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 presenting the first three fights between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez over the next few weeks. 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 your scorecard and read the below guide to re-watching Pacquiao-Marquez I:
In Short: Pac-Man nearly scores a first-round blowout with three knockdowns, but Marquez earns a draw with a comeback for the ages.
Crunching the Numbers: The overall CompuBox numbers indicate the closeness of the fight, with Pacquiao a bit busier (a 639 to 547 edge in punches thrown), Marquez more accurate (a 29% to 23% edge in connect percentage), and the total number of connects almost identical (158 for Marquez, 148 for Pacquiao). Perhaps the most amazing stat is that, according to CompuBox, Marquez actually outlanded Pacquiao in the opening round! The Mexican hit the canvas three times, but went 13-for-40 on offense, whereas Pacquiao went just 11-for-73. Part of the problem for Pacquiao was that his right jab whiffed all 42 times he threw it. His straight left, however, did connect a few times, and three of those connects resulted in knockdowns.
What Deserves a Second Look: For starters, get a load of how one-dimensional Pacquiao was in 2004 as compared to now (this was before he developed a right hook). At the same time, spend the first three minutes of action admiring just how good that one dimension was. Over the next 11 rounds, watch how Marquez begins countering Pacquiao’s left hand. Notice how he controls the pace (Pacquiao’s punch output dips from 75 thrown per round in rounds one and two to just 40 per round over the final 10), works to the body, and gets in range to land his straight right hand, particularly in the fifth round. Most of all, keep in mind the guts of both fighters; what Marquez does over the last 10 rounds is astounding given what happened in the opener, but so too is Pacquiao’s continued ability to win rounds with sheer drive and tenacity after Marquez begins to “figure him out.”
Scorecard Tips: Each round needs to be assessed on its own individual merit. This was a fight that contained massive swings in momentum. But when you’re scoring, the momentum of the previous round doesn’t carry over. Start with a clean slate at the beginning of each three-minute stanza. For more general scoring advice, check out our ‘How to Score a Fight’ primer with HBO’s unofficial judge, Harold Lederman.