I’m a certified fanatic in all things sports. I’ve been to a Super Bowl and a World Series game – I’ve been lucky enough to see NCAA Tournament games and the U.S. Open in both tennis and golf. I’ve seen Formula One and Triple Crown races, USC vs. UCLA at the Rose Bowl. I’ve seen thrilling, momentous, heart-stopping and mind-blowing. I’ve seen Springsteen 142 times. I know momentous and thrilling. But nothing I’ve seen compares to the Marquez-Pacquaio bout in Vegas last month. We’ve all heard it. “Nothing compares to a big boxing match in Vegas.” Naturally, I didn’t believe it. Of course it would be great, but the number #1? That simply wasn’t possible. I hugged Claude Humphrey as my Eagles smoked the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game back in the winter of 1980 – Dick Vermeil squeezed my cheeks as he was coming off the field – nothing could top that moment. I would go to Vegas with my old fraternity brothers. We would laugh and carouse - act like Kings of the World and use the boxing match as the quantifiable reason for coming together. Why not – should be fun – let’s do it.
There was a heightened sense of spectacle in Vegas that weekend – more action – more high rollers – more arm candy – than in my previous trips to Sin City. Saturday was crazed. Everyone seemed to be partying HARD. Mexico was strongly represented everywhere – at the gaming tables, at the bars and in the nightclubs. I knew Marquez was their hero. I knew that he could have won all three of the previous Pacquaio fights. I knew he was a warrior, but I expected the legend that is Pacquaio to still win a close battle. I expected greatness – but this was more than that – this was madness. Walking into the MGM arena – the electricity was explosive. The entire country of Mexico was in that arena, chanting, hugging, screaming and singing. Ole, ole, ole…ole, ole, ole, ole… over and over again… ole, ole, ole, ole… you couldn’t help but sing – the last prelim was full of action and movement – featherweight championship – perfect set up. Then the heroes emerged – first Marquez to roars and emotive fury I had never heard – then, Pacquaio. Michael Buffer did the “RUMBLE” and the arena shook. First round was just a feeling out process – everyone was on their feet waiting … the shots started landing in the 2nd. In the 3rd Marquez nailed Pac-man with a big overhead right and Manny goes down – insanity – I find myself screaming. I had no vested interest going into the fight, but now, I’m a yelling for Marquez. Manny got right up, but what a shot. Round 4 is close – Manny dealing – Marquez getting some power shots in – I am still screaming – then in Round 5 – Pacquaio takes control – pounding Marquez – jabs, body shots – straight left – Marquez goes down – back up – punches are fired by both men, but Pacquaio dominates round. More Manny at the start of the 6th – hard left hands – great flurry of punches – a sense that Pacquaio is taking control. Nervous – very nervous energy from the 25-1 crowd of Marquez supporters – their man was starting to get pummeled. Then Pacquaio goes in – misses – and Marquez turns and lands a monster right on the kisser – Manny goes down like he was shot – face first onto the mat – DELIRIUM ENSUES – TEARS, SCREAMS, WOMEN RIPPING THEIR CLOTHES OFF, UTTER MADNESS – I am hugging anybody with arm’s length – OH MY GOD! - THIS IS IT! – I understand – NOTHING COMPARES…
- Written by Tony DeMarco, VP of Fan Experience for the Lancaster Barnstormers
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