’s best round and it’s basically a dead-even fight. If you figure the knockdown Pacquiao scored during round three in some sense balances out Marquez’s dominant eighth round, then you can see why everyone agreed this fight was basically too close to call.
What Deserves a Second Look: The whole fight is worth watching again from an action perspective; these were two great champions, in their primes, dishing out a beating to one another. Both men landed at a higher percentage than in the first fight—another reason this could be considered the “best” fight of the rivalry. As you’re scoring the fight, pay particularly close attention to round six. That’s the one that Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, recently re-watched and admitted to the “24/7” cameras that his man probably lost, despite two of the judges scoring it for Pacquiao. Also, have fun rewinding and repeatedly re-watching the counter left from Pacquiao that dropped Marquez in the third round. It was a cleaner, harder punch than any of the left-hand shots he used to produce knockdowns in their first fight, and it’s a testament to Marquez’s conditioning and iron will that he recovered so quickly.
Scorecard Tips: Remember that scoring fights is not just punch counting. The impact of the punch matters. So, while determining the impact of a punch is often subjective, try to consider who seems to be hurting whom more in a given round. To paraphrase HBO’s Max Kellerman’s scoring philosophy, ask yourself which fighter you’d rather be at the end of the round, and that’s probably the guy who deserves 10 points. For more general scoring advice, check out our ‘How to Score a Fight’ primer with HBO’s unofficial judge, Harold Lederman.