The Pugilist

Pacquiao v Marquez: A trilogy of controversy

Between Manny Pacquiao's media day comments and Floyd Mayweather's plans to fight "two huge bouts" in 2013, there could not be a worse time for the 4,619th round of rumours suggesting the two may finally contest their long-demanded superfight.

Because this weekend, Pac-Man steps into the ring not with the 'Money' man, but with old rival Juan Manuel Marquez.

Fans desperate to finally see the all-elusive clash between the world's two top pound-for-pound fighters (though they have both done quite well to retain their spots this year, all things considered) may not appreciate as much the fourth instalment of a thus far inconclusive series, just when their hopes have been slightly raised yet again by Pacquiao's offer to meet Floyd's drug testing demands.

But lost in the repetitiveness of a pairing that could conceivably run all the way to Pacquiao v Marquez 16, if we do not get a decisive winner any time soon, is the fact that the two have a classic rivalry, with tight comparisons in most departments and gripping contests which split the opinions of everyone watching.

So, ahead of their fourth fight at the MGM Grand, The Pugilist will be taking a look back at the first three fights, their outcomes, and the fighters' thoughts on each battle.

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PACQUIAO-MARQUEZ I

Date: May 8, 2004

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas NV

Championship: Pacquiao's The Ring featherweight title, Marquez's WBA (Super) and IBF featherweight titles

Result: Draw

The fight: After a highly physical first encounter went the distance, the fate of Pacquiao and Marquez would fall into the hands of the three judges — something they would grow used to over the next seven years.

It almost ended at the drop of a hat when Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in the first round. But the Mexican beat every count and managed to settle into the contest, despite his nose bleeding a gusher.

Guy Jutras had it 115-110 for Marquez and John Stewart scored it 115-110 for Pacquiao. But with Burt Clements calling the fight dead level at 113-113, there would be no winner on the night to the disappointment of a rabid and thoroughly entertained 7,129 crowd at the MGM who wanted to see a winner declared to cap the evening off in the proper fashion.

Controversy would come later as Clements was revealed to have scored the three-knockdown opener as 10-7 Pacquiao while his two colleagues had it 10-6. Had he agreed with the other two, Pacquiao would have won.

The judge admitted after the fight that he was led to believe that a multiple-knockdown round could be scored no wider than by a 10-7 margin, regardless of how many times a fighter went down.

Pacquiao said: "I thought I won and I didn't think it was close. I thought I took his fight away from him. If they want a rematch, no problem."

Marquez said: "I think he won the first round and maybe one other round. I thought I won the fight. I don't need a rematch but if everybody wants it, let's go."

Kevin Iole (Yahoo! Sports) said of the fight: "Marquez, the Mexican veteran, was not only on his feet at the end of the 12th round but believing he'd won. Each judge saw the fight differently, however, and it wound up a draw."

PACQUIAO-MARQUEZ II

Date: March 15, 2008

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas NV

Championship: Marquez's WBC super featherweight title, vacant The Ring super featherweight title

Result: Pacquiao d. Marquez via split decision

The fight: Almost four years on, it was difficult to imagine that Pacquiao and Marquez could engage in a war more thrilling or bloody than their first.

Once again they pulled it off, once again both fighters thought they should have won, and once again knockdowns — or in this case, one — proved critical.

Pacquiao's third-round flooring of Marquez may well have been the decisive moment to earn him the very narrow victory in a fight which Marquez led in the 'landed' department and cut 'Pac-Man' cleanly twice.

Judge Duane Ford favoured Pacquiao 115-112 and Jerry Roth called it 115-112 for Marquez, while Tom Miller gave a 114-113 edge to the Filipino.

Pacquiao said: "When he cut my eye in the fourth round, he made it more difficult for me and I couldn't take control of the fight."

Marquez said: "I won the fight. It was the wrong decision. One knockdown is not an entire fight. I still feel like I'm the champion."

Dan Rafael (ESPN) said of the fight: "After the tremendous action fight they waged in their disputed 2004 draw, nobody should be at all surprised that when Pacquiao and Marquez finally met in a rematch, they produced another enthralling, bloody and dramatic fight for the ages. We'll certainly be talking about it at the end of the year when it comes time to pick the fight of the year."

