Juan Manuel Marquez may be older, retired, and more mellow as a human being, but he hasn’t put aside his rivalry with Manny Pacquiao.
The legendary Mexican fighter was voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2020, but was finally able to enjoy his induction in person this past weekend. As HOF festivities resumed in Canastota, NY after two years of downtime due to Covid restrictions, Marquez celebrated alongside other modern day legends such as Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, James Toney, Andre Ward, and Laila Ali, among others.
At the site of the Hall of Fame, Marquez sat down with Showtime Sports for a video interview, where his 4-fight rivalry with the Filipino icon was a central theme in the commemoration of his 21-year career.
"I fought four times with Manny Pacquiao," Marquez said in his still-improving English. "It was incredible fights. Top fights in my career. I think Pacquiao is the best opponent in my career."
When asked to recall the nearly disastrous first round of their 2004 first meeting, when he went down three times before fighting on to a draw, the 4-division, 7-time world champ remembers everything vividly.
"The first round was something bad for me, for my team….I have in my mind, ‘I keep training, I keep preparing myself very hard for the fight. I don"t let my belts go in one round.’ I get up for continue to the fight. Many people told me the same. Maybe people think the fight is finished in one round. And then I said ‘No. I trained to defend my belts, I need to get up.’
"I want[ed] to continue…That third knockdown…God helped me. My back was on the floor. [but] I keep training hard and I said ‘God, help me…I need you’ and then I get up and continue to the fight.
"Maybe that moment changes my career. If [referee] Joe Cortez says ‘that"s it,’ I don"t know what happens with my career. Everything happens for a reason."
For Marquez, that reason may have come eight years later when he stopped Pacquiao cold with a vicious right hand in the sixth round of their fourth and final encounter.
"I remember I felt very focused for the fourth fight. I said I need to win by knockout. I trained hard. I prepared myself very hard for the fight. Many people think it was a lucky punch. [It] Never was a lucky punch. I keep training in the ring, I keep training every day. When I wake up and go to run, every morning, I say ‘what do I need to do to win the fight?" Pacquiao did a feint, he"s going inside…when Pacquiao did that, I said, ‘[this] is my moment" and I landed my right hand. It was incredible."
When asked whether he feels that he won all four of those fights with Pacquiao, Marquez had a definitive answer.
"I think [so] and I think the sport of boxing fans think the same….It was a close fight…I get my pen, my sheet, and I [scored] every round. I think I won the four fights. The second fight was a close fight, but I think I won the fight. The third fight I won clearly. And the fourth fight was [clear]…Pacquiao wants to make a fifth fight and I say ‘no more." After four fights, I think we won the four fights. To accept a fight [only] for the money is no good for me or for the Mexican fans."
Marquez, despite his insistence on having won all four of his encounters with Pacquiao, does not diminish the Filipino icon or his place as an all-time great in the sport. As a matter of fact, he readily accepts him as the most important foe of his career, well above anyone else he’s faced in the ring.
After going through a list of his best wins and greatest opponents, Marquez came back around to Manny.
"Pacquiao was another level"