Marquez demolishes Pacquiao with sixth round knockout

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Marquez demolishes Pacquiao with sixth round knockout

LAS VEGAS – At long last, Juan Manuel Marquez got the better of Manny Pacquiao, and he did it in ruthless fashion via sixth-round knockout in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.


In a brutal welterweight war of attrition, a counter right hand from Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) sent Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs), into the canvas face-first and emphatically put an exclamation point on their fourth fight after failing three times to edge the Filipino in the past.  The official time was 2:59.

“We knew he was going to come out aggressive,” Marquez said.  “We knew we had to capitalize on that.  The last three rounds, I thought Pacquiao was coming to knock me out, and I knew I could knock him down.  I landed the perfect punch.”

Pacquiao, 147, had outworked Marquez, 143, in the first two rounds, but the Mexican responded in the third with a massive overhand right that sent Pacquiao careening to the canvas.  Though Pacquiao recovered, Marquez had seemed to gain the momentum.

Of course, the perpetual ebb and flow between the two combatants would continue in the fifth round, as Pacquiao decked Marquez with a straight left hand as they exchanged.  Marquez would rise to his feet, and although Pacquiao would subsequently take a lead in the sixth, the end would come swiftly and viciously.

Moments before the bell, Pacquiao flicked his right jab out and Marquez snuck a straight right hand through the guard that would put the Filipino down for good, as the arena was inundated with jubilant roars and desperate cries depending on the fans’ respective contingents.

Referee Kenny Bayless signaled for the fight to end as it was apparent Pacquiao would be unable to beat the count.  Pacquiao remained on the canvas for about a minute but eventually came to his senses and was healthy enough to do a postfight interview.

“I got hit by a punch I didn’t see,” said Pacquiao, who had no plans to retire.

Judges Adalaide Byrd, Steve Weisfeld, and John Keane all had Pacquiao ahead 47-46 at the time of the stoppage.  Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, reflected on his charge’s first knockout loss since 1999, when the Filipino was a 112-pound flyweight.

“Manny came back and was in charge,” Roach said.  “He just got a little too careless and he was hurting Marquez.”

Heading into the bout, whispers surfaced regarding Pacquiao’s flagging commitment to boxing.  Between his political ambitions as a congressman to arriving in his Hollywood training camp two weeks late, the Filipino’s extracurricular pursuits were magnified considering his last two outings were subpar by his standards.

Many ringside observers scored Pacquiao’s third fight with Marquez in November 2011 in favor of his Mexican foe.  Then six months ago, the “Pac-Man” lost a highly disputed split decision to Timothy Bradley that left the boxing world wondering if Pacquiao’s prime had expired.

Marquez solidified those qualms into stone as he not only defeated his longtime tormentor, he entered himself into the discussion of greatest Mexican fighter ever alongside the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez.  

At Friday’s weigh-in, the 39-year-old unveiled a chiseled physique, crediting his new appearance to strength and conditioning coach Angel Hernandez.  After a draw and two consecutive decision losses to Pacquiao over the past eight years, the new-look Marquez has rejuvenated his career and opened the door to further pay-per-view possibilities.

Bob Arum of Top Rank, who works with both fighters, has stated that former lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios would be in the mix to fight the winner next in the spring of 2013.  However, following a likely Fight of the Year candidate, a fifth encounter between the two rivals might be in the cards.

“Fifth fight?  Why not?” Arum asked aloud.  “Have you seen a more exciting fight in years?”

While Pacquiao expressed his interest in another matchup, Marquez revealed that he would savor the victory with his family before making his next move.

UNDERCARD

• Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) Michael Farenas (34-3-4, 26 KOs), WBA interim jr. lightweight title: Gamboa, from Guantanamo, Cuba, returned to the ring after a 15-month layoff to post a competitive 12-round unanimous decision over southpaw Michael Farenas of Gubat, Philippines.

With his promoter 50 Cent rapping in the ring as he made his ringwalk, Gamboa, 130, instantly showcased his blinding handspeed in the second round, knocking Farenas down from a left uppercut in the closing seconds of the stanza.  

But Farenas, 130, persisted and pressed forward, clipping the Cuban with several right hooks and left crosses in the ensuing rounds.  While the Filipino would make the bout a competitive contest, Gamboa attacked when necessary, decking Farenas again in the seventh with a straight right hand.

In the ninth round, Gamboa seemed to have finally put Farenas away, but as he rattled off a string of unanswered shots with his foe on the ropes, the Filipino unleashed a counter right hook and straight left that put Gamboa on the seat of his pants.

With his legs now as solid as a bowl of jelly, Gamboa aimed to buy time by hitting Farenas below the belt and holding him excessively.  Although Farenas seemed to be the aggressor and land the more effective shots in the final three stanzas, his late surge was not enough to come back on the cards.

