Juan Manuel Marquez lands a left against Manny Pacquiao during their welterweight… (Eric Jamison / Associated…)
LAS VEGAS -- Manny Pacquiao was seeking to definitively affirm Saturday night the judging that gave him two decisions and a draw in his three tight fights against rival Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
But Marquez, who earned a draw in their first meeting and lost two controversial decisions in their second and third bouts, caught the former welterweight champion from the Philippines with a jarring right to knock him out just before the bell to end the sixth round in their non-title welterweight bout.
“I threw a perfect punch,” said the the interim light-welterweight champion from Mexico. “I knew Manny could knock me out at any time.
“I felt he was coming to knock me out the last three rounds and I knew he was going to be wide open.”
Pacquiao went down in the third round but returned the favor and knocked down Marquez in the fifth. The fighters, who started slow before engaging in a slugfest, were exchanging big punches throughout the sixth round before Marquez threw a right hand that sent Pacquiao to the canvas face down at 2:59 of the round.
Marquez improves to 55-6-1 with the 40th knockout of his career, helping to end the torment he's suffered through, the narrow margins dividing him further from the mythical worldwide status that Pacquiao (54-5-2) achieved.
Pacquiao had been promised at least $23 million for the fight while Marquez will get a guaranteed $6 million.
Round-by-round recap (scoring not official):
Round 1: After a thrilling buildup in a sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena, referee Kenny Bayless gave the fighters their final instructions and the fight begins. Pacquiao's ready to charge. A Marquez counter right lands. A nice Pacquiao left. They move for position. This isn't the three minutes of action Pacquiao promised, but he did press the action, and did enough. Pacquiao wins the round, 10-9.
Round 2: Again, they're waiting each other out. Pacquiao shoots in a right, then misses a left uppercut. Marquez gets in a short right. Pacquiao with a straight left, a nice punch. Marquez content to stand back. He gets in a good right. Again, Pacquiao did more work. Pacquiao wins the round, 10-9. Pacquiao leads, 20-18.
Round 3: Marquez throws overhand left. Pacquiao charges with a right that lands. Good left by Pacquiao. Counter left by Marquez. Left uppercut to body by Marquez. Big right and Pacquiao is down at 1:12 mark. Hard right by Marquez, then a big right to body by Marquez. Hard left uppercut by Marquez. Pacquiao fighting buzzed. Hard right by Pacquiao, Ton of passion in this fight at end, both guys swinging. Marquez wins the round, 10-8. Fight is even, 28-28.
Round 4: Marquez lands with a high left. Marquez follows with a straight right. Pacquiao not in huge hurry to engage here. Pacquiao lands a jab, but Marquez makes him eat two hard rights before the bell. Marquez wins the round, 10-9. Marquez leads, 38-37.
Round 5: Pacquiao drops Marquez with hard left. Incredible round. Marquez takes eight count. Pacquiao is at his most dynamic, battering Marquez with set-up lefts. Hard rights. He had Marquez cornered twice and wailed on him. Pacquiao wins the round, 10-8. Pacquiao leads, 47-46.
Round 6: Big left snaps Marquez head back. Marquez missing now. Marquez's nose is bleeding and appears it might be broken. He's breathing with mouth wide open. Hard right by Marquez. Jab by Marquez. Pacquiao lands a right. Marquez follows with wicked hard right as Pacquiao was moving forward. Pacquiao's out, not moving, fight is over. Marquez wins. He runs to a corner and stands. Pacquiao down on canvas with his cornermen over him. He's now sitting up. Marquez wins by knockout at 2:59.