By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – A fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. can wait. Now they’re talking of a fourth Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez bout.
They’re calling it, Trilogy Plus 1. Really?
“I’m bound and determined to find a definitive winner from these two,” said Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum. “If we can get both fighters to agree, we’ll put it on May 5.”
In a majority decision that drew lusty boos and jeers from the 16,368 fight fans at the MGM Grand, Pacquiao retained his WBO welterweight title Saturday night. He won on the scorecards of two judges and the third called it a draw.
Pacquiao said he won “clearly.” Marquez said he was “robbed.” Arum, the moneyman, said, “let’s do it again.”
Now, it seems, before Pacquiao can attend to the business of Mayweather, he has to dispense this irritating matter of failing to dispose off Marquez.
The Mexican has not only gotten Pacquiao’s goat with his claims that he won all three of their fights, he seems to have the goods to beat the Filipino pound-for-pound champion – or at least give him fits.
Saturday night, Pacquiao was reduced to a frustrated, inefficient boxer chasing a heady fighter who answered with accurate combinations once he waded in.
Gone were the fast hands and excellent footwork that mesmerized opponents and the watching public. He won in the later rounds against Marquez after reverting to the brawling, attacking pug he used to be.
Marquez didn’t do much either to initiate contact. His wait-and-see, conservative strategy may have been dictated by the mistaken notion by his corner that he was winning the fight.
Boxing experts said Marquez may not have lost the fight, but he didn’t win it either. As the challenger, he had the pressure to go after the champion.
A clause in the fight contract stipulated that Pacquiao could get a rematch, if he wants it. Marquez is not sure he’d fight Pacquiao again. Devastated with the loss, he said he may consider retirement.
“I’m frustrated right now,’’ Marquez admitted. “Very frustrated. Honestly, I don’t know what I have to do to change the mind of the judges. I think I won this fight more clearly than the other two.
“I don’t know what happened. What do I need to do? The best judge, for me, is the audience and they responded sensationally for me.’’
It was the 15th straight win for Pacquiao, who earned a minimum of $22 million while improving his record to 54-3-2. Marquez, who earned $5 million, fell to 52-6-1.
A fourth fight could net both fighters comparable money, and more with their share of the pay-per-view revenues. That would be a big incentive for a rematch.
Bill Dwyer of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it took a good 15 minutes after the fight ended before the crowd stopped booing and hissing.
“To many, the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world was outboxed by Marquez, at 38 his senior by six years. Marquez not only stayed with Pacquiao in a heated pace for all 12 rounds, but he seemed to get the best of whatever flurries the two managed in their nonstop jiggling and dancing and feinting.
“Seldom before in boxing has there been a scene where a highly popular champion gets booed loudly and raucously during his post-match interview. Nobody could hear a word of what he said, and nobody seemed to care. They had seen what they had seen,” he wrote.
But boxing fans have short memories. Although talk about the unsavory side of boxing may surface again, all are likely to be forgotten once another big fight comes along.
Pacquiao, who needed 28 stitches to close the cut on his eyebrow, said the result may not be what the fans had expected.
“We have to accept the disappointment of the Mexican fans but that is part of the game. It was close but it was clear to me that I won the fight,” he said.
Just another tease for another fight.