Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 2: 'Unfinished Business'

Photo of Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez 2 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in 2008 via ESPN.com.

Five pounds and four years later, it’s time for the second verse.

In preparation for this Saturday’s (Nov. 12, 2011) throwdown between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Márquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, which will serve as the third in a trilogy that has Pacquiao up 1-0-1, MMAMania is breaking down their first two battles.

Earlier today, we took a look at their first effort, a fantastic featherweight fight fiesta that resulted in an unsatisfactory draw.

Join us after the jump for a recap and review of "Unfinished Business," the second battle between the Filipino great and the Mexican warrior that took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 15, 2008.

It was a fight for the ages:

After losing a decision to Érik Morales, Filipino prodigy Manny Pacquiao has taken the super featherweight division by storm, crushing six consecutive Mexican foes. Among those wins are knockouts of Morales and Jorge Solís.

One Mexican warrior remains.

After his draw with Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Márquez stumbled in a decision loss to Chris John, but has re-ignited his career with a move up in weight, taking out Marco Antonio Barrera and Rocky Juarez. The WBC Super Featherweight title is his.

But, there is no validation there that can compare to proving himself against his Filipino foe.

There is no hatred in their eyes as the referee explains his expectations for the bout, only respect. Validation hovers just out of reach as the bell rings for round 13.

Though it has been only four years, a very different Manny Pacquiao flits about the ring this night. His movement is less wild, his lunges more controlled and the murderous left straight that buckled Marquez no longer compromises the Filipino’s balance.

The first round, sedate by the standards these two set the first time around, sees limited damage inflicted. The best punch of the round is a right straight from the Mexican champion near the halfway mark, but Pacquiao’s ring generalship and aggression puts Márquez behind by one point at its end.

Still, better than getting dropped three times.

This time, Márquez decides to take control a little earlier. Though Manny’s newfound prowess with his right hand keeps Márquez on his heels in the early going, the supreme timing of the champion asserts itself soon enough. A long left hook finds regular success, and Pacquiao’s brief sojourns to the inside are met with hard rights to the face.

Near the five-second mark, an ill-advised Pacquiao flurry launches him directly into three vicious blows. The capper, a vicious left hook, seems to catch the Filipino slugger in the light switch. Though he stays on his feet, he slumps and stumbles, arms limp. A decisive round for Márquez ends with the two competitors even on the cards.

Pacquiao has no intention of letting Márquez establish control again, however. He continues pushing forward, his lethal left straight in full effect. While Márquez continues finding success when Pacquiao’s closing blows whiff, he is being pushed back by "Pac-Man’s" fury. With 30 seconds to go, though, Márquez lands a hard counter 1-2-3, leaving Pacquiao caught between him and the ropes.

Unfortunately for him, no sequel is complete without a nod to the original.

As the Mexican champ tries to press his advantage, a vicious left catches him flush on the jaw, sending him tumbling back. This is no flash knockdown. Despite getting to his feet quickly, Márquez is anything but steady on the feet. Though he manages to spark Pacquiao during his subsequent onslaught with a right hand, he eats a hard right in return seconds before the bell that, were the ropes not there to support him, would have sent him to the ground. The bell rings for quite a while, seemingly pleading with the fighters to halt their battle.

A clearly-dazed Márquez goes to the wrong corner. A faint sense of déjà vu pervades the arena as Nacho Beristain, his coach, assures Márquez that he is fine.

Pacquiao comes out for the fourth like a man on fire, dead-set on not letting this turn into another back-and-forth frenzy. Márquez, however, has regained his wits, and his counters are once again on point. Though Pacquiao catches him hard with a one-two with a little more than a minute left, he fires back and forces Pacquiao into the ropes. A hard left straight is met with an equally-emphatic left hook from "Dinamita". Despite going down hard three minutes earlier, the great Mexican warrior has refused to let Manny run away with the fight, and a close round ends with neither man holding a clear advantage.

The middle rounds arrive, Márquez’s domain. The two begin trading tentatively, but as the fifth progresses, the right hand of Márquez begins finding a home on his foe’s jaw. Pacquiao seems unable to impose his will as he had earlier, and while it is by no means one-sided, Márquez is clawing his way back into the fight.

A late-round flurry from both fighters reflects this new development. Despite his speed advantage, Pacquiao finds himself on the wrong end of more punches than he manages to land. Their output is relatively minimal, with less than 80 combined punches, which is becoming the Mexican’s type of fight, one that Pacquiao cannot afford to let himself be drawn into.

