Four-division world champion Juan Manuel Marquez avenged two earlier defeats with a stunning sixth-round knockout of Manny Pacquiao on Saturday in a bout that surprisingly turned into a slugfest.
Marquez, his face a bloody mess from a barrage of lefts by Pacquiao, came back from a fifth-round knockdown with a hard right of his own in the final second of the sixth that sent the Filipino pugilist face first to the canvas.
“I am very, very happy,” said Marquez, who fought with a broken nose for the last few rounds. “How do you think I feel? I am very happy. This is a result of all the hard work I did.”
There was no title on the line, but plenty of pride for Marquez as the future Hall of Famers squared off for the fourth time in eight years.
Marquez lost a controversial decision to eight-division world champion Pacquiao 13 months ago. He lost a tight split decision in 2008 and they fought to a draw in their first fight in 2004.
“I think this fight was one of my best victories, absolutely,” Marquez said.
Marquez, 39, said he almost retired after the loss to Pacquiao in November last year.
“I was going to retire, but now I am happy I didn’t,” Marquez said.
Marquez, who had been knocked down four times in their three previous fights, knocked Pacquiao down in the third round on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but the tables quickly turned and Marquez was knocked down in the fifth.
Pacquiao hit him with a thunderous left that sent Marquez reeling backwards across the ring. He touched one glove to the canvas, but managed to stay on his feet.
A bloodied Marquez barely survived to the bell as Pacquiao pressed the attack, sensing that victory was within his grasp.
While Pacquiao said he wants a fifth fight, Marquez said all he wants to do is enjoy the win and rest.
“I am not thinking about any fight. I just want to celebrate,” he said. “Right now in my future, I don’t know what is coming, but I am going to rest, and I am going to celebrate with my family and my friends in Mexico. I am just thinking of the celebration, rather than who I am going to fight next.”
Pacquaio is committed to fighting into next year, but not after that. He also has his political future to consider.
He won a congressional seat in the Philippines and presides over poverty-stricken Sarangani province where he comes from.
KESSLER V MAGEE
Denmark’s Mikel Kessler reclaimed the WBA super-middleweight world title by stopping Northern Ireland’s Brian Magee in the third round in front of a noisy home crowd in Herning on Saturday.
Kessler, who won the title for the third time, knocked Magee down in the second round with a right to the stomach and floored his opponent again with another body shot in the third.
The referee stopped the fight 24 seconds into the third round of Magee’s first title defense, leaving Kessler to aim for a showdown with Andre Ward of the US or Britain’s Carl Froch.
The 37-year-old Magee told Sky Sports: “The first shot he hit me to the body really stung me badly. I just couldn’t recover. It took all my might to get up from that shot. Mikkel is a great champion, and all through the fight and the buildup he’s treated me with respect ... I always knew he was a champion. I trained like a champion, I gave it my all, but a body shot like that is hard to recover from.”