PACQUIAO-MARQUEZ III

Date: November 12, 2011

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas NV

Championship: Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title

Result: Pacquiao d. Marquez via majority decision

The fight: Adhering to the 'rule of three' nicely, their third battle last year at a 144lb catchweight had the atmosphere, excitement, physicality and controversy of the two before it.

Returning down the strip to the MGM for the second return bout, the fight for all its engrossing action was the marquee example of what many call Pacquiao's slump period of a successful career, with performances lacking the conviction or devastation of, say his two-round burial of Ricky Hatton.

Pacquiao needed the final round to have a chance of taking another decision against Marquez, whose Mexican fans filled the venue in support of their man and bombarded the ring with debris when the judges' scores were declared.

Glen Trowbridge scored it 116-112 for Pacquiao, Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 for Pacquiao and Robert Hoyle scored it 114-114, to the surprise of many.

Bob Arum, Pacquiao's long-time promoter, tried his best to explain the inexplicable, pointing to CompuBox statistics which showed his man ahead in punches thrown — 578 to 436 — and punches landed, 176 to 138.

But in a three-fight series in which it was fair to say Marquez deserved at least one victory, the majority of spectators watching live or via pay-per-view were adamant that his moment was on this night taken away from him.

Pacquiao said: "We have to accept the disappointment of the Mexican fans but that is part of the game. It was close but it was clear to me that I won the fight."

Marquez said: "I was robbed. They robbed me. I don't know what I need to do to convince the judges. I am very frustrated."

Kevin Mitchell (The Guardian) said of the fight: "Only a charlatan, a politician or a boxing promoter could tell the world that congressman Manny Pacquiao deserved to get enough votes for a majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez. The fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night was billed as a trilogy for the ages but it ended in a scandal as controversial as a backwoods election."

Tale of the Tape

Regardless of who emerges victorious this time around, we can only hope that the result, for once, is a decisive one. Both fighters would gain closure from a less hazy conclusion, and on top of that there would either be vindication for Marquez or the Mayweather superfight for Pacquiao. Hopefully.

But what do YOU think will happen in Pacquiao and Marquez's fourth encounter? Can the Mexican finally get an official victory in the rivalry? Will the Filipino be able to pull off the decisive win he needs to convince the world he is still the best around?

Let us know in the comments section below or tweet your thoughts to @liamhappe or @eurosportboxing

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RESULTS:

A weekend where Brit boxing fans were distracted from heavyweight prospects David Price and Tyson Fury racking up their latest victories  by the sight of former Ashes cricketer Andrew Flintoff windmilling his way to a surreal (but undeniably entertaining) winning ring debut.

And in a rare midweek world title fight, Koki Kameda retained the WBA bantamweight title with a split decision win over Mexico's Hugo Ruiz in Osaka on Tuesday in a bout every bit as close and contentious as the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND:

Three world title bouts support Marquez-Pacquiao IV, with Miguel Vazquez putting the IBF lightweight title on the line against Mercito Gesta while Yuriorkis Gamboa andMichael Farenas do battle for the vacant WBA interim junior lightweight belt and Javier Fortuna meets Patrick Hyland for the unattached featherweight equivalent.

Kingston, Jamaica also sees world championship action as Daulis Prescott and Nicholas Walters main event the Caribbean card to determine a new WBA 'regular' featherweight title-holder.

In another big winter night for British boxing, Northern Ireland's Brian Magee defends his WBA super-middleweight title against Mikkel Kessler in the challenger's native Denmark — though Magee is already 2-0 against Danes in the country.

James DeGale headlines a card from Hull as he continues his Hennessy-powered bid to bounce back from last year's George Groves defeat and subsequent plummet from the proverbial penthouse, while in London the 'Christmas Cracker' card promoted by Matchroom has already lost two of its three main events, with Lee Purdy v Carson Jones and Gavin Rees v John Murray both scrapped due to medical issues for Purdy and Murray.

Darren Barker makes his return after a 14-month absence, following his world title defeat against Sergio Martinez, to battle fleeting  former European middleweight champion Kerry Hope.

As always, you can get all the results and details after the fact on the Eurosport-Yahoo! website.