Juan Manuel Marquez knocks out Manny Pacquiao with vicious counterpunch in sixth round

LAS VEGAS – On a night when a star-studded crowd that included Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney, Dodgers owner Magic Johnson and hip hop star 50 Cent were seated at ringside at the sold-out MGM Grand Garden, Juan Manuel Marquez delivered the best performance of his career.

He knocked Manny Pacquiao out as the sixth round ended, putting the Filipino superstar out face first on the canvas. Pacquiao had missed a right and Marquez used his specialty, the counter right hand, to close the show.

He landed the right directly on the chin, putting Pacquiao out cold. Pacquiao's wife, Jinkee, shrieked out and attempted to get to the ring. Promoter Bob Arum put his arm around her shoulder to comfort her.

"I knew Manny could knock me out at any time," Marquez said. "I threw the perfect punch."

[Slideshow: Pacquiao-Marquez IV]

"We always work on that [counter right]. The change in rhythm was important. We knew he was going to come out aggressive, so we had a fight plan that was more technique and we were able to capitalize on it. We knew it would be a very difficult fight, but not an impossible fight. We had to use our technique and skill and we didn't allow Manny to connect as he had done."

Pacquiao's eyes were not focusing correctly for several minutes after the bout.

Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao trade blows. (AP)
Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao trade blows. (AP)

Marquez put Pacquiao down in the third round, also with a right hand, while Pacquiao put Marquez down in the fifth.

The knockout came at 2:59 of the sixth, a round that Pacquiao likely would have won had it finished. It was a good round with plenty of back-and-forth action, but Pacquiao was landing his left regularly.

"He caught me with my hand down," Pacquiao said. "That was an error and we corrected it. We worked strength, we worked speed and you can see the result."

"I got hit by a punch I didn't see."

Marquez, who bulked up for the fight, showed a great deal more firepower. He rocked Pacquiao several times with the right and seemed to be the stronger puncher.

Pacquiao had made an adjustment that allowed him to land his left with more regularity. He kept his lead foot outside of Marquez's, which opened things up.

Marquez, one of the best counter punchers in the sport, connected with his right but this time, it had more pop than it did in the first three outings between them.

[Related: Mitt Romney appears at Pacquiao-Marquez IV, meets Pacman]

The result was sweet vindication for Marquez, who complained about the scoring in each of their first three fights. All three judges had it 47-46 for Pacquiao when the knockout came.

About six minutes after the fight, Pacquiao walked toward Marquez in the center of the ring, smiled and touched gloves with him.

The men fought three spectacular matches over a seven-year span prior to Saturday, with each believing he'd swept the other. But neither could solve the riddle of the other until the fourth match.

Juan Manuel Marquez, from Mexico, left, knocks down Manny Pacquiao, from the Philippines, in the third round of their WBO world welterweight fight Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Juan Manuel Marquez, from Mexico, left, knocks down Manny Pacquiao, from the Philippines, in the third round of their WBO world welterweight fight Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

Both spoke prior to the fight of increasing their aggression, with Marquez going so far as to bulk up his body. He created a stir pre-fight with his sculpted body, which was bigger than he had ever been.

Both Marquez and his conditioning coach Angel Guillermo "Memo" Heredia insisted that it was the result of new training methods and hard work.

Pacquiao said he wanted to fight the way he had in 2004, when he knocked Marquez down three times in the first round of their first fight. He was an aggressive, even occasionally reckless, fighter then, and he vowed before Saturday's fight that he would return to those ways.

Pacquiao went into the bout with the reputation as the power puncher, but it was clear that he was outgunned this time around.

Pacquiao earned at least $25 million for the bout, Top Rank president Todd duBoef said. Marquez was guaranteed $6 million and will probably wind up making around $10 million.

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