The right of Márquez continues scoring in the sixth, both behind his jab and as a standalone blow. Pacquiao is cut above his left eye, and Márquez is giving him no relief. A hard uppercut-right straight at the halfway mark delivered by Márquez is the best blow of the round, and after getting thumped by it, Pacquiao seems tentative, and clearly loses the round and his momentum.

At most, a point separates the two as the seventh begins. A hard left lands for Pacquiao, but Márquez pays it no mind. The jab of Márquez begins working for him, but an unlucky clash of heads at the halfway mark opens a cut beside his right eye. A right from Pacquiao ignites a brief, murderous exchange that sees the two apparently break even. Another close round comes to an end with both fighters bleeding above their eyes and scoring effectively with their power hands, but Pacquiao seems to have regained momentum.

Said momentum evaporates quickly as Márquez jacks his foe with a straight right, sending Manny’s cut into overdrive. Though grinning broadly, Manny is badly bothered, and goes on the defensive as Márquez pushes him back, ripping hard to the body. Pacquiao’s constant charges leave him pinned against the ropes, and despite raising his hands in defiance, he is unable to stop the wicked straights of "Dinamita." A mean uppercut lands with 20 seconds left, capping off a fantastic round for the champ.

The CompuBox numbers are astounding -- Márquez outlanded Pacquiao four to one. Manny faced similar adversity in the middle rounds of the first bout, but he does not have the massive cushion of three knockdowns this time, and the scores are too close for comfort.

But Pacquiao, young though he may be, is a champion. Realizing he cannot win moving backward, he again imposes his speed and power upon Márquez, hitting him with a hard right a minute in. Márquez reopens Pacquiao’s cut halfway in, but the straight left of Pacquiao slams home once again. The two exchange furiously as the round continues, neither man getting an advantage, until a second cut opens above Márquez’s right eye, one in a far more dangerous position. Márquez forces Pacquiao back, but eats a hard counter left, leading the two to unleash a storm of blows against the ropes.

Damage scores. For all his hard work, Márquez may need something dramatic to overcome this new liability.

There are still three rounds to go, though, and that just may be enough time.

As Harold Lederman cheerfully announces his scorecard, one that has Pacquiao up by two points, Márquez moves in with his right hand too low and collides with a stinging overhand left. The crowd erupts and Harold quiets as Márquez stumbles into the ropes. The two again flurry viciously, Pacquiao’s momentum carrying him into and off of the ropes like a pinball. Márquez’s heart is too great for Pacquiao to press his advantage, though, and despite catching another hard counter, he refuses to let his legs falter. His eye bleeds anew, however, and even though he manages to slow the pace of the fight, the blood flow is doing him no favors with the judges. The pair exchange with some trepidation, Pacquiao’s mouthpiece falling out near the endpoint, but the damage inflicted by the opening left hand leaves no question as to who won the round.

Márquez’s cut is enormous at this point, easily the width of Beristain’s finger. He has two rounds to prove that it is but a flesh wound.

The penultimate round begins slowly, a Márquez low blow the sole highlight of the first minute. Both fighters, realizing the tenuousness of their situations, begin to exchange emphatically, Márquez landing lead right hands but apparently unable to keep Pacquiao off of him. The round is nearly dead even, but Pacquiao jacks him hard with a 2-1 at the bell.

And the judges remember nothing more clearly than the last 10 seconds.

Though his face is placid, Márquez’s cut is still hard to ignore. He has to take the judges’ attention away from it. A solid uppercut followed by a 1-2 seems to do the trick as "Dinamita" pushes Pacquiao back. Márquez is avoiding the monstrous left straight effectively, landing hard uppercuts and straights. Manny’s less-dramatic blows are landing, but Márquez refuses to take a step back. The round and the fight end with a beautiful microcosm of their effort thus far. Their hands are a blur, Márquez smashing his right hand into Pacquiao’s jaw and Pacquiao’s two fists flitting in and out like angry hornets.

There is no way to know what the scores will be. Only a handful of the rounds were clear-cut, but all were fantastic.

Luckily, there is to be a winner tonight. With scores of 115-112, 112-115, and 114-113, Pacquiao becomes the WBC and The Ring super featherweight champion.

Debate rages, and with good reason. Despite the judges declaring a victor, the fight was simply too close for either side to be satisfied.

And that’s the reason, three years later, they’re going at it one last time.

Join us tomorrow for full coverage of "Pacquiao vs. Márquez 3." See you then, Maniacs!

Be sure to check out our retrospective of Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez 1 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in 2004 right here.

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