Juan Manuel Marquez (pictured) during the WBO world welterweight title fight against Manny Pacquiao on November 12. Marquez's claims he truly won a 2004 draw with Pacquiao and a narrow one-point loss in a 2008 rematch helped create the third fight and his shouts that he was robbed yet again could set the stage for a fourth fight
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 12: Juan Manuel Marquez reacts before the decision is announced that he lost by majority decision to Manny Pacquiao during the WBO world welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 12, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
LAS VEGAS -- The potential $200 million fight was saved by a very slim judges' call.
Manny Pacquiao defeated Juan Manuel Marquez in yet another excruciatingly close fight, winning a majority decision Saturday before a sellout crowd of 16,368 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to keep hopes alive for a 2012 match between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Judge Robert Hoyle had it a draw, 114-114, as did Yahoo! Sports. But judge Dave Moretti favored Pacquiao 115-113 and Glenn Trowbridge had Pacquiao winning 116-112. Thus, Pacquiao retained his World Boxing Organization welterweight title and kept alive a mega-bout against Mayweather.
Upon hearing the decision, Marquez and his team stormed out of the ring.
Mayweather, who routed Marquez by winning every round of a 2009 fight, is the only fighter in the world other than the Filipino congressman with a legitimate claim to boxing's mythical pound-for-pound top spot.
And after Saturday's performance, Mayweather may move up regardless.
Pacquiao has had difficulty in three fights with Marquez's counter-punching style and Saturday was no different. Marquez, who bulked up to 142 pounds, was able to consistently land a straight right hand and keep Pacquiao off-balance.
Pacquiao, who had been on a 14-fight winning streak going into the match, was only able to get his offense untracked in spurts. And unlike the first two bouts, in which he had four knockdowns, Pacquiao was unable to get Marquez onto the floor.
[Related: Angry Marquez says he might retire after 'robbery']
Pacquiao made a late run to close the gap after Marquez appeared to pull ahead in the middle of the fight. Neither man, though, was able to do much in the final round with the fight on the line.
The crowd was angry at the decision and several Marquez fans threw drinks toward the ring, splattering the ringside media section.
According to CompuBox, Pacquiao landed 176 of 578 punches. Marquez connected on 138 of 436 punches, preferring, as in his first two fights, to counter punch. Pacquiao had a 117-100 edge in power shots.
Their two previous bouts were furious battles, and both could have gone either way. Their 2004 match was a split draw, with one judge favoring Pacquiao, another Marquez and the third, Burt Clements, having it a draw.
But Pacquiao could have won that bout had Clements scored the first round, in which Pacquiao scored three knockdowns, 10-6. Clements scored it 10-7, later explaining he was unaware he was allowed to call a round 10-6. Had he scored it 10-6, as did the other two, Pacquiao would have pulled out a split decision.
[Related: Promoter Bob Arum ready to set up Pacquiao-Marquez IV]
Pacquiao scored a razor-thin split decision in their 2008 bout, in which Pacquiao lifted the World Boxing Council super featherweight belt from Marquez.
Pacquiao desperately wanted the third fight as a way to prove he was the better man. He was irked by the fact that Marquez wore a T-shirt to several public events that said, "Marquez Beat Pacquiao Twice." Pacquiao called it disrespectful.
In the feature undercard bout, WBO super lightweight champion Timothy Bradley, who signed with Top Rank in October in a bid to get a fight with Pacquiao, retained his belt by stopping 40-year-old ex-champion Joel Casamayor at 2:59 of the eighth.
It was a one-sided fight that Bradley dominated. Casamayor used dirty tactics, head butting often and had a point deducted, but he couldn't land many punches. Bradley, fighting for the first time since Jan. 29, wasn't as sharp as normal, but he put a beating on the veteran Cuban.
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