In an action-packed fight that lived up to the billing, Manny Pacquiao beat Juan Manuel Marquez by majority decision on Saturday night in Las Vegas, the third time these two boxers have battled for 12 rounds and fought a fight that easily could have gone either way.
One judge scored it a draw, 114-114, while one judge scored it for Pacquiao 115-113, and one scored it for Pacquiao 116-112. There will be some complaints -- Marquez and his corner were furious after the fight -- but this was too close a call for either fighter to have been confident he won. These boxers are essentially equals, but Pacquiao managed, for the second time against Marquez, to do just enough to win in the judges' eyes.
"The fans of Marquez, of course they're not happy," Pacquiao said as the pro-Marquez crowd booed him after the fight. "But my fans are very happy because it's clear I won the fight. ... It's very clear I won the fight."
This was the third fight between these two great boxers, and the third time that it was a closely matched, exciting affair. Their first bout, in 2004, ended in a draw. Their second fight, in 2008, was a split decision win for Pacquiao. And now Pacquiao has a majority decision win as well.
This time there were no knockdowns and no points in the fight in which either man even looked like he was in any real trouble. Instead, it was just 12 rounds of close, competitive, exciting boxing. Pacquiao was the more active boxer, while Marquez tended to land with a little more authority when he did land, but neither fighter could say he definitively deserved the victory.
But that didn't stop Marquez from saying afterward that he had been robbed.
"It's the second robbery of the fights we've had, and I think this one was even more clear than the first," Marquez said afterward. "It's hard when you're fighting against a rival and you're fighting against three judges also."
But no matter what Marquez thought, two judges went for Pacquiao, who improved his record to 54-3-2. Marquez falls to 53-6-1.
Pacquiao said he'd love to have a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- the fight that every boxing fan wants to see -- but that he'd also be willing to step into the ring with Marquez a fourth time.
"Any time, any time," Pacquiao said. "Let's get it on, make the fight happen. Let's give the people a good fight."
Giving the people a good fight is what Pacquiao and Marquez have now done three times.