LAS VEGAS – The incident happened 16 years ago. It ended up haunting Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time).
Pacquiao likened his vicious knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez to the one he experienced against Rustico Torrecampo in 1996 when, as a 17-year-old trying to make a name for himself in the fight game, he suffered his first career setback as a pro.
Torrecampo is credited as the first boxer to knock out the future Hall of Famer by dropping Pacquiao with a big right in the fifth round, from where the boxing superstar never got to recover.
It was exactly the same scenario Pacquiao found himself in against Marquez, who delivered a potential punch of the year in dealing the Filipino southpaw his worst career loss in 60 fights.
“Para rin `yung kay Torrecampo,” said the `Pacman,’ less than 24 hours following the harrowing experience of going down face first on the canvas as the pro-Mexican crowd at the MGM Grand celebrated Marquez’s finest moment.
Pacquiao, who turns 34 next week, couldn’t agree more with what Marquez described as the "perfect punch."
“Sa baba (chin) tumama e, kung sa panga lang, kaya kong i-shook (yun). Kaso sa baba tumama. Nag-fake ako sa kanya dalawang beses, sakto yung puwersa ng suntok niya sinalubong ko,” he said of the final moment of that classic welterweight fight.
He added with a laugh, “naramdaman ko itong pisngi ko (pointing to his right cheek) tumama sa lona.”
During training, Pacquiao said he was already thinking about that lethal right of his 39-year-old Mexican foe, the same weapon that had made life miserable for him in their first three encounters.
And it was the same punch that ended his night on Saturday.