LAS VEGAS — The 28 stitches over his right eye weren’t enough to keep Manny Pacquiao from headlining his own post-fight concert, which went on as usual into the early morning hours on the Las Vegas Strip.
They certainly won’t keep him from his next fight, though that’s the only sure thing when it comes to Pacquiao’s immediate future.
He escaped with a win Saturday night against Juan Manuel Marquez, but that only tells part of the story. Seemingly invincible over the past three years, he looked anything but in scoring a majority decision over his Mexican nemesis in a win that enraged both Marquez and thousands of his supporters who packed the MGM Grand arena.
Somewhere, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had to be watching. Somewhere, Mayweather had to be wondering.
If Marquez could more than hold his own against Pacquiao by counter punching him every minute of the fight, what would stop Mayweather from doing the same? If Marquez did everything against Pacquiao except win, why not finally take dibs on next and finish the job?
In almost getting beat, though, Pacquiao may have done more to make a megafight with Mayweather than with any of his big wins in recent years.
Pacquiao has trouble with counter punchers, as his fight with Marquez clearly showed. And Mayweather is one of the best – if not the best – counter puncher in the sport.
“The style of Mayweather would get very complicated for Pacquiao,” said Marquez, who has fought both men.
The style of Marquez certainly was very complicated for Pacquiao, who needed to win a few late rounds to pull out a decision almost as close as the one he won from Marquez in their fight three years ago. Pacquiao won the fight by sheer aggression, though Marquez seemed to land the harder punches.
One judge scored the fight even, as did The Associated Press. Two others had Pacquiao winning, 115-113 and 116-112. When the decision was announced, an infuriated Marquez stormed from the ring in protest, and fans started throwing beer bottles toward the ring.
Neither man did much in the final round when they might have been expected to let it all loose, but if Marquez would have fought a little harder and won the 12th round on two scorecards he would have gotten a draw.