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Pacquiao-Marquez 4: What will we remember?

by Jordan Capobianco: There’s nothing more likely to make a fight historic than when the people who are supposed to know don’t know, and the man who isn’t supposed to win does.

The night of fights was still in the undercards when a friend of mine texted me. He was at a party and wanted to be able to talk about boxing. He wanted to know who would win the Manny Pacquiao/Juan Manuel Marquez IV fight. Not any of the other fights, of course. It’s reflective of the state of boxing that no one at the party apparently cared about any of the other fights that night. Despite 50 Cent’s best efforts, casual boxing fans still don’t care about Gamboa, apparently.

I told my friend that the fight shouldn’t even be happening: That the hype machine had seen to it that Pacquiao won more of the previous three encounters than he should have by at least one, that Marquez was 40 years old, that Pacquiao had other things in his life besides boxing (religion, politics), and that the fight would clearly go to decision, which would clearly go to Pacquiao in the event of a tie. Or even in the event of it being close.

I was wrong.

But was right in one way — the hype machine was clearly on Pacquiao’s side. Between the second and third Marquez/Pacquiao fights, Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Shane Moseley. Names everyone recognizes. The casual boxing fans at the party my friend texted me from would hear those names and say “Yeah, I’ve heard of them.”

Take, by way of contrast, the list of fighters Juan Manuel Marquez fought between his second and third ring-meeting with Pacquiao: Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Juan Diaz again, Michael Katsidis, and Likar Ramos. The casual fans at the party my friend texted me from would hear those names and say “I heard of Mayweather.”

It was common knowledge, therefore, that despite the fact that the first fight was a “draw”, and that Pacquiao won at least one if not both of the next two fights without really winning them, that Pacquiao would win his fourth fight against Marquez. Not based on anything real. Purely based on the recognition of Pacquiao’s name and the names of the men he fought. Pure hype. Pacquiao was supposed to win.

When Pacquiao got knocked out in spectacular fashion, it immediately began. The hype didn’t match the reality, so there had to be a rematch. Or Marquez must have been using performance-enhancing drugs. Or Marquez just got lucky. It’s as if some saw the fight, saw that the man who was supposed to win didn’t, and decided that the two men must fight over and over until the man who was supposed to win, Pacquiao, actually does.

But with the expected ending comes a forgettable experience. The best fights are the ones in which the unexpected man wins. No one thought Muhammad Ali, who already lost to Ken Norton and Joe Frazier, could beat the then monstrous, undefeated, 40-0 George Foreman that night in Zaire. No one thought George Foreman could beat Micheal Moorer some time later, when Moorer was 19 years Foreman’s junior. No one thought Buster Douglas could beat Mike Tyson.

But they won’t ever forget those fights. They’ll always remember them.

They won’t always remember Saul “Canelo” Alvarez dominating the elderly Shane Moseley, though. They won’t always remember Bernard Hopkins getting stomped by the far younger, far faster, far stronger Chad Dawson. If Micheal Moorer had beaten George Foreman, you might not remember that fight, either.

Manny Pacquiao has been knocked out. It changes a lot in the world of boxing. It is truly historic. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to be a Marquez fan. But don’t spoil it with baseless accusations and demands for a rematch. This kind of monumental victory over all the hype and all the odds is a big part of what makes boxing great.

And you’ll probably always remember it.

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