Pacquiao vs. Marquez No. 5?

Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


Take the fifth.
That is the popular reaction from those who were involved in or witnessed Saturday's dramatic knockout in Las Vegas by Juan Manuel Marquez over Manny Pacquiao, who was dominating action when the lights went out with one second left in the sixth round.
Pacquiao was still recovering from effects of the mighty Marquez punch that ended their fourth brawl when he declared he would welcome No. 5. And he is not alone.
"If there's a demand for a fifth fight and the fighters want to do it again, what better fight can you make?" said Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank Boxing Promotions. "I don't think there was one person watching on television or live at Vegas who saw the fight ... that wasn't just blown away."
Going into the epic fourth matchup of the two warriors, Pacquiao led the series with two close decisions following their initial draw. When Pacquiao and undefeated Floyd "Money" Mayweather couldn't schedule the fight that the public allegedly wanted most, the fourth bout between Pacman and Marquez became the best consolation matchup.
Now it would be the best possible rematch, and as soon as possible while Marquez, 39, and Pacquiao, who turns 34 Dec. 17, are still able to continue this historic rivalry. After four fights and 41 rounds (plus 2 minutes, 59 seconds of a 42nd round), there is no clear picture of which fighter is best.
Saturday night, Pacquiao went down for the first time in their four fights when Marquez landed an overhand right in the third round. Pacquiao won the first two rounds, so that knockdown evened the fight after three. Marquez pulled ahead by winning a close fourth round on all cards.
But Marquez went down for a fifth time in the series when Pacquiao toppled him with a flurry of punches and broke the Mexican brawler's nose in the fifth round.
So Pacquiao was leading on all official cards, 47-46, heading into the sixth. The popular Filipino fighter was one second away from being up at least 57-55 when he got careless and ran into a tremendous, desperate right counter punch. He was out even before he hit the canvas face first and seemed to remain unconscious for a couple of minutes.
After the fight, both boxers went to the hospital, Pacquiao for a CT scan that reportedly indicated he was OK, and Marquez for treatment on his broken nose, which was swollen to the size of half a grapefruit. Still, both fighters seem open to yet another rematch, and officials who can put it together are anxious to oblige.
Asked about the possibility of a fifth fight, Marquez (55-6-1) grinned and said, "I know in the future I will rest and celebrate. I'm thinking more about the celebration than who I'm fighting next."
Pacquiao (54-5-2) said that he too would rest, but he plans to fight again. When asked specifically about Marquez being his next opponent, Pacquiao said, "Why not?"
Why not indeed. Pacquiao earned at least $25 million for the bout, according to Top Rank president Todd duBoef. Marquez was guaranteed $6 million and probably will wind up making around $10 million when all the pay-per-view income is counted.
"Everyone's asking me about the fifth fight," DuBoef said. "Great fights, great fighters become synonymous with each other. And when you're entertained like that, how can you not make another? You can't script fights, but when you look at the body of work, it's the most engaging series of fights in the last 50 years."
And despite the apparent finality of the devastating knockout, or perhaps because of it, some fight followers are still waiting for further results, from post-fight drug tests. The questions began long before the fight and gained added life when Marquez weighed in Friday at 143 pounds, looking far more muscular than ever.
That further piqued the curiosity of those who questioned Marquez's decision to hire Angel "Memo" Heredia as his strength and conditioning coach. Heredia was a key witness during the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal. Heredia admitted providing athletes, including Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin, with steroids, EPO and human growth hormone.
Heredia, who goes by the name Angel Hernandez, insists he's clean now. He said Marquez's stunning physical transformation is the result of hard work and training methods he said are proprietary.
"They're my secrets, and I don't intend to tell so other trainers can copycat my secrets," Heredia said before the fight.
Marquez vehemently defended himself and Heredia.
"First of all, I would like to tell you that I have never done this type of work before," Marquez said of the training he's done with Heredia. "That's why my body has changed. I have been working very hard, specifically to get more strength. Angel is a professional and knows how much weight I am putting on. I am getting more speed and getting stronger at the same time.
"As far as people thinking I am taking steroids? I would take the test. Let them take my blood. I don't care. (I would do it) just to shut everybody up. Of course, my fight tests have always been clean. I don't know how those rumors get started."
Obviously, hiring Heredia in the first place would certainly spark such talk. And although the most devastating punch of his career may have ended the fight, it certainly did not end the rumors.
Regardless of any lab results, or, again, perhaps because of them, a fifth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez is a compelling consideration even if it may be unprecedented in major modern boxing history. After all, matchup No. IV had its detractors.
"Everybody accused me of trying to hype the fourth fight," Arum said afterward. "Everybody said, 'We don't want to see it anymore.' They were the geniuses that write for boxing, but I said it isn't going to be like the first three fights. They're going to throw caution to the wind, and that's exactly what happened."
And may happen again.