The third showdown between the hall-of-fame bound rivals, which Pacquiao won via controverisal majority decision, received 44.6 percent of the votes in this year’s RingTV.com readers’ choice year-end awards poll. Other big events of 2011 that received votes include Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II (24.2 percent), Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz (12.5), Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye (10.5), and Pacquiao-Shane Mosley (8.1).
Marquez was all but counted out by odds makers, boxing media and most hardcore fans going into his third bout with Pacquiao, who opened as an 8-to-1 favorite to defeat his Mexican nemesis.
The 38-year-old veteran, who battled Pacquiao to a draw in their classic first encounter at featherweight and lost a disputed split nod (as well as his 130-pound title) to the Filipino superstar in their rematch, was thought to be too old, too slow and too small for his rival, who had won titles at 135, 140 and 147 pounds with brutal stoppage victories since their second bout.
But despite the odds against Marquez, the interest in the third bout far exceeded that of their first two fights. Both Pacquiao and Marquez have diehard national followings whose collective pride seemed to hinge on the result of their third encounter.
Pacquiao’s fans wanted their hero to shut the mouth of Marquez, who claimed to have won the first two fights, and they were pretty confident that the multi-division champ would do so by knockout. Marquez’s fans wanted their man to knock down Pacquiao’s fans, who have become rather obnoxious on boxing forums and message boards, a notch or two. The reigning RING lightweight champ’s Mexican fans wanted revenge. Pacquiao has earned the un-PC nickname of “Mexicutioner” for of all of his victories over notable Mexican boxers.
Hardcore fans just wanted a good fight, and some believed they would get one due to the way Pacquiao’s and Marquez’s styles meshed.
The pride and anticipation led to record numbers.
The fight drew a sellout crowd of 16,368 to the MGM Grand’s Garden Arena, and sold the most tickets (15,498) for a boxing match since the Oscar De La Hoya-Mayweather event in 2007, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The massive turnout generated $11,648,300, the ninth all-time best boxing gate in Nevada history.
In Mexico, an estimated 37.2 million fans watched the fight on the Azteca network, making Pacquiao-Marquez III the most watched boxing match ever in the country. The fight, which drew 31 ratings points (the first fight ever to exceed 30 in Mexico), outdid the Saul Alvarez-Matthew Hatton fight, which received a 24 ratings (28.8 million viewers) and exceeded the rating for Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito, which attracted 32.4 million viewers in Mexico last November.
In the U.S, where the fight was televised on HBO Pay Per View, it received in the neighborhood of 1.4 million PPV buys, Pacquiao’s best pay-per-view total ever. Pacquiao-Marquez III exceeded Mayweather-Ortiz and Pacquiao’s previous PPV best against Oscar De La Hoya, both of which drew 1.25 million pay-per-view buys.
The third bout also exceeded the 1.3 million mark Pacquiao reached with his disappointing bout against Shane Mosley in May.
Pacquiao-Marquez III was not a disapointing fight. Marquez gave as good as he got for 12 rounds, winning the fight in the eyes of many fans and members of the media.
The controversy could help sell a fourth bout between the rivals, but the fight the public wants to see, Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, is the “event” that will shatter all of boxing’s gate, ratings and revenue records.