Tuesday, November 15, 2011

3 Cool-headed Analyses of Pacquiao-Marquez


Time to rally behind Manny

SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star Updated November 15, 2011

LOS ANGELES – It was clearly one of Manny Pacquiao’s toughest fights as nobody expected Juan Manuel Marquez to take him to the limit in their WBO welterweight title bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last Saturday night (Sunday morning, Manila).

The odds were so absurdly lopsided that only the most daring risk-takers wagered on a win by Marquez. On the day of the fight, the betting line showed Pacquiao a -950 favorite and Marquez a +650 underdog, meaning a $950 wager for the Filipino would earn only $100 but a $100 bet on the Mexican would bring in $650.

As it turned out, Pacquiao won by a majority 12-round decision – the closest he got to gaining a sweep of the three judges’ nods in three outings. The judges – Dave Moretti, Glenn Trowbridge and Robert Hoyle – agreed to score rounds 1, 3 and 6 for Pacquiao and rounds 4, 5 and 7 for Marquez. The score was even at 76-all in two cards after eight rounds. Then, Pacquiao took the last four rounds in two of the three cards to seal it down the stretch.

The punchstats showed Pacquiao outlanding, outthrowing, outjabbing and outpower-hitting Marquez – something he didn’t do in the first two meetings. But while Pacquiao had the edge in the firepower departments, it wasn’t a big margin. The fight was close as indicated by the judges’ scores – 114-114 by Hoyle, 115-113 by Moretti and 116-112 by Trowbridge.

Despite the punchstat discrepancies, Pacquiao showed a drop in his work-rate as he averaged only 49 punches thrown a round. In the first bout against Marquez, he averaged 53 and in the second, it was down to 51. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach was recently quoted by Gordon Marino of the Wall Street Journal as saying the Filipino ring icon averages 80 punches a round. The slide reflected a slowdown that some fans interpreted to be a sign of the beginning of the end.

Pacquiao himself was disappointed that he failed to finish off Marquez and write a definitive closure to their trilogy. In his dressing room after the fight, the mood was subdued even as Pacquiao tried to lift everyone’s spirits by singing Queen’s anthem “We Will Rock You.”

* * * *

Pacquiao did enough to beat Marquez as the punchstats indicated and there’s no reason to doubt the integrity of the three judges who are veterans in the business. To speculate that gamblers influenced the voting is both unkind and unfair to Pacquiao.

“It’s God’s will,” said Pacquiao. “I won and I fought to bring more honor to our country. I was the aggressor throughout the fight and Marquez just waited to counter. I know fans have high expectations from me to score a knockout or a decision by a wide margin. I was cut by a headbutt (in the ninth round) but I fought until the end.”

Obviously, Pacquiao has spoiled his millions of fans who expect nothing less than a devastating and spectacular performance from him every time he steps into the ring. That’s the price for being the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter and a cover boy of Time and Newsweek. It doesn’t entitle him to an off-night. But let’s face it. Pacquiao is human like you and me, with faults, weaknesses and frailties.

Against Marquez last Saturday night, Pacquiao wasn’t at his best. He was slow on the attack and too careful in staying out of harm’s way. He didn’t show the bravado that has been his trademark since breaking into the lucrative US market in 2001. He wasn’t the unpredictable dervish who fought with reckless abandon. It seemed like there was a heavy weight on his shoulders or a problem that compromised his focus. Still, Pacquiao earned the decision despite the sub-par performance and for that, he should be credited. Pacquiao fought a determined gladiator, took his licks and finished proudly. He certainly deserves recognition for beating a tough opponent on an off-night.

* * * *

For fans to question the decision must pain Pacquiao. When he’s winning in grand style, everyone’s jumping into his bandwagon. His victory is for all to enjoy and celebrate. But now that he’s been severely challenged, the fans who once praised him to high heavens won’t even give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s the crab mentality all over again. Instead of understanding his situation, they wonder if he’s on the decline, if the judges were paid off. Instead of encouraging Pacquiao to learn from this lesson of near-defeat, they castigate him for an escape act, probe into his private affairs and try to dig up dirt to besmirch his reputation.