Robert Hoyle (117-109), Richard Houck (118-108) and Glenn Trowbridge (117-108) scored the fight for the right man, but much wider than would be expected.

“He gave me some good rounds,” Gamboa said.  “It’s been a while since I’ve fought and [Farenas] gave me a good fight.”

“I thought it was a close fight, but I’m not down after my performance,” Farenas said.  “I gave it my all and know I can compete at this level.”

• Miguel Vazquez (33-3, 13 KOs) UD12 Mercito Gesta (26-1-1, 14 KOs), IBF lightweight title: The 5’10’’ Vazquez enjoyed a three-inch reach advantage over Gesta, but instead of exploiting his height, the native of Guadalajara, Mex., won a 12-round unanimous decision with his fleet feet.  Gesta, 134, demonstrated a lack of urgency throughout the bout, and the lack of pressure allowed Vazquez just enough real estate to pivot away from the southpaw’s offensive advances.

Vazquez kept Gesta at bay by circling to his left, pumping his left jab and scoring with the occasional lead right hand.  Although Gesta would slightly pick up the pace toward the conclusion of the title tilt, he fell short of connecting with anything substantial to wobble Vazquez.  The San Diego resident via Mandaue City, Philippines, suffered his first defeat, but at age 25, he has plenty of time to learn from the experience.

Patricia Morse-Jarman (119-109), John McKaie (117-111), and C.J. Ross (118-110) gave the nod to the Mexican incumbent, who successfully defended his belt for the fourth time.

“[Vazquez] was great in there,” said Ricky Mota, Vazquez’s manager.  “Gesta’s strong, but [Vazquez] kept outboxing him round after round.”

“He was very awkward,” Gesta said of Vazquez.  “I couldn’t get my rhythm going.”

The Filipino’s cornerman was in accord.

“We worked the entire camp on cutting the ring off, and we couldn’t do it,” said Gesta’s trainer, Vince Parra.

• Javier Fortuna (20-0, 15 KOs) UD12 Patrick Hyland (27-0, 12 KOs), WBA interim featherweight title: Fortuna, 126, earned his first world title belt with a 12-round unanimous decision of Irishman Patrick Hyland, 126.  Fortuna, a flashy southpaw from La Romana, D.R., came into the bout renowned for his offensive displays of firepower, but was lured into a tactical fight in the early going.  

Hyland, from Dublin, was content to stay on the outside of his 22-year-old foe in hopes he would physically fade as the rounds progressed.  While Hyland had varying amounts of success in the final third of the fight, he was unable to knock out Fortuna.  The Dominican had already won the majority of the first eight rounds with his handspeed in their exchanges, which were few and far between all night.

Gary Merritt (118-110), Duane Ford (116-112), and Dave Moretti (115-113) all saw it for Fortuna.

“I was looking for an easy knockout, but I underestimated Hyland.  It ended up being more difficult than I thought,” Fortuna said.

• Jose Ramirez (1-0, 1 KO) TKO1 Corey Seigwarth (2-2, 1 KO), lightweights: Ramirez, a 2012 Olympian from Avenal, Calif., wasted no time in jumping on Seigwarth, a Denver resident.  The 20-year-old debutant’s early pressure overwhelmed Seigwarth, 136, as a left jab spun him around and was a precursor of what was to follow.

Moments later, a left hook upstairs from Ramirez decked Seigwarth.  Although Seigwarth would rise to his feet, another series of unanswered left hooks and right hands to the head from Ramirez, 137, caused referee Vic Drakulich to call a halt to the bout at 2:05.  

“It was something different fighting as a pro for the first time, but I felt strong,” Ramirez said.  “[Having] the smaller gloves, and being able to hit guys without the headgear was great.  Jose Ramirez is 1-0, and for all the fans especially back at home in Avenal, I want to thank them and hope they continue to support me.”

• Dodie Boy Peñalosa Jr. (10-0, 10 KOs) KO2 Jesus Lule (6-5, 1 KO), featherweights: Peñalosa, a southpaw featherweight from Cebu City, Philippines, extended both his knockout and win streaks to 10 with a second-round stoppage of Jesus Lule, 124.

After an uneventful first frame, the Filipino abruptly ended the clash with a left uppercut to the body followed by a looping right that detonated on Lule’s temple, sending him to the canvas for good.  Official time was 1:12.

Peñalosa’s pedigree was evident in the corner, as his father Dodie Sr. and uncle Gerry were world champions in their heyday.  Lule, from Fort Myers, Fla., had won five straight before the loss.

“The knockout came so sudden,” said Peñalosa, 123.5.  “I was surprised he didn’t get up, but I hit him with a very good shot.  I want to thank my father for training me well, and my promoter is Manny Pacquiao, so it’s up to him to see what’s next.”

