LAS VEGAS — This time, there was no doubt. This time, Juan Manuel Marquez did not leave it up to the judges. This time, the Mexican ring warrior left Manny Pacquiao face-first on the canvas.
Covered in a mask of blood, the 39-year-old fighter blasted Pacquiao with a huge right hand with one second remaining in the sixth round to score a decisive knockout, the first time he defeated his Filipino adversary in four attempts.
Pacquiao charged into the Mexican counterpuncher’s danger zone and ran into a right hand, dropping the Filipino along the ropes. Pacquiao lay motionless for several seconds as the sellout crowd of 16,398 at the MGM Grand Arena erupted.
“That’s boxing,” said Pacquiao, who added he has no plans to retire. “I started to get confident, but I never expected that punch.”
Marquez said, “I knew after the last three rounds that he was going for the knockout and I could be knocked out at any time. I hit him with the perfect punch.”
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, said he felt his fighter was in charge. “He just got a little too careless, but he was hurting Marquez,” the trainer said. Pacquiao had knocked Marquez down in the fifth round and nearly had him stopped at that point.
Marquez, who never had won a fight above 140 pounds, was behind on all three judges’ cards when the fight dramatically ended. This time, there was no need for Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) to complain about the judges’ scoring. The former four-division world champion had bitterly disputed the results of their three previous encounters, particularly his points loss last November in Las Vegas.
Marquez did not suffer a broken nose, as was believed earlier, just bruised. Pacquiao, meanwhile, was taken to the trauma center to get checked out. The CT scan was negative.
Asked about a fifth fight between the two, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who handles Pacquiao, said, “Why not? We haven’t seen such an exciting fight in years. This fight will go down in history as a ring classic.”
Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs), who also went down in the third round, has lost two fights in a row for the first time in his career and was stopped for the first time in more than 13 years.
The former eight-division world champion had claimed world titles at 112, 122, 130, 135, 147 and 154 pounds. He had his seven-year winning streak snapped in June by Timothy Bradley Jr. when he lost a controversial split decision in Las Vegas.
He said he would be up for a fifth fight. “It’s up to my promoter. Let’s fight again,” Pacquiao said before heading to the hospital.
Pacquiao landed 94 total punches to Marquez’s 52, and outlanded Marquez in power punches 68-41. Pacquiao connected on 37% of his punches, while Marquez landed at a 21% clip. But in the end, he only needed one.
Prior to Saturday’s fight, parity held sway in the series which began in 2004 when they tussled at 125 pounds. Pacquiao had eked out a draw in 2004 and narrowly won disputed decisions in 2008 and 2011.
In a brawling preliminary bout, Cuban-born super-featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa of Miami won a unanimous decision against Michael Farenas of the Philippines. Gamboa, 30, a former Olympic gold medalist, remained unbeaten (22-0, 17 KOs). Farenas, a southpaw, dropped Gamboa late in the ninth round with a hard left, but was unable to finish him.
In the pro debut of 2012 U.S. Olympian Jose Ramirez, the lightweight from Avenal, Calif., stopped Corey Siegwarth of Denver with a first-round technical knockout.