Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao during their welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Jon Saraceno, USA TODAY Sports
- Freddie Roach says the punch that KO'd Pacquiao was not lucky
- Marquez: "It's a victory for all of Mexico'
- Marquez says the victory "gives us justice"
LAS VEGAS - Juan Manuel Marquez, a mask of blood covering his swollen face, was in full desperation mode late in the sixth round Saturday night. At 39, things weren't looking rosy for the Mexican warrior, who appeared on the verge of coming up empty for a fourth time against Manny Pacquiao.
PHOTOS: Stunning End to Marquez-Pacquiao
Then, in a shocking instant, the man Marquez had wanted so badly to decisively defeat for eight years made a critical, fight-ending mistake - one that led to a haymaker for the ages before a stunned sellout crowd of 16,398 at the MGM Grand Garden - so he launched a booming right hand that decked his challenger with one second remaining in the round.
With Pacquiao ahead on all three judges' scorecards, the Filipino misfired along the ropes and his Mexican nemesis launched a booming right hand that decked his challenger with one second remaining in the round. Only a round earlier, it was Pacquiao who had dumped Marquez with a straight left hand.
With one resounding shot, down went the Filipino fight icon, face first on the canvas. Pacquiao lay motionless, out cold, for more than a minute and needed smelling salts to be revived as he sat up only a few feet away from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who sat ringside with his wife, Ann.
As referee Kenny Bayless attended to the fallen Filipino, Marquez sprinted around the ring with his right arm triumphantly raised.
"I never expected that punch,'' Pacquaio said in a post-fight television interview.
Pacquiao had been suckered, pure and simple.
It was the second time Marquez had dropped his archrival on this night after failing to knock him down in three previous encounters that left the Mexican irritated with the judges and their scorecards.
"This victory gives us justice,'' said Marquez, who had been irked by two narrow decision defeats suffered at the hands of Pacquiao, particularly the last time they fought in November 2011. "It's not only a victory for me but for all of Mexico.''
Marquez later called it the "perfect punch.'' And it was anything but the proverbial "lucky punch.''
Freddie Roach, the loser's trainer, had preached to his little lefthander throughout training camp to watch out for Marquez's right hand. When Pacquiao got a little flat-footed, and stayed inside the "pocket'' a little too closely, danger lurked if he threw a punch, particularly if he whiffed.
"That's his best punch against Manny Pacquiao,'' Roach said of the counter right hand. "He did suck him into a few times in the fight. It was a good setup. It was by design - it wasn't a lucky punch. I was a little surprised he could pull that off being how hurt he was.''
But it was Pacquiao, who also was dropped by an overhand right in the third round, who ended up at the hospital after the fight for observation. A CT SCAN was negative.
The 33-year-old former eight-division world champion did not show up at the post-fight news conference. But he was an anxious to see what he did wrong in the fight. Sometime after midnight, Pacquiao watched a DVD of the bout in his hotel suite with his family, including his mother Dionisia, after eating a late-night dinner of soup, beef, chicken and steamed rice.
Immediately after the defeat, Pacquiao, now in his 17th year of professional boxing, indicated in a ring interview that he had no plans to retire. But Roach wants to see Pacquiao in the gym again before he decides what to recommend regarding his fighter's future.
"We'll see,'' Roach said. "If he gets back into the gym and I see signs of him declining, I will tell him to retire.''
It was the first time Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) had been stopped in a bout in more than 13 years. And it was the first time he has lost consecutive fights. Timothy Bradley Jr. halted Pacquiao's seven-year winning streak last June when he took his welterweight title belt with a controversial split-decision victory in Las Vegas.
In the fifth round, Marquez and Pacquiao slugged it out with the Filipino getting the better of his challenger, including scoring a knockdown. Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) later insisted he was not in any trouble.
"I never thought he was going to beat me. I was coming on strong,'' said Marquez, who sported a welt under his left eye and a puffy face. "When he dropped me, he hit me good. Honestly, I was thinking in the later rounds I was going to push him hard.''
For Manny Pacquiao, it got late really early Saturday and, before he knew it, his night was over.