World Boxing Council president Jose Sulaiman was quoted as saying, “I was practically embarrassed,” in regards to Manny Pacquiao’s performance against Juan Manuel Marquez last Saturday. Although the official records list Pacquiao as the victor, many boxing journalists, current fighters, and retired boxers saw the fight as a Marquez victory or a draw. In a Twitter exchange with me, Sulaiman cleared up his comments and blamed Pacquiao’s performance on politics:
I believe this was a fight in which I didn’t see the real Pacquiao (That does not demerit Marquez who fought like a champion). I did say that this was probably the worst version of Pacquiao since I know him, I believe you can’t blame it on boxing. He is a federal senator and I believe he’s focused and has other priorities over boxing now that are somehow taking what he has been as a fighter. That you can quote.
It’s an interesting explanation and there’s probably some truth to Pacquiao being less focused on boxing than he was even five years ago. That said, I believe that Juan Manuel Marquez was simply the better boxer on Saturday. It’s actually embarrassing to see other Filipinos blindly sticking up for Pacquiao without reason or logic (and in some cases, without even knowing how fights are scored).
Even though I believe Marquez won, a draw would have been an acceptable score too. I thought Pacquiao lost face by saying that he “clearly” won. That’s just complete garbage. At best, it was a very close fight. At worst, Pacquiao was out-boxed by Marquez, who displayed cleaner punching, showed superior defense, controlled the pace and spacing of the fight, and neutralized Pacquiao’s formidable left hand for the majority of the bout.
At least Sulaiman didn’t use the word “embarrassed” in our exchange. With all the garbage the WBC has pulled over the years, I don’t think he should be embarrassed about any fighter’s performance.