Manny Pacquiao's defeat at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez shocked some observers, but the clues were there.
Over the last decade, life has been pretty good for Manny Pacquiao, as the Filipino boxer slugged his way through weight class after weight class on his way to claiming the title of the "World's Best Pound-for-Pound Fighter" (apologies to Floyd Mayweather.) He's won 10 titles in eight different weight classes, racked up 54 wins, become a pop star in his native Philippines, won a seat in that country's congress, and established himself as a general global phenomenon.
But after being knocked out in the sixth round of his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday, in front of a raucous crowd that included everyone from Magic Johnson to 50 Cent to Mitt Romney (WTF?), the bloom may finally be off the rose. It was the fourth bout between the two rivals, and while Marquez had never come out victorious, the three previous fights were either disputed or ended in split decisions. And with Manny having (controversially) lost his previous fight to Timothy Bradley, this was a chance for Pacquiao to reestablish his dominance, and win the series against Marquez once and for all.
Of course, a jarring right hand to Manny's jaw put an end to all that, and leaves us wondering where the erstwhile champ will go next. But maybe we shouldn't be so surprised at the result. In his recent bouts — even those he won — Pacquiao seemed to have lost the will to go in for the kill, content to take his opponents to the limit, to win on points. We spoke to his trainer Freddie Roach ahead of the Marquez fight, and even Roach seemed concerned that his fighter had lost a bit of an edge.
"His dedication is great, but he has lost that killer instinct," Roach told Maxim. "I'm not sure if it's because of his newfound religion, but he doesn't want to hurt people. He's a very compassionate person and he's still satisfied with not hurting the other fighter, and just beating them enough to win."
"I want to see the old Manny back, because he just doesn't go for the knockout like he used to," said Roach. "But he gave me a little insight where he said, 'I'm not going to be satisfied unless I knock this guys out.'"
It almost came to pass. After being knocked down for the first time in almost a decade in the third round, Manny rallied and had a chance in the fifth, when a straight left stung Marquez, sending the Mexican fighter to the canvas and bloodying his nose. It looked like that old Manny was back. That is, until Marquez's thunderous knockout punch in the following round.
"I knew in the last three rounds Pacquiao was going for a knockout," said Marquez after the fight. "But I knew since I knocked him down first, I'd be able to knock him out."
After the defeat, Roach seemed unsure what was next for his fighter. "I'm not sure which way we're going to go right now," said the five-time Trainer of the Year. "It really depends upon how he feels and what he wants to do. We'll get back in the gym and if I see signs of decline, I'll tell him to retire. If I don't, I'll tell him to go on."
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Today's Girl: Jessica Lowndes