Pacquiao’s lack of grit showed in the first two rounds where he was clearly outboxed by Marquez. It was only in the third round that the Pacman regained some confidence, after sending a left hook that floored his rival. The succeeding rounds were a see-saw battle. Marquez stuck to his counterpunching style combined with occasional attacks that baffled Pacquiao. The Filipino, on the other hand, exploited to his advantage those rare instances of close quarter exchanges.
In the eleventh round, Pacquiao dug deep into his arsenal and managed to outpoint Marquez. But, as far as this spectator is concerned, the Mexican won the twelfth round with more solid punches.
The camp of Pacquiao knew the outcome of the fight could go either way. And so when the verdict came, a split decision, they cheered in joyful disbelief. But honestly, while I was rooting for my compatriot, I judged the Mexican the winner by a small margin. He deserved the victory with his intelligent strategy of keeping Pacquiao at bay most of the time and piling up points with counterpunches. He simply outwitted the Philippines’ “Pambansang Kamao,” refusing to be drawn into a brawl which would have sent him to the canvas.
It was a fight that for the most past did not work in Pacquiao’s favor. He failed to decipher Marquez’s game plan. It was the stalker that got surprised by the prey. Something went wrong with how his tacticians anticipated the combinations the other side was capable of drawing up. As the ancient sage of war Sun Tzu counseled: Know your enemy, know yourself; a hundred battles, a hundred victories. Pacman knew himself but not his enemy – a recipe for defeat which he avoided with the judges’ help.
As expected, the split decision drew protestations from Marquez. It was the same feeling that Pacquiao had when their first fight was declared a draw. But if the draw disappointed Pacquiao, the outcome of the March 16 bout made Marquez feel he was robbed, hence he wanted another rematch. For the Mexican great, it’s still unfinished business.
I agree with Marquez. Last Sunday’s fight was inconclusive. Neither boxer succeeded in imposing his supremacy over the other.
But, as a Filipino, what made me anxious was the two fighters’ contrasting demeanor before the fight. Marquez looked grim and determined and never cracked a smile. Pacquiao on the other hand tried to look confident by grinning wide to the television audience. The smile might have assured his millions of fans. Yet it also portended his lack of aggression. He did not fight to win; he fought not to lose.
I hate warriors who smile. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno received in 1987 the Jose W. Diokno Award for winning in a national editorial writing contest sponsored by Ang Pahayagang Malaya and the family of the late senator.)