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 this guide to re-watching Pacquiao-Marquez III:
In Short: Despite prefight expectations that Pacquiao has outgrown Marquez and will knock him out, 8-1 underdog JMM boxes brilliantly – but not brilliantly enough to prevent an unpopular decision from going Pacquiao’s way.
Crunching the Numbers: If Marquez supporters are searching for reasons Pacquiao got the decision, the CompuBox numbers offer plenty of them. For starters, Pacquiao threw more punches than Marquez in every single round, and we’ve seen time and again that judges tend to favor the busier boxer. Pac-Man also out-landed Marquez over the course of 12 rounds, 117-100 in power punches and 59-38 in jabs. Marquez, however, was more efficient, landing at a slightly higher percentage overall, 32% to 30%. To those who scored for Marquez, it seemed his punches were landing cleaner and he was dictating the style and pace of the fight (both fighters threw fewer shots than in either of their previous two encounters). But the punch stats told a story consistent with the judging.
What Deserves a Second Look: Keep an eye on the footwork of each man throughout the fight; there’s a pronounced contrast between Pacquiao bouncing and pouncing and Marquez trying to time him while remaining relatively stationary. When the ninth round comes along, just sit back and enjoy it. That was one of the best rounds of the trilogy and it featured both men throwing more punches than in any other round of this fight as they went shot for shot in a series of aggressive exchanges. Also, watch the body language after the fight and when the decision is announced. Marquez exudes complete confidence—until the scores are read, when that confidence is replaced by disbelief and then disgust.
Scorecard Tips: Don’t let prefight expectations cloud your judgment. When scoring a fight, some observers have an unconscious tendency to give rounds – especially the early rounds – to the fighter they were expecting to win, while some others lean the opposite way and score for the fighter who is surprising them just by keeping it close. Pacquiao-Marquez III was a fight in which almost everyone came in expecting the Filipino to prevail, and assumptions like that can be hard to ignore when scoring the rounds. However, viewers should have no preconceived notions as they watch the fight again more than a year later. You know how it turned out. Be objective and score each round on its own merits, paying no mind to what your opinions of Pacquiao and Marquez were heading into the night of November 12, 2011. For more general scoring advice, check out our ‘How to Score a Fight’ primer with HBO’s unofficial judge, Harold Lederman.