A Foolish Man’s Boxing Analysis
My Thoughts on Pacquiao – Marquez III, reposted from my Facebook Note.
I’ve heard rants and grumblings about the fight, and most guys I know are saying that Marquez should have won, or at least the two should have gotten another draw. Random people I encountered making small talk with me and some friends of mine usually go along those lines.
I just want to express my thoughts, and explain why I think Pacquiao deserved the win.
To the casual fan (and the Manny Pacquiao fan), the fight shouldn’t have Pacquiao’s way. Now this might seem counterintuitive, but that’s the impression I had after studying people’s reactions. After some psychoanalysis (not that I’m certified to do so) I came to the conclusion that people probably felt betrayed and cheated since the knockout win that was promised and expected never came. Filipinos mostly expected Pacquiao to steamroll Marquez. I’m partly guilty, as I thought that if Pacquiao knocked Marquez out in the first three rounds, then well and good. But if the knockout didn’t come early on, then another grueling 12-round slugfest would probably occur, which it did.
Filipino fans who expected the easy win to come were probably disappointed when round after round unfolded with Pacquiao seemingly absorbing punch after punch from Marquez. They turned their ire and disappointment on Pacquiao, hence the belief after the fight that Pacquiao should have lost or should have drawn with Marquez.
But boxing is not scored with this kind of subjective and emotional judging. I long ago learned to judge more or less objectively, though I’m far from perfect. I tend to get swayed by the crowd’s cheers and the commentator’s words. So I usually try to score videos of boxing bouts with the sound off, to objectively score what I see on the screen.
Though the environment during the Pacquiao Marquez III fight was far from silent (it was a rowdy and noisy school in Labangon, Cebu with a huge screen set up), I tried to be my best objective self, and I tried to judge the fight. That mean t I couldn’t properly enjoy the fight as a normal fan would, since rather than revel in each hard punch and combination, I was trying to see which fighter won that particular round, and riding my emotional high rooting for Pacquiao would definitely lead to a biased scorecard.
I told some friends right after the fight that I scored the bout 115 – 113 in favor of Pacquiao, explaining I was trying to be as objective as I could. This was somewhat validated when the judges gave scorecards of 114 -114, 115 -113 (same as mine) and 116 – 112. Most people disagreed with me, saying that I (along with the official judges) gave too much credit to Pacquiao. But I felt I was spot on with my scoring, and I feel that the Majority Decision for Pacquiao is the correct outcome.
Most people do not know that boxing is scored on a per round basis. If for example if fighter A hit fighter B with 1000 punches in the first 3 rounds without fighter A ever getting hit (assuming there is no knockout or stoppage) and fighter B hit fighter A with 1 punch per round from round 4 to 12 without fighter B taking any punches in that span, it would not matter that fighter A threw hundreds of punches more than fighter B. Fighter B would still win since he won 9 rounds to fighter A’s 3 rounds.
Judges would also score a round by the number of clean hits, the force of the punches, aggression of the fighters, and ring generalship. Since in the fight there were no knockdowns or point deductions, the scoring was somewhat straightforward.
I felt that in the number of clean hits, Pacquiao hit more. It would seem that Marquez hit Pacquiao with countless clean blows, but in slow motion, you’d see that most punches are glancing blows or are partially blocked. The judges are also familiar with Pacquiao’s style while most casual fans are not. Pacquiao does not have great balance. Then and now he still has balance issues, though this is somewhat compensated for by his speed and combination punching. But Marquez’s counterpunching is superb, and most of the hits you see where you think that that Pacquiao is getting hurt, he’s actually not. It’s just his body and head moving in an awkward motion due to his bad balance that most people think he’s receiving more punishment than he really is.
Official punch statistics showed that Pacquiao connected 30% total punches versus Marquez’s 32%. Pacquiao threw 578 punches, with only 176 connected. Marquez threw 436 punches, with only 138 connected. In terms of jabs thrown, Pacquiao landed 59 out of 304 and Marquez 38 out of 182. As for power punches, Pacquiao landed 117 out of 274 (43%) and Marquez 100 out of 254 (39%).Total rounds gave per round average of landed punches for Pacquiao 14 out of 49 and Marquez 11 out of 36. So Pacquiao threw more punches, landed more punches, landed more jabs and power punches than Marquez did, something that is not so apparent to most people watching the fight.
Pacquiao also has the skill of rolling with the punches. Rolling with the punch means that if a punch cannot be blocked and otherwise unavoidable, the moment it impacts your head, you move your head in the direction of the punch, so most of the momentum and force is nullified, as opposed to tightening and hardening your head and neck, wherein you would absorb the full brunt of the blow. So sometimes it would seem that Pacquiao is severely hurt because his neck is snapped back, but this is actually done on purpose. It also didn’t help that Pacquiao’s hair is long, and the unnecessary hair movement amplifies his head movement and would make it seem he’s being tossed like a rag doll when hit with a punch.
I also felt that Pacquiao was controlling the tempo and the direction of the fight. He was the aggressive puncher, trying to corner Marquez and generally choosing the spots where they would engage. This is helped by the counter-punching style of Marquez, wherein he would go to where Pacquiao would want him to go, with his right hand coiled like a spring, ready to snap to any vulnerable spot Pacquiao has to offer. So aggression and ring generalship goes Pacquiao’s way.
So to sum it up, I scored 115 – 113 for Pacquiao, and I defend the decisions of the judges, however lackluster Pacquiao’s performance may seem to be. I know how great a fighter Marquez is, I’ve followed his career after his first loss to Pacquiao, and he defeated great opponents with regularity. I also acknowledge that Pacquiao’s style is perfectly patterned for Marquez counter-punching style. It is a testament to both men that their fights are scored so close. I have a saying: The difference between Pacquiao and Marquez is thinner than a hair’s breadth. But in that hair’s breadth, Pacquiao was just a little bit better than Marquez.