Manny Pacquiao, left, and Juan Manuel Marquez trade punches. (Eric Jamison / Associated…)
LAS VEGAS -- As Manny Pacquiao was transported to a hospital and Juan Manuel Marquez’s nose was swollen to the size of half a cantaloupe, boxing’s power players projected a fifth meeting between the pair during the post-fight news conference late Saturday.
Marquez rallied from a fifth-round knockdown and an extended pounding afterward that left him again trailing on all three scorecards to produce a devastating knockout of Pacquiao in the final second of the sixth round on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
That, after they’ve battled to two narrow decisions won by Pacquiao and a 2004 draw in their first meeting.
“Everyone’s asking me about the fifth fight,” said Todd DuBoef, president of Top Rank, which promotes both fighters. “Great fights, great fighters become synonymous with each other. And when you’re entertained like that, how can you not make another?
“You can’t script fights, but when you look at the body of work, it’s the most engaging series of fights in the last 50 years.”
Fans of the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier trilogy might have something to say about that, but who else?
PHOTOS: Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4
HBO pay-per-view President Mark Taffet is clearly intrigued by another. He said Saturday’s bout was Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns for six rounds.
"They know everything about each other," Taffet said. "This time, they decided to throw all caution to the wind and said, 'Let’s get it on.' "
Pacquiao was knocked down in the third round "by a punch I didn’t see."
He was convinced going into the bout that he could stand up to Marquez’s best punch, but the Mexican fighter's strength work under the eye of former steroid figure Angel "Memo" Heredia proved critical.
Pacquiao hadn’t been knocked down since 2003 against Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov.
Late in the sixth round, with Pacquiao moving forward while throwing a soft right, "I hit under his guard and got in a right hand," Marquez said.
Pacquiao fell face first onto the canvas and was out for several seconds as his cornermen rushed furiously to his side to bring him back to consciousness.
"I feel so, so happy that the referee raised my hand," Marquez said. "This was thanks to the work I did, the result of the training."
Asked about his interest in a fifth fight, Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) said, "I know in the future I will rest and celebrate. I'm thinking more about the celebration than who I'm fighting next."
Pacquiao said in the ring afterward that he too will rest, but plans to fight again. Asked specifically about Marquez being his next opponent, Pacquiao said, "Why not?"
Pacquiao previously told Top Rank he wants to fight in late April.
For Marquez, the victory was especially sweet because he again trailed, 47-46, on the scorecards after five rounds, and would’ve been down 57-55 on all three because Pacquiao battered him in the sixth round before getting "careless," according to Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach.
"I never thought he was going to beat me," Marquez said. "I was coming strong. He came at me good, but I was strong.
"I was not going to lose that fight."
Photos: Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4
Pacquiao-Marquez 4: Round-by-round recap
Marquez's victory over Pacquiao is right on the nose