There was one second left in the sixth round of Saturday’s big fight in Vegas between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Márquez. Pacquiao, one of the best boxers in the world, had been picking apart his old nemesis Márquez with darty punches that the Mexican, an expert counterpuncher, couldn’t seem to counter. The Filipino fighter had connected on 94 punches to Márquez’s 52, had broken his opponent’s nose and dropped him in the previous round. Márquez was bleeding profusely and having trouble breathing. All three judges had Pacquiao winning 47–46 through five rounds. Then in the dying moments of round six, the two men started exchanging furious punches near the ropes. Márquez feinted left and threw one of the most vicious short rights in recent boxing history, hitting Pacquiao flush in the face and sending him to the canvas, right in front of Mitt and Ann Romney’s ringside seats (“I couldn’t believe it, he went down right in front of me!” Ann said later). It seemed oddly appropriate: Romney knows all about clear defeats emerging dramatically after close and tough battles. And Pacquiao is a politician — a Congressman with presidential ambitions in his native Philippines. (PHOTOS: The Rise of Manny Pacquiao)
There was exaltation from Márquez, all sprinkled with blood, from his cornermen and from the mostly pro-Márquez crowd at the MGM Grand. But the obvious end of the match was also chilling because Pacquiao, seemingly invincible once upon a time, was so slow to revive. His corner put a white wet towel over him and started massaging his head as his weeping wife Jinkee — whose name is tattooed on his arm — struggled into the ring and to his side. Eventually regaining consciousness, Pacquiao said, “I got hit by a punch I didn’t see.” His eyes were still glazed over. It felt like the end of Manny Pacquaio. This is the second fight he has lost this year. Despite his dominance over Márquez through most of the fight, he looked just slightly more timid than the Pacquiao of...
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