From the moment that it was announced that Manny Pacquiao would tangle with Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time, a number of pundits in the boxing world (including some of my colleagues at Proboxing-fans.com) began groaning that the fight was a waste of time and money, a rehash of a rivalry that was old hat and could offer nothing new. Some of that complaining continued right up until fight night, and how wrong they were!
I never thought this way, and honestly could not understand why anyone would. Quadrilogies are uncommon in boxing, but quadrilogies where both participants are still world class competitors in the same league and have unfinished business are an extreme rarity. Take the Rafael Marquez vs. Israel Vazquez quadrilogy, where Vazquez was a spent force by the time of the fourth installment. On that historical note alone, Marquez vs. Pacquiao IV promised to deliver.
Also, "new" can be overrated. Even if Pacquiao vs. Marquez had turned out to be exactly like the previous three installments, it would have delivered drama and a high quality, action-packed bout. With the rivalry, the rarity of a solid four-parter, and the certainty the fight would deliver, I can honestly say the only boxer I would rather have seen fight Pacquiao would have been Floyd Mayweather.
I'm not sure what happened Saturday night. Maybe Dinamita finally perfected his timing of Pacquiao, or his focus was just so tight and determined that night that it all came together for him in a way it had never come together before. Maybe Pacquiao lost a little caution, went out looking to finally dispatch his biggest rival, and as a result got dispatched himself. Maybe it was a little bit of everything.
Of two things I am certain, and those are the lessons that should be learned from this fight. First, a clash between two competitive, world class fighters is never a waste of anyone's time, whether it be the first encounter, the fourth, or even the fifth. The other lesson is the reason why: even with two evenly matched, competitive fighters, the most unlikely thing in the world is for a bout to run to 40 or 48 rounds and still not have reached a clear conclusion.