It was just that quick.
After a decade of domination, years at the very top of the boxing pecking order and a career spent building a hall of fame resume, it all ground to a halt with one perfect, impossibly devastating punch thrown by the hands of a man who hadn’t knocked him down in three prior fights.
This is how it happens sometimes in the world of fist fighting. Even the most invincible of them can become afterthoughts in the span of one night.
Whether or not you or I saw it coming is irrelevant. Some would say Manny Pacquiao’s armor showed serious cracks in the last Marquez fight, when just a little more aggression would have given Marquez a decision that plenty of people thought he deserved in the first place after spending 12 rounds counter-punching Manny into frustration, even resignation. If you saw the way Pacquiao slumped to his corner at the end of that one, you’d be inclined to believe he knew he’d been licked on that night, even if the judges didnt concur.
Make no mistake here. The Pacquiao camp took the fourth Marquez fight because they likely believed that, as frustrating a style as Marquez employs, he posed no real danger to Manny so long as he stuck to the game plan.
Well, that was the idea, anyway.
For that any many other reasons, Manny Pacquiao’s lights went out for the first time in his 17 years as a prizefighter. With a second left in Round 6, while employing the same seek-and-destroy tactics that have paved served him so well for all that time, Pac Man went out face-first, and stayed that way for longer than anyone should be comfortable with. Yeah, it was shocking. Unfathomable even. Shit, go back and watch Marquez’ reaction. Dude was surprised as you and I, maybe more so. His look was, more than anything, one of those “shit, I’ve hit him with better punches than that before” kind of expressions.
Hey, Manny just got old. Just like Roy Jones did against Tarver. Just like so many of them do. Of course, getting old in almost any other sport doesn’t result in brain trauma and a trip to the hospital, but that’s the reality of the profession these guys chose.
So what now? Well, for starters, the Pacquiao/ Floyd Mayweather “fight of the century” went down for the count when Manny did, although this result might actually end up guaranteeing that we see that fight after all, even if will generate significantly less interest for the fan and just as less money for the men involved. If the main obstacle to putting that fight together was always about protecting the drawing power of both fighters, (with the promotional war bullshit running a close second) the loss suffered by Pac will have rendered the point moot. I wouldn’t be surpriused to find out that this was always the tentative agreement. Some sort of “let’s both wait til one of us loses some luster before we risk our ability to make 20 million a fight against opponents that pose little to no threat to us. Then ,we cash out” type deal.
Still, if I had little interest in watching Marquez/Pacquiao IV (at least before it happened), I have even less in seeing Mayweather make Manny look old, slow and maybe even glass-jawed. This fight needed to be made when it was going to be for the mythical “greatest boxer in the world” title, and that time has come and gone.
So Manny might fight Marquez again, or Mayweather, or go back to fighting would-be contenders for loads of money, but last night was the last stand for him, in the grander sense.
Helluva ride it was, but it’s all over now.