MANILA, Philippines – The historic fourth encounter between great rivals Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao of the Philippines and Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico continues to receive honors from boxing media, with ESPN becoming the latest to proclaim the fight as the best of 2012.
In his 2012 Fight of the Year story for ESPN.com, Dan Rafael notes that when the fourth fight was announced, “many were disappointed.”
“Not because it probably wouldn’t be a good fight, but because of general fatigue over the match-up. Give us something fresh, many said,” Rafael wrote.
Pacquiao and Marquez have already fought three times, the most recent taking place in November 2011, which Pacquiao won via a controversial majority decision.
“The first three fights between the great rivals were excellent – rousing battles at the highest level of boxing that were competitive and compelling,” Rafael said. “Even though Pacquiao led 2-0-1, all three decisions were highly controversial and could have gone either way.”
“So when they did meet (for the fourth time), expectations were for another exciting fight even if it hadn’t been the fans’ top choice of a match for either man,” he added.
“That hardly matters now, however, because their fourth fight – rounds 37-42 of a historical series – turned out to be the best of the bunch.”
Rafael notes that the fight “offered a festive and raucous atmosphere, thrilling two-way action, multiple knockdowns, blood, and one of the most significant and violent knockouts in history.”
The bout saw Pacquiao get knocked out with one second left in the six round by a crushing right hand from Marquez.
“The shocking conclusion – the 2012 ESPN.com knockout of the year – was simply the end of what turned out to be the 2012 ESPN.com fight of the year,” Rafael wrote.
Before the sixth round knockout, Marquez already floored Pacquiao midway through the third round, the first time that the Filipino icon had touched the canvas throughout their saga.
Pacquiao was able to register a knockdown of his own in the fifth round, which Rafael called “the best round of the rivalry.” The Filipino landed a huge left hand in the second minute of the round that forced Marquez to take a knee.
“Pacquiao looked like he was closing in on a stoppage in the sixth round after continuing to land heavy, damaging shots,” Rafael said.
“But then Pacquiao got a little lazy on defense and Marquez stepped into a full-force right hand that knocked Pacquiao out cold to bring the epic fight to an abrupt and stunning conclusion,” he added.
Yahoo! Sports also hailed the fourth bout between Pacquiao and Marquez as their 2012 Fight of the Year.
Among the other contenders for ESPN’s Fight of the Year was the seven-round war between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado last October 13 in California.
“From the moment this junior welterweight fight was made, expectations were sky-high for a memorable battle. They more than lived up to the hype, one brutal punch at a time,” Rafael said. “For the entire fight, they blasted each other with hard shots like a game of rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots.”
“The fight was even on two scorecards going into the seventh round, but Rios finally got to Alvarado, hurting him with a right hand and pouring it on until his head snapped back, forcing referee Pat Russell to stop the fireworks-filled slugfest.”
Also a contender was the March 10 clash between Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez, which Salid won via a tenth round technical knockout.
“The outright brawl will go down as one of the msot exciting title fights in the storied Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry,” Rafael said.
The flyweight unification clash between Brian Viloria and Hernan “Tyson” Marquez in November was also a top contender for Fight of the Year honors.
“Often, it’s the little guys who deliver huge action and that was the case in this fight that lived up to the hype,” Rafael said.
Other Fight of the Year contenders included the April 14 bout between Mike Alvarado and Mauricio Herrera, and the welterweight title clash between Roberto Guerrero and Ander Berto last November 24.