• Ernie Sanchez (14-3, 5 KOs) UD8 Coy Evans (10-2-1, 2 KOs), junior lightweights:  In an exciting junior lightweight slugfest, Sanchez, from Pacquiao’s hometown of General Santos, Philippines, outworked Philadelphia’s Evans over eight rounds.  Evans, 126.5, buckled Sanchez, 127, late in the second with a right cross, but was unable to put him down.  The momentum shifted in the third, as a series of left hooks to the head and body punctuated by a screaming right cross from Sanchez floored Evans, who would recover but was faced with fighting from behind the rest of the way.  

Lisa Giampa and Jerry Roth had the bout 78-73 for Sanchez, while Tim Cheatham scored it 77-74 for the Filipino.

“He hurt me in the second, but it was a good thing I trained my hardest in camp, because I was able to take it,” Sanchez said through his coach Nonoy Neri, who interpreted his fighter’s words from the Bisaya language.  “In the third, when I knocked him down, I stayed careful not to get reckless and continued to fight my fight.”

• Alexis Hernandez (3-1, 1 KO) TKO1 Jazzma Hogue (2-4-1), junior featherweights: Hernandez, 121, swiftly concluded Hogue’s night with two knockdowns.  The first came courtesy of a Hernandez left hook, and when Hogue, 121, rose to his feet, he stood on shaky ground.  Hernandez, from Las Vegas, smelled blood and started to wind up with his shots; another powerful right hand and left hook soon had Hogue, a native of Farmington, N.M., doubling over once more.  Referee Jay Nady waved the bout off at 2:20.

CSN Bay Area Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and panelist for Ring Magazine’s Ratings Board.  E-mail him at rmaquinana@gmail.com, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

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USATSI

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

This is the NBA Finals that will define the Warriors forever

This is the NBA Finals that will define the Warriors forever

There are no more ways to extol the virtues of the Golden State Warriors without redundancy. They have owned three consecutive regular seasons and three consecutive Western Conference playoffs, and just finished savaging the last one faster than any team since the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers, who didn’t have to play as many games as these Warriors did.

But now the season begins, and in the pass-fail world of the NBA Finals, this is the one that will define the Warriors for the ages.

After mugging the San Antonio Spurs, 129-115, to close out the West final in the minimum number of sanctioned events, the Warriors now wait for the resolution of Cleveland-Boston to begin the final assault on their destiny.

They did so without giving in to their occasional predilection for easing up on the throttle. They took an early lead, widened it slowly and carefully and made damned sure the Spurs never felt like they could do as the Celtics had done the night before in Cleveland. The Warriors were coldly efficient (well, okay, those 17 turnovers were bothersome but not ultimately an issue) at both ends of the floor and all points inbetween, and the result and its margin were both fair representations of the difference between the two teams.

In dispatching the Spurs, they became the first team ever to put 120 points on a Gregg Popovich-coached team three consecutive times; indeed the only time Popovich ever had one of his teams allow 120 in back-to-back games was when the 2005 team that eventually won the NBA title beat the Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors, both in overtime.

And while this series will be remembered as the one in which the Spurs had the least amount of weaponry, it will also be the one in which the Warriors will be remembered for wasting only one of the eight halves they played. It is difficult, in other words, to make the case that San Antonio would have won the series even with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. We do know it would still be going on, but the outcome seems only slightly more in doubt in such a case.

But as this affects the Warriors, this next series will dictate all of it. Win, and they can claim a mini-dynasty. Lose, and they will damned in the court of public opinion in ways that make last year’s 3-1 memes seem downright charitable.

It is the price they pay for being very good already and then adding Kevin Durant without giving up anything of real substance. It’s the price they pay for wanting it all and then doubling down for more.

People and teams who did that are not treated kindly unless they win everything that can be won, and the Warriors are now that team – like the Yankees of lore and Patriots of today, they are the standard of both excellence and excess, and marrying the two without danger is not possible, as they learned a year ago.

But that was then, Draymond Green’s wayward hand and five minutes of 0-for-everything shooting is just history. They can adapt and avenge if not eradicate the hard lesson of 2016 and be thought of as the team they all believe themselves to be.

All they have to do is take the Celtics or Cavaliers and ender them inert. They don’t have to do it in four games; chasing numbers is a fool’s errand as they discovered last year chasing the now-meaningless 73.

They just have to do it four times, and if they play as they have, winning 12 consecutive games by an average margin of 16 points and change  against three other quality teams, they will succeed at the hardest level basketball can create. And whatever people may say of them good or ill, they will have achieved what was demanded of them by both supporter and detractor alike.

And that, to paraphrase Kevin Durant, is what they came to do. Win the thing, and not worry about the numbers -- especially not the style points.