Juan Manuel Marquez needed closure after three incredibly close fights. Manny Pacquiao needed a victory after a controversial loss against Timothy Bradley. In the end, it was Marquez who provided the fireworks in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
In boxing, or any combat sport, the one-punch knockout is the most exciting and dramatic way for the fight to end. It can happen at any time, when you least expect it. Everyone wants to see it, but no one can honestly predict when it will occur.
The first three times Pacquiao and Marquez fought, the judges had to decide their fate. Without a clear winner in any of those bouts, no matter what the decision was, it was never going to satisfy everyone.
Pacquiao came out on top in two of the first three fights—the first of which ended in a draw, which is as anti-climactic an ending as there is to a sporting event. Yet there were legitimate cases to be made that Marquez had won all three fights.
But on Saturday, Dec. 8, Marquez left no doubt about who the better man was. He put to rest any and all speculation about whether or not he could conquer the mountain that is Pacquiao.
For Marquez, winning was never going to be good enough. He needed to make an emphatic statement. There are victories and there are victories, and Saturday night was most definitely the latter. He not only enhanced his legacy, but changed Pacquiao's in the process.
It was quite fitting the way the knockout happened—almost a vindication of sorts.
Pacquiao has been known for his aggressive, relentless attacking style that overwhelms opponents to the point that they can't even keep up with the pace.
Marquez has frustrated Pacquiao, and many others, with his ability to counter-punch. He wants you to press him so he can step back, throw his fists and catch you when you are at your most vulnerable.
That's exactly what Marquez did on Saturday night. He destroyed Pacquiao's chin with one of the most devastating right hands that you will ever see. Pacquiao, who hadn't been knocked out since 1999, dropped like a house of cards.
It used to be thought that boxing needed Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather to "save" the sport. Marquez all but ended that superfight in dramatic, spectacular fashion.