By Alex P. Vidal
Juan Manuel Marquez was always complaining that he could not win a decision in Las Vegas. He has to knock out his opponent to eke out a victory, he grumbled. He thought there was a grand conspiracy to rob him of victory and a racial undertone would always smear his disgust and pessimistic attitude.
Nobody gave credence to his self-serving braggadocio when Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) protested his 2008 and 2011 points defeats to Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) in super featherweight and welterweight world title fisticuffs.
The 40-year-old Mexican legend also smelled rat in his 2004 split draw with Pacquiao for WBA super featherweight and IBF featherweight titles. All three encounters that ended in 12 rounds were held in Las Vegas.
On several occasions, I personally interviewed Marquez and he had no qualms telling all and sundry that he was cheated in all the three Pacquiao duels “each time the fight was held in (Las) Vegas” even if Top Rank big boss Bob Arum was in the hearing distance.
For fight fans, Marquez was a sore loser who packs not only dynamites in both fists, but truckloads of excuses and alibis for his sourgraping spree.
Until he shocked the world on December 8, 2012 with a smashing 6th round KO win over Pacquiao also in Las Vegas. And the world started to hold him with high esteem and respect.
When he was edged by Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs), 115-113, 116-112, 113-115 (split verdict) for WBO welterweight bauble at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas last October 12, Marquez was back to his old habit: sourgraping.
“Once again we came prepared to give a good fight. I think the people saw a good performance and the judges did it again. We are happy with the performance. When you come to Vegas you need to get a knockout. The judges are more dangerous than the opponents. I want to thank all the Mexican people who came,” Marquez rued.
Marquez’s nightmare with judges actually did not start when he yielded two of the three controversial decisions to Pacquiao. In fact, Las Vegas judges have been fair to Marquez, who was awarded with a unanimous decision when he defended his WBO NABO featherweight crown against Alfred Kotey on Nov. 22, 1997. In his first trip to Las Vegas on December 3, 1994, he didn’t need the judges’ cooperation when he disposed of Israel Gonzalez in the 4th round of an 8-rounder tiff.
Nevada state as a whole was kind and fair to him as he was also given another unanimous verdict against Darryl Pinckney in a 10-round non-title scraper on Oct. 19, 1996.
Marquez’s frustration in Las Vegas began when he was outboxed and outshuttled by Freddie Norwood for WBA featherweight championship. After 12 rounds, all the three judges scored a unanimous decision in favor of Norwood: Artur Ellensohn, 112-117; Stanley Christodoulou, 111-115; Duane Ford 112-114.
After the Norwood debacle, Marquez rebounded with 13 straight victories (seven in Nevada) only to be slowed down by a 12-round split draw in a failed bid to grab Pacquiao’s WBA and IBF belts on May 8, 2004. Despite being downed three times, Marquez managed to give Pacquiao hell and escaped defeat. Scores: John Stewart, 110-115; Burt A. Clements, 113-113; Guy Jutras, 115-110.
The draw left a bad taste in Marquez’s mouth and his love-hate relationship with Nevada judges started to roll and escalate. In his frustration, he wanted to bring a loaded pistol in the ring to ensure that his rival will be brought out on a stretcher so the judges will have no more job to perform.
Incidentally, when he lost by unanimous decision to Chris John for WBA featherweight title in Kutai Kartanegara, Indonesia on March 4, 2006, Marquez did not blame the judges. He also shut up his mouth when Floyd Mayweather Jr. toyed with him and never gave him a chance to win a single round en route to a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision loss on September 19, 2009 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
There was no need to blame the judges as the score sheets spoke for themselves: Burt A. Clements, 107-120; Dave Moretti, 108-119; Bill Lerch, 109-118.