Big knockout may set up Pacquiao-Marquez again

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“People were really dismayed,” town spokesman Marlon Esperanza said. “It was like they were hit by another typhoon.”

What Marquez hit Pacquiao with might have seemed almost as powerful. Pacquiao had dropped Marquez four times in their first three fights, but Marquez had never put him down before he landed a big right hand in the third round for his first knockdown. The power was sure to raise questions about the new bulked-up physique Marquez has at the age of 39, which he said came from hard work under a strength conditioner who once provided steroids to Marion Jones and other track stars.

Still, it was a career-defining moment for Marquez, who believes he was robbed by the judges in his first three fights with Pacquiao. The two fought to a draw eight years ago at 125 pounds and Pacquiao was awarded close decisions in the other two fights.

It was clear there would be no need for the judges on this night, which might have been good for Marquez since he was losing by one point on all three scorecards when he landed his big punch.

The only question was which fighter would end the night on the canvas.

It turned out to be Pacquiao, who lost a controversial decision in his last fight to Timothy Bradley and who many in boxing believe is showing the wear of 17 years in the ring. For any other fighter the knockout loss might be the end, but Pacquiao showed no sign afterward that he was willing to call it quits on his remarkable career and return to his other job as a congressman in the Philippines.

Trainer Freddie Roach said the decision won’t be an easy one.

“I said if he is back in the gym and I see signs of him declining I’ll tell him to retire, but if I don’t see that I won’t tell him to retire,” Roach said. “I’d love to get a rematch, but is that the best move right away? Should we try him out in a softer fight first? There is a lot of things we have to think about. It’s very complicated, and it’s not going to be overnight.”

One thing the stunning loss did do was scuttle, perhaps forever, what would have been the richest fight in boxing history. With Pacquiao now damaged goods, any fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be fought for a lot less money and generate a lot less interest than if it had happened with Pacquiao still on his winning streak and still in his prime.

Pacquiao’s career may not be over. If postfight comments from both fighters and promoter Bob Arum were any indication, he and Marquez will more than likely fight for a fifth time. There’s too much money to be had and the fighter in Pacquiao will surely want a chance at redemption.

That will be a hot topic of discussion in the months ahead. For now, though, one thing is for sure.

On this night, one huge right hand from Marquez changed everything.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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