By CARLO ANOLIN
Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez, one of Manny Pacquiao’s greatest rivals, recognized the Filipino boxing legend following his official retirement from the sport.
“The retirement of a great fighter has arrived, a figure that rarely appears in boxing, a legend is leaving,” Marquez told ESPN Knockout’s Salvador Rodriguez.
Pacquiao and Marquez made one of the most storied rivalries in boxing history which began in a draw in May 2004.
Pacquiao scored a split decision win against Marquez four years later in March 2008 and followed it up with a majority decision victory in November 2011.
With the trilogy expected to conclude their rivalry, the Filipino fighting senator suffered a shock knockout defeat in the fourth and last bout billed as “Fight of the Decade” in December 2012.
Marquez’s sixth-round KO win landed on Ring Magazine’s Knockout of the Year award while the historic match was named Fight of the Year.
“What I experienced with him were four great fights, some controversial, but we settled the situation as it should have been. I faced a great fighter, one of the best in boxing history,” said the 48-year-old Mexican boxing icon.
Meanwhile, Mexican trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, who coached the likes of Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricardo Lopez, among others also considered Pacquiao as “one of the greatest things that boxing has ever seen” both as a fighter and a person.
Beristain admitted not getting sleep while looking for ways to counter Pacquiao. He got impressed when the Filipino icon knocked out Marco Antonio Barrera in their second meeting last October 2007.
“I saw it daily and couldn’t find a way to decipher it, the only thing that gave me hope was that Juan Manuel was an expert in fighting left-handers, but he was a different southpaw, he had a missile on his left,” recalled Beristain.
“Pacquiao is royalty… thinking of all the great fighters, he must be there, it really is historical what he did, and what he will continue to do, because he will surely be president of the Philippines.”
Pacquiao, the only eight-division world boxing champion, decided to run for President of the Philippines after his swan song against Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugas in their super WBA welterweight bout.