Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
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Manny Pacquiao has made the media wait before.
Each time the boxing superstar fights, the massive media contingent covering his every move races to a nearby conference room to wait for Pacquiao to rehash the victory.
Pacquiao always takes his time before arriving, but eventually shows up. He is overly polite, perfectly dressed and typically without a scratch on his face. You would have a hard time realizing he just finished a fight.
It was a different story Saturday.
When Pacquiao finally arrived for his post-fight news conference late Saturday night at the MGM Grand, he looked the part of a fighter — a fighter who lost. Pacquiao’s delay was credited to needing stitches above his right eye after a hard-fought victory against Juan Manuel Marquez to defend his WBO welterweight title.
Talk with the 16,000-plus fans in the arena, however, and they will dispute the outcome. Pacquiao earned a majority decision, with judge Glenn Trowbridge scoring the fight 116-112 in favor of Pacquiao, Dave Moretti having it 115-113 for Pacquiao and Robert Hoyle calling it a draw at 114-all.
Although Pacquiao won for the 15th straight time, he didn’t appear to be victorious. When the bell sounded to end the fight in the 12th round, Pacquiao hung his head while walking back to his corner, and Marquez raised his hand expecting a victory.
A few minutes later, Marquez learned otherwise. Almost immediately, a pro-Marquez crowd voiced its displeasure with a chorus of boos.
“Not only was this fight not definitive, very few rounds were definitive,” said Bob Arum, the promoter of Top Rank, which put on the fight.
It must have felt like a recurring nightmare for Marquez. This was his third loss to Pacquiao, with the Mexican fighter arguably on the wrong end of unfortunate scoring each time.
In 2004, Marquez was floored three times in the first round by Pacquiao, then proceeded to arguably win 10 of the next 11 rounds to earn a draw. Four years later, Pacquiao also struggled against Marquez, but escaped with a close decision some felt should have gone to Marquez.
Marquez was so devastated by the outcome of the third fight he said he was thinking about retiring.
“I’m happy with my performance today,” Marquez said through a translator. “Honestly, I don’t know what I need to do to change the mind of the judges.”
The question everyone has after each Pacquiao fight the last three years is when will he fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in what could be a $100 million payday. Saturday, Mayweather was part of the discussion, but not the only option.
Several, including Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach and Arum, indicated that a fourth match with Marquez might be the most attractive option.
That’s the message Arum heard from fans walking from the arena to the press conference. Most were Marquez supporters who were understandably angry.
“I was scared to death. They brought me into this room past the whole crowd of people, most Mexican, who wanted to lynch me,” Arum said. “The only way I can get off the hook is by having the fight again.”
Marquez entered as an 8-to-1 betting underdog and wasn’t expected to go the distance. Having to add bulk to compete at the welterweight catch-weight of 144 pounds was supposed to take Marquez out of his element. And, at age 38, he was believed to be past his prime.
He quickly proved the skeptics wrong. Pacquiao has steamrolled virtually everyone he has faced the past three years, but simply doesn’t match up well against Marquez. Marquez did most of his damage with the counterpunch in landing a majority of the fight’s best blows.
But Marquez faded during the final two rounds, possibly on instructions from his corner to be conservative because his handlers assumed he was comfortably ahead.
“I’m not making any excuses because Marquez fought a great fight,” Roach said. “He really surprised me. He fought well. We pulled it out in the last two rounds. I thought the fight was there for him and he stayed in the counter-punching mode and didn’t move forward. If (a judge) is going to give a close round to someone, it will be the aggressor.”
While Marquez was patient late, Pacquiao was aggressive in throwing several combinations. For the fight, Pacquiao landed 38 more punches than Marquez, including 17 more power punches.
Marquez was guaranteed $5 million for the fight and will also receive a share of the pay-per-view, which could double his purse. Pacquiao received $25 million before pay-per-view. A fourth fight between the two would bring both fighters more money, but would it be more than accepting a spring fight with Mayweather?
“I would like to tell everyone, (beating Pacquiao) can happen. It was done. We won,” Marquez said. “Only three people didn’t see it. The judges didn’t see the same thing. …I was robbed.”