It must be pointed out that because of their styles, there will never be a conclusive ending to a Pacquiao-Marquez fight. It’s like they’re meant for each other. If a fourth fight materializes, the debate on who’s the better fighter will still be unsettled when the smoke clears. That’s the way it is. And as Pacquiao said, that’s boxing. But it must be mentioned that in Saturday’s fight as in every fight, judges will always score close rounds in favor of the more aggressive fighter. So in cases where a round could’ve gone either way, Pacquiao got the benefit of the doubt because he was definitely more aggressive than Marquez. Sadly, it’s the same benefit of the doubt that some of his fans won’t care to give him now.

Read the rest here: http://www.philstar.com/thedeanscorner/columnscontent.aspx?articleid=748290&publicationsubcategoryid=69



Pacquiao-Marquez 3: Judge it with your head, not with your heart


I'm not out to change your opinion. If you scored each round and saw that Juan Manuel Marquez was the winner, I respect that. However, if you just "felt" that Marquez won, if you forgot to score the fight round per round, we need to talk.

When judges score fights, context shouldn't matter. The best judges never favor champion over challenger or challenger over champion. They look beyond a fighter's record and history. No past. No future. Just the fight at hand. It's tough.

Different judges have different tastes. Some prefer aggressors; the ones who push the action and chase opponents all over the ring. Other judges focus on cleaner shots. Judges should also disregard continuity. What happens in round 5 shouldn't affect how judges score round 6. In reality, however, scoring a boxing match is not a perfect science. You already know that.

Just seconds after Manny Pacquiao defeated Juan Manuel Marquez, my Twitter timeline scorched with "Marquez was robbed" and "there is no way Pacquiao won that fight" type of posts. Though I expected some to score it for Marquez, the public outcry and robbery accusations caught me off guard. Actors, politicians, basketball players, singers, random guys, upset folk all tweeted and retweeted opinions. Messages were mostly against the decision. One quick-witted observer even remarked, "Like many legislative districts in the country, Marquez was robbed by a Filipino congressman."

The problem: a lot of fans who watched the fight were too emotional.

Many believed Marquez was a huge underdog. Hence, every time he connected with anything relevant, it seemed like he was achieving something important.

Many also expected Pacquiao to win by knockout. Thus, when Manny failed to floor Marquez, fans blamed Pacquiao for failing to deliver a KO.

Since Marquez had solid moments during the fight, since Pacquiao couldn't knock Marquez out, some fight fans believed Marquez should've been declared the winner.

I’ll use the first 6 rounds to drive home my point.

The first three rounds were close but, due to his aggression, Pacquiao was rewarded with all three in two of the scorecards while the third judge gave him two of the first three.

Rounds 4 and 5 were clearly Marquez-dominated rounds. He connected with left hooks, lead rights, and uppercuts in those two rounds.

By the start of round 6, observers who did not score it round by round might have assumed that Pacquiao was already behind. Multiple slow-motion replays demonstrating how Marquez tagged Pacquiao with head-shots surely fueled that impression. In reality, Pacquiao was still ahead by a round in two of the cards and only down by one in the remaining scorecard.

Pacquiao clearly won round 6. Therefore, Pacquiao was either up two rounds or tied with Marquez halfway through the fight. Yes, Marquez was brilliant in the fourth and fifth rounds. But since Marquez didn't do as well in the other rounds, he stilled trailed Pacquiao by the start of round 7.

The challenge: if you're still fuming over the majority decision, watch the fight again, turn the volume off, and score the fight round per round. We'll still have varying scores. But I assure you, doing this exercise will give you a clearer picture. It might convince you that Pacquiao indeed won or it may support your belief that Marquez deserved the nod. But I’m sure that if you break it down per round. You will see that it was a very close fight. But a robbery, ladies and gentlemen, this was not.

