After Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez had fought to a stalemate in their 2004 featherweight title bout, anticipation was high that their March 2008 rematch -- this time fought at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, for Marquez's junior lightweight title -- would resolve the fighters' rivalry. Instead, it only served to intensify it.
By this time, Pacquiao, now 29, had sandwiched an all-time great trilogy with Erik Morales and a second beating of Marco Antonio Barrera between the first Marquez fight and the rematch, exploding into one of boxing's brightest stars.
Marquez, 34, had fought a similar quality of competition in the interim, falling to Chris John but besting Orlando Salido and Barrera, among others. Although considered no slouch, Marquez needed a win over Pacquiao, in the minds of many, to validate his place among the pound-for-pound upper crust. In the end, Marquez completed only the second half of that mission, proving himself by outlanding Pacquiao over 12 rounds but losing crucial ground on the scorecards to a third-round knockdown.
ESPN.com recently enlisted HBO to gather the fighters' thoughts as they reviewed each of their first three bouts and looked ahead to fight No. 4, set for Dec. 8 (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In this segment, Pacquiao and Marquez discuss their controversial second clash.
Juan Manuel Marquez
In my opinion, the second fight was the closest of our trilogy. It was a very hard-fought fight and much more exciting than the first one.
This time Pacquiao surprised me a bit, as he wasn't as aggressive as he had been in the first fight. He seemed to have become a more complete and certainly a much better all-around fighter. He was no longer a one-handed fighter like he was the first time we fought. The left-hand-happy Pacquiao had become a two-fisted fighter, using his right effectively.
I was able to control the first half of the fight by dictating the pace and I was able to build a lead. I felt that I was hurting him, which made me more confident, so I became a little more aggressive and it cost me, as I got caught with a left hand and went down in the third round. I was angry at myself, but I was not hurt.
The last six rounds were very competitive, and I felt he was trying very hard, and I was able to counter him very effectively. I was landing a lot of right hands and knew I had the fight won.
But once again the judges took my victory away by giving Pacquiao the nod by split decision. I still get very angry when I think about hearing those scores being read.
After two fights, I felt I had won at least 19 of the 24 rounds. Pacquiao's four knockdowns made the scores closer than they really were. Look, after 24 rounds, I have two scores in my favor and one even, and Pacquiao's got three his way -- but one of them was by only one point.
Just like the first fight, I knew I beat him. And just like the first fight, the judges didn't see it my way. There isn't much I can do about that. I did my best. Too bad the judges didn't do the same.
I was looking forward to my rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez. Our first fight had been exciting, and even though it took a few years for Marquez to finally accept a rematch with me, the fans seemed happy to see it, too. The arena was electric. It inspired me.
After I scored the knockdown early in the fight, I went back to my corner thinking I would finish him in the next round. Freddie Roach told me, "We have him right where we want him. Finish it."
Well, I couldn't finish him in the next round, and as the fight continued I thought, "Here we go again." Marquez's superb boxing skills and excellent stamina got him back into the fight.
After the eighth round, Freddie told me the fight was becoming too close and we needed to win the last four rounds to avoid the close decision we had in our first fight.
"Take it to him Manny," he said. "Pick up the pace -- double the pace. You've got the better speed and power. It's time to use all your weapons."
I stopped counterpunching in those last four rounds and attacked him constantly. Staying away from his right hand helped me to score more, too.
Freddie's advice was right, and I thought it was a clear victory for me that night because I won those last four rounds.
I was so happy to be a world champion again. It's a night I'll never forget.