Juan Manuel Marquez’s ‘perfect punch’ KOs Manny Pacquiao

Juan Manuel Marquez knocks out Manny Pacquiao. Picture: AP
Juan Manuel Marquez knocks out Manny Pacquiao. Picture: AP
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JUAN Manuel Marquez knocked Manny Pacquiao out cold with a vicious right hand – the “perfect punch” – at the end of the sixth round, putting a sudden end to the fourth fight between the two boxers and finally giving the Mexican victory over his great rival.

Pacquiao had been down in the third round but knocked Marquez down in the fifth and the two were exchanging heavy blows in the sixth round before Marquez threw a right hand that dumped Pacquiao face down on the canvas at 2:59 of the sixth round. The referee waved the fight to an end as Marquez celebrated and the sold-out crowd at the MGM erupted. Pacquiao was down for about two minutes before the Filipino’s handlers managed to get him up.

After being helped into his corner, Pacquiao sat on a stool, blew his nose and stared vacantly ahead as his handlers cut his gloves off. It was a stunning end to a furious fight and it may have signalled the end of Pacquiao’s career.

“I threw a perfect punch,” Marquez said. “I knew Manny could knock me out at any time.”

Marquez had vowed to finally beat Pacquiao after losing two close fights and settling for a draw in the first fight. But, after Pacquiao knocked him down in the fifth round and was landing big left hands, it looked like it would be the Filipino congressman’s night.

When the two came out for the sixth round, the pace was just as relentless. Both were brawling and landing big punches when, suddenly, just before the bell, Marquez caught Pacquiao moving in, landing a right flush to the jaw of the Filipino, who crumpled to the canvas in a heap and lay motionless.

“I felt he was coming to knock me out the last three rounds and I knew he was going to be wide open,” Marquez said.

It was the second loss in a row for Pacquiao, who was on the wrong end of a contentious decision against Timothy Bradley in June and who had vowed to regain his prominence in the ring.

Pacquiao was aggressive from the opening bell but paid the price in the third round when he was caught by a Marquez right hand that put him down. Pacquiao got back up and seemingly took control of the fight, dropping Marquez in the fifth round and landing the bigger punches until he himself was dropped “I got hit by a punch I didn’t see,” Pacquiao admitted.

Pacquiao, who earned more than $20 million for the fight, was ahead 47-46 on all three scorecards after the fifth round.

There was no title at stake, but that didn’t stop 16,348 fans from filling the MGM Grand Arena and roaring in unison from the opening bell as the two fighters went after each other. Ringside punching stats underscored the ferocity of the bout, showing Pacquiao landing 94 out of 256 punches to 52 of 246 for Marquez. But it was the one big right hand from Marquez that counted more than anything, knocking Pacquiao out for the first time in a career that goes back 17 years.

“He was in charge,” Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach said. “He just got a little too careless and got hit with a punch he didn’t see.”

Promoter Bob Arum immediately said he could see a fifth fight between the two boxers, and a dazed Pacquiao seemed to agree. “Why not?” he said.

Aside from the widely discredited Bradley decision, this was the first real loss by Pacquiao since 2005 when he lost a unanimous decision to Erik Morales. It was only the third time he had been stopped, having suffered a knockout and a TKO early in his career.