After two highly controversial but spectacular battles, pound-for-pound stalwarts Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Márquez stepped into the ring tonight to finally, once and for all, prove who the better fighter was.
After 12 highly contentious rounds that, unlike their first two efforts, saw no knockdowns, Pacquiao retained the WBO title by scores of 114-114, 115-113, and 116-112. A shift of two rounds would have given Márquez the victory. Our SB Nation sister site BadLeftHook scored it 115-113 for Márquez, while MMAMania had it 115-113 for Pacquiao.
That shows the diversity in opinion for this bout, which is now the epitome of controversial.
Both men landed hard shots and both men displayed excellent ring generalship. But in the last couple rounds, Márquez took his foot off the gas on the advice of trainer Ignacio Beristain. This attempt to cruise to the scorecards may have cost him the fight.
It was entertaining, but it wasn't anywhere near definitive enough for anyone's taste. This one's going to be argued for a long, long time. Pacquiao expressed willingness to fight for a fourth time, but in the morass that is modern boxing politics, there's no guarantee it will ever happen.
Such is boxing.In the co-main event, top-ranked Top Rank junior welterweight Timothy Bradley returned to the ring for the first time since getting his WBC belt stripped for refusing to fight Amir Khan. Cuban veteran Joel Casamayor stood in his way, and he stood firm as a wall.
Specifically, the Berlin Wall circa 1989.
A soft, overweight Casamayor generated no resistance whatsoever, eating a huge number of flush Bradley punches and feebly clinching in retaliation. While I'm going to have to take a look at the CompuBox numbers to be sure, I'm fairly certain his hug count was greater than his punch count.
After getting a point taken away for leading with his head and going down three times, his corner mercifully threw in the towel at 2:59 of the eighth round, sparing Casamayor further embarrassment and the viewers further frustration.
I can't even think of anything witty to say as a suffix. That fight stunk.
In a lighter and much better fight, Breidis Prescott, the man who defeated Amir Khan in 54 seconds and has never shut up about it, took on Colorado's Mike Alvarado in a junior welterweight slugfest that promised fireworks.
It's good to know that some fights have integrity.
Prescott controlled the early portion of the fight with a surprisingly effective jab, utilizing his five-inch reach advantage in a bout of strategy entirely antithetical to his brawler reputation. Whenever Alvarado moved inside, he was met with short uppercuts and soon found himself cut badly above the eye. Going into the final round, several observers had him needing a knockout to win.
Two nasty uppercuts, one from each hand, put Prescott down hard halfway through the tenth. While the Colombian banger was able to get to his feet, he continued eating uppercut after uppercut until the referee was forced to step in, granting Alvarado an improbable TKO victory with 61 seconds remaining.
America, fu*k yeah.
Kicking off the show were super featherweight prospects Juan Carlos Burgos and Luis Cruz, both highly-touted prospects. Burgos entered the bout with only one loss on his record, Cruz with none.
Zeroes aren't forever.
Despite demonstrating an effective jab, Cruz found himself unable to handle the power and body attack of his Mexican foe, who managed to cause quite a bit of swelling over Cruz's right eye with a constant stream of left hooks. While he wound up coasting in the final rounds, Burgos still took home a clear majority decision.
Half a good night of fights, one quarter frustration, and one quarter arguments for months to come. Pretty standard for boxing nowadays.
For complete results and play-by-play from tonight's event click here.