Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pacquiao Fights 2 Battles; Wins Both By Majority Decision

I did not plan to write about the Pacquiao-Marquez fight but after talking to my barber, reading the post-fight comments and listening to some friends including Filipinos, I felt compelled to join the discussions. I also watched the bout twice.

Climbing into the ring, Pacquiao had one goal in mind – to win the bout. Like all boxers, he knew that, according to the rules, he must convince the Judges to declare him the winner. To be declared the winner he must do either one of the following:

1.             He must knockout Marquez;
2.             He must beat Marquez lopsidedly to leave no doubts; or
3.             He must score more points than Marquez.

Based on the results, he did not do any of the first two, but he did the third one. One Judge scored the fight 114-114, another one scored it 115-113 in Pacquiao’s favor and the third one gave Pacquiao the win, scoring it 116-112. For these official results, Pacquiao was declared the winner.

How did Pacquiao earn more points to get the Judges’ nod? Boxing is about throwing punches and landing them either soft or hard legally in any of the opponent’s face or body parts. Official statistics show that Pacquiao threw 578 punches while Marquez did throw 435.

The more important statistic, of course, is how many of the punches thrown landed. The official counter counted 176 landed punches for Pacquiao and 138 for Marquez.

Oh yeah, but how many were power punches? Well, the official counter also answered that question. Pacquiao attempted 274 and landed 117 power punches. Marquez had 254 attempts and landed 100.

How about jabs thrown and connected? Pacquiao’s jabs according to the official counter numbered 304 and connected 59 while Marquez’ was 182 but connected 38. The latter’s accuracy reflected in percentages (21% for Marquez and 19% for Pacquiao) is higher than the former in this particular case. Unfortunately, what is counted is the number of actual jabs in absolute figures and not the percentages. 1 out of 1 is 100% and 5 out of 10 is 50%. The latter obviously wins.

Even analyzing them on a per round basis, Compubox reported that Pacquiao averaged 49 punches (578/12) and landed 14 (176/12) per round while Marquez averaged 36 punches (435/12) and landed 11 (138/12).

No matter how you look at it, the official numbers dictated who the winner should be.  The Judges had no choice but to declare him as such – still the best in the world, MANNY PACQUIAO!

That made me proud!

But why is there an apparent controversy? Let me start with some Filipinos. Unfortunately, Pacquiao, had to fight another battle – the Battle of Expectations.

Filipinos expected Pacquiao to win. Some expected him to win by a knockout. Others expected him to win lopsidedly scoring a unanimous decision. And many put their money where their mouth is. There lies the issue.

Online betting was that Marquez would not get beyond 10 and ½ rounds.  Others were even willing to bet that Pacquiao would knock him out much earlier. If this happened, some Filipino gamblers would have won a lot of money.

Another bet is that Pacquiao would win by unanimous decision. This was a very tempting bet and many followed this route.

Las Vegas puts the odds at 10-1 for Pacquiao winning regardless of how.  This means your $10,000 wins only $1,000.  To win $10,000, you have to bet $100,000.

If I were a real gambler, or one of the 26 Filipino Congressmen traveling to Las Vegas to watch Pacquiao, what were my options to recover my expenses and still make money? The Las Vegas 10-1 odds for Pacquiao would require too much investment. This would leave me either the knockout route or the lopsided unanimous decision one.

Many Filipinos went through that process in some small ways. Many got disappointed and lost.

Fortunately, there are more Filipinos who are non-gamblers. The majority just wanted Pacquiao to win and like me they are just as proud. President PNoy praised him for his victory on behalf of the majority of the Filipino people. Senator Lapid sponsored a Senate resolution also praising and congratulating him. I still have to hear from the 26 Congressmen who went to watch him. A win is a win is a win!

Now, briefly, let us deal with Marquez and the Mexicans. Marquez is the challenger and must take away the belt from Pacquiao, the current champion. To win he had to be declared by the Judges as the official winner. He had the same options as Pacquiao: knock Pacquiao out; obtain a lopsided unanimous decision; or get at least a majority decision from the Judges.

He failed to do any. The best he could get was a draw from one Judge. Even if the two other Judges decided it as a draw, the incumbent champion would remain. As a challenger, he had the greater burden. He should have been more aggressive and more on the offensive.  He cannot dethrone a champion by receiving 14 punches for every 11 that he lands. Or since he is supposed to be a great counter-puncher, he cannot counter with 11 punches for every 14 inflicted upon him. For a possible knockout, his best chance was to throw more power punches but he also lost there. To obtain more points, his best chance was to land more jabs. Again the numbers tell a different story.

Marquez failed in fulfilling the great burden of a challenger. His team and his countrymen proceeded on false expectations. He decided to be defensive in the last round based on the false assessment of his coach. He introduced the trick of stomping of Pacquiao’s foot to disrupt the latter’s footwork. He did it at least 5 times and got away with it. In Basketball and in Soccer, the trick is a no-no. However, it did not change the outcome. But he fought hard and deserves another chance.

Financially, Pacquiao and Marquez were winners. A rematch would give Pacquiao about $25-30 million while Marquez should be able to command at least $10 million. For Marquez who is thinking of retiring at his age, that’s more than the golden parachute of some CEOs or several times more than the 401-Ks of many retiring managers.

Looking forward to Pacquiao-Marquez IV.  Mayweather will have to wait for a better climate.

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