SATURDAY night was supposed to be Manny ‘Pac Man’ Pacquiao’s chance to fire a warning shot to Floyd Mayweather ahead of a possible big money showdown in 2012.
Instead he fled the ring to boos and jeers, his performance against Juan Manuel Marquez putting the super fight in jeapordy as he will come under pressure to accept a fourth meeting after another controversial judges decision.
It was the Phillipino’s third chance to finally shut up his old adversary Marquez after two highly-controverial bouts in 2004 and 2008. The first ended in a draw before the Pac Man was awarded a split decision victory after it was widely regarded that he had indeed lost the fight.
Marquez has always insisted that he won both the two previous contests, and once again the 38-year-old Mexican had his hands raised at the end of a pulsating bout, only for the judges to pull a surprise majority verdict in favour of Pacquiao.
Pacquiao used the extensive TV coverage in the build-up to Saturday’s fight to talk of his desire to finally shut Marquez up, while his coach Freddie Roach predicted a stoppage inside six rounds.
How wrong he was.
It is said that styles make fights and Pacquiao would be stupid to take on a fourth fight against a man who clearly has his number.
Fighting brilliantly on the back foot, Marquez countered any attack that Pacquiao launched with ferocious speed and accuracy.
It was clear that Pacquiao thought he’d lost the fight as he slumped back to his corner at the end of the 12th, while Marquez was hoisted into the air by members of his corner.
But minutes later beer cans were flying towards the ring while a chorus of boos circled the MGM Grand as Marquez immediately stormed out of the ring in disgust at the decision in favour of Pacquiao.
Even Pacquiao’s stable-mate Amir Khan, who was covering the fight for TV, said that he had Marquez up by two rounds.
Every single boxing fan in the world wants to see Pacquiao and Mayweather Jnr get it on, and this latest performance puts that fight in jeapordy.
Mayweather fights in a similar fashion to Marquez, but is in a totally different league to the Mexican.
The pair met in 2009 and Mayweather cruised to a unanimous points win - this coming after a two-year break from the sport after beating Ricky Hatton in 2007.
Pacquiao has been spreading himself too thin over the past couple of years.
Commitments include a weekly TV slot, a position on the Phillipino Congress, and he has also recently launched a new men’s fragrance - The Scent of a Champion.
That scent will quickly evaporate if he doesn’t focus all his efforts on his boxing career, and his next fight will define how the supposed pound-for-pound king’s career will be remembered.
Personally I think Mayweather v Pacquiao wouldn’t live up to all the hype. Mayweather would pick-off the Pac Man on the back foot and nullify his threat.
I’d prefer to see Mayweather take on Khan. Rumour has it Khan and Pacquiao spar regularly and Khan more than holds his own.
He would offer sharper skills on the front foot and also showed against big-punching Marcos Maidana that he has heart and a stronger chin than in his formative years.
Either way boxing fans are in for a treat in 2012.