Pacquiao has been so dominant in the past that we have all been spoiled. Nothing but the total destruction of his opponents will suffice. This fight, more than anything, proves that Pacquiao is human, that he can look bad in some instances, that styles make fights. It was clearly not his best performance and it was far from the result that most of us expected. Fighting a close fight does not automatically make Pacquiao a loser.

Read the rest here: http://www.gmanews.tv/pbr/article/238560/sports/pacquiao-marquez-3-judge-it-with-your-head-not-with-your-heart


Dear Juan Manuel Marquez


Dear Juan Manuel Marquez,

First, congratulations on an excellent performance against Manny Pacquiao on November 12. You demonstrated that more than any other fighter, you have figured out the Pacquiao puzzle. You deserve great credit for that. [Desplácese hacia abajo de la letra en español]

In your post fight interview you said you were robbed, and that you might retire. That’s understandable in the heat of the moment right after the fight, but after you’ve had a chance to reflect on it, I hope you will elect to continue. It is clear you have the skills and physical ability, and Bernard Hopkins has certainly taught us that 38 is not as old as we thought it was. Your performance against Manny reinforces that.

If you elect to continue fighting, and in particular if you elect to challenge Manny Pacquiao to a fourth fight, I would respectfully suggest that you need to be aware of some realities about judges scoring. Had you been more fully concious and accepting of them this time, you might have won the fight by pushing yourself harder in the later rounds when the fight still hung in the balance. True, by pushing yourself you would be exposing yourself to more risk — even to a possible knockout, but that is always the way of it when you are the challenger attempting to take the belt away from the champion.

The judges in Nevada are charged to look for a) clean, effective punching, b) effective aggression, c) ring generalship, and d) defense. A study of how US (and most other) judges score over the last 10 years shows that in a close fight, the judges almost always favor the fighter who presses the action and is perceived as the aggressor in the fight. Being the aggressor almost always generates a higher punch output, and even if the punches aren’t completely clean, the judges reward the attacking style which, even if it doesn’t result in clean punches, does expose the aggressor to greater risk than his opponent–something that the judges evidently feel should be rewarded. Your reliance on counterpunching, while it may produce cleaner landed shots, will always put you at a disadvantage with judges in a close fight if you rely heavily on the counterpunching style and do not act as the aggressor.

To state the equation very clearly: The very act of launching an attack against a composed, skillful opponent whose guard is up is a risky manuever which exposes the attacker. By taking that risk and launching that attack, the attacker gains favor in the eyes of the judges, and even if his punches don’t land as cleanly as your counterpunches, he gets credit for a) forcing the action and being the aggressor, b) taking the risk associated with attacking a skilled, waiting opponent.

In your first two fights with Manny Pacquiao, while you were oriented toward counterpunching, you also launched offensive attacks and in both of those fights you had a higher volume of punches that Pacquiao; a higher landed punch total; and a higher number of solid, compelling punches. But in those fights — he knocked you down four times. There is no doubt that if you had not been knocked down, you would have won both those fights because all of the other statistics were in your favor.

But this is not true of your most recent fight. In that fight Pacquiao had a higher volume of attacks; higher volume of punches; higher number of landed punches; higher number of landed powershots. Your counters were effective and in some cases dramatic — but by its very nature, your counterpunch oriented approach will impress the fans (and your trainer, evidently), but unless you create knockdowns it will not impress the judges — at least it won’ t impress them enough to offset the advantages that Pacquiao is gaining from his constantly being the aggressor; constantly exposing himself to risk by launching attacks against a waiting opponent; and in doing so generating an overall impression that he’s moving forward while you’re moving backwards; he’s getting off more punches (hence taking more risk); he’s landing more punches even if they’re not as clean (after all he’s punching a waiting opponent, not an exposed one).

Read the rest here:

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