Marquez knocks Pacquiao out cold in sixth round

959551.jpg

Marquez knocks Pacquiao out cold in sixth round

LAS VEGAS -- No need for Juan Manuel Marquez to impress the judges. No need for the referee to count to 10.

Marquez took care of all of his business Saturday night with a thunderous right hand that left Manny Pacquiao face first on the canvas with his remarkable career in question.

Unable to win a decision in their first three fights, Marquez won the old-fashioned way with a huge right hand that put Pacquiao down for the second time in the fight at 2:59 of the sixth round.

Referee Kenny Bayless never bothered to count as Marquez leaped into his handlers' arms in celebration and Pacquiao's wife broke into tears at ringside.

"I threw a perfect punch," Marquez said. "I knew Manny could knock me out at any time."

It was a stunning end to a thrilling fight, the fourth one in the last eight years between the two men. It could also be the end of the Filipino's career, though he said in the ring afterward he would like to fight Marquez for a fifth time.

"If you give us a chance, we'll fight again," Pacquiao said. "I was just starting to feel confident and then I got careless."

Pacquiao had been down in the third round but knocked Marquez down in the fifth and the two were exchanging heavy blows in the sixth round before Marquez threw a right hand that flattened Pacquiao face down on the canvas.

"I thought I was getting him in the last couple of rounds but I got hit by a strong punch," Pacquiao said. "I never expected that punch."

Pacquiao was down for about two minutes before his handlers managed to get him up as Marquez celebrated and the sold-out crowd at the MGM erupted.

After being helped to his corner, Pacquiao sat on a stool, blew his nose and stared vacantly ahead as his handlers cut his gloves off. It was a stunning end to a furious fight, and Pacquiao was later taken to a hospital for precautionary examination.

"We always worked on that punch," Marquez said. "We knew he was going to come out aggressive so we had a fight plan that was more technical. We were able to capitalize on it."

Marquez had vowed to finally beat Pacquiao after losing two close fights and settling for a draw in the first fight. But after Pacquiao knocked him down in the fifth round and was landing big left hands, it looked like it would be Pacquiao's night.

The two came out for the sixth round and the pace was just as relentless. Both were landing big punches and both were brawling when suddenly as the round came to close Marquez shot out a right hand that landed flush to the jaw of Pacquiao, who crumpled to the canvas in a heap.

"I felt he was coming to knock me out the last three rounds and I knew he was going to be wide open," Marquez said.

It was the second loss in a row for Pacquiao, who dropped a decision to Timothy Bradley in June and who had vowed to regain his prominence in the ring.

Pacquiao was aggressive from the opening bell, but paid the price in the third round when he got caught by a Marquez right hand that put him down. Pacquiao got back up and seemingly took control of the fight, dropping Marquez in the fifth round and landing the bigger punches until he was dropped.

"I got hit by a punch I didn't see," Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao, who earned more than 20 million for the fight, was ahead 47-46 on all three scorecards after the fifth round.

There was no title at stake in the 147-pound fight, but that didn't stop 16,348 fans from filling the MGM Grand Arena and roaring in unison from the opening bell as the two fighters went after each other.

Ringside punching stats underscored the ferocity of the bout, showing Pacquiao landing 94 of 256 punches to 52 of 246 for Marquez. But it was the one big right hand from Marquez that counted more than anything, knocking Pacquiao out for the first time in a career that goes back 17 years.

"He was in charge," Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach said. "He just got a little too careless and got hit with a punch he didn't see."

Promoter Bob Arum immediately said he could see a fifth fight between the two boxers, and a dazed Pacquiao seemed to agree.

"Why not?" he said.

Pacquiao weighed the class limit of 147 pounds, but it was Marquez who looked like the stronger fighter entering the ring after having bulked up with the help of a strength conditioner, though he weighed in at 143 pounds. In their earlier fights, Pacquiao had been the bigger puncher, knocking Marquez down a total of four times, but on this night it was Marquez who had the biggest punch.

The stunning knockout was the first real loss by Pacquiao in seven years. He lost a close decision to Bradley in his last fight, but most ringside observers believed he had won it fairly convincingly.

Marquez improved to 55-6-1 with 40 knockouts, while Pacquiao fell to 54-5-2.

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

bruins-noel-acciari.jpg

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.