Pacquiao edges Marquez on tight decision

LAS VEGAS, (Reuters) – Manny Pacquiao was tested to  the full before retaining his WBO welterweight title with a  controversial majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez at the  MGM Grand Garden Arena yesterday.
The 32-year-old southpaw received as much punishment from  his older opponent as he dished out over the 12 rounds but his  superior foot and hand speed made the difference as he improved  his career record to 54-3-2 with 38 knockouts.
Back in the ring for a third time since claiming a seat in  his country’s national congress last year, Pacquiao won his 15th  consecutive fight after earning two of the verdicts from the  three judges.
Dave Moretti (115-113) and Glenn Trowbridge (116-112)  awarded the fight to the Filipino while Robert Hoyle made it a  114-114 draw.
“My fans are very happy because clearly they thought I won  the fight,” Pacquiao said in a ringside interview as boos echoed  around the arena from the disgruntled Mexican fans.
“We have to accept that my opponent is not easy. He is a  good fighter and it’s not easy, but I won the fight. He was  ready for my punches but I thought I blocked a lot of his  punches.”
Asked if he would consider a fourth bout with  three-division world champion Marquez who has consistently been  his toughest opponent, Pacquiao replied: “Any time, any time. I  am a fighter and my job is to fight in the ring.”
Marquez, who lifted his arms in triumph after the fight  ended, was bitterly disappointed with the outcome after firmly  believing he had been cheated of victory in his two previous  meetings with Pacquiao.
“It’s hard when you’re fighting your rival and the three  judges, too,” the 38-year-old Mexican said in his dressing room,  having stormed out of the ring after the decision was announced  and his chance of vindication denied.
“I got robbed. Honestly I don’t know what I need to do to  change the mind of the judges. We won with clearer punches. I am  frustrated right now, very frustrated.”
The two boxers, renowned for their aggressive approach in  the ring, fought to a draw in May 2004 before Marquez lost his  WBC super-featherweight title to Pacquiao in a controversial  one-point split decision in March 2008.
Watched by a sell-out crowd of 16,368 that included former  heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, Pacquiao initially focused on  his lightning left jab in the opening round while Marquez relied  on counter-punching.
The nimble-footed Filipino, moving faster than his opponent,  dictated the early pace but Marquez caught Pacquiao with a  couple of right-hand body blows in the second round.
An evenly matched third round ended after Paquiao struck  Marquez in the head with a crunching right hook and both boxers  traded a flurry of telling counter punches late in the fourth.
As chants of “Marquez, Marquez, Marquez” echoed around the  arena, the Mexican dominated the fifth round, catching Pacquiao  with a searing left uppercut to the head and later on with a  crunching right.
With the intensity building, the two fighters  counter-punched at every opportunity and Marquez had the better  of the seventh round, landing solid lefts and rights with  pinpoint accuracy and cutting Pacquiao on the lip.
The Filipino upped his work rate in the ninth round,  peppering Marquez with a series of combinations to the body and  head while varying his angle of attack with slick foot movement.
Pacquiao, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight  weight divisions, was cut above the right eye in the 10th but  immediately signalled to referee Tony Weeks that he had been  head-butted and went on to finish the round with a flurry of  solid punches.
The two fighters strived to claim a telling advantage in the  last two rounds, though Pacquiao landed a crunching left to the  Mexican’s head late on in the 12th.
The official statistics reflected how closely Marquez  challenged Pacquiao.
He connected with a higher percentage of punches thrown, 138  of 436 to the 176 of 578 for the Filipino, and landed 100 power  punches compared to his opponent’s 117.

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