Juan Manuel Marquez exorcised the demons within and got the revenge he wanted over Manny Pacquiao. And he got it in dramatic fashion.
Marquez used a big right hand just before the end of the sixth round to knock out Pacquiao on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden and finally win in four tries against his nemesis.
The Mexican's previous three efforts had resulted in a draw in 2004, a split-decision loss in 2008, and then a majority decision loss to Pacquiao on Nov. 12, 2011.
This time, while trying to land a right hand of his own, Pacquiao walked into Marquez's devastating right hand. Pacquiao hit the canvas and he lay face-down near his corner.
Referee Kenny Bayless quickly counted out Pacquiao, the end officially coming at 2:59 of the round. Marquez, 39, improved to 55-6-1 with his 40th knockout. Pacquiao, who turns 34 on Dec. 17, dropped to 54-5-2 and lost consecutive fights for the first time. Pacquiao was coming off a controversial 12-round split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley on June 8 at the Grand Garden.
"I knew Manny could knock me out at any time," Marquez said through an interpreter. "I threw the perfect punch."
Pacquiao said, "I got hit by a punch I didn't see.
"I was careless. I did my best. But that's boxing; that's sports."
With former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife at ringside among the sellout crowd of 16,348, Pacquiao and Marquez looked to pick up where they left off in 2011.
Romney visited Pacquiao in his dressing room before the fight and they had a brief conversation. According to Pacquiao's publicist Fred Sternburg, Romney told Pacquiao, "Hi, Manny. I ran for president and I lost."
Pacquiao entered as a minus-200 betting favorite after being as high as minus-370 Friday morning. He came in at 151 pounds while Marquez weighed 148 after weighing in at 143 on Friday.
The fight quickly heated up. Pacquiao went after Marquez early, trying to duplicate what he had done in their first meeting back in 2004 when he knocked down Marquez three times in the first round.
But Marquez had planned accordingly.
"We had to use our technique and skill," he said. "We didn't allow Manny to use his power as he had done in the past."
Marquez's increased power was evident. He landed a big right hand in the third round that knocked down Pacquiao with 1:10 left in the round. Pacquiao didn't appear seriously hurt, but it was clear he was in for a very tough fight.
"The first knockdown was a good shot." Pacquiao said. "But I was able to come back and take control of the fight."
Pacquiao returned the favor in the fifth round as he stunned Marquez with a straight left that had Marquez on the mat. But he wasn't hurt either.
When the sixth round began, judges Adalaide Byrd, Steve Weisfeld and John Keane all had Pacquiao leading by scores of 47-46. Pacquiao seemed on his way to extending the lead as he was scoring with the jab and landing effective combinations to Marquez's head.
But as the final seconds were winding down, Pacquiao tried to land one more big right. He missed, and paid dearly.
Pacquiao was taken to the UMC Trauma Center as a precaution and did not attend the postfight news conference.
"I felt he was coming to knock me out for the last three rounds and I knew he was going to be wide open," Marquez said. "As soon as I saw the opening, I landed a hard right hand.
"Once I knocked him down the first time, I felt I could knock him out. We always work on that punch."
Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach was disappointed to see his fighter get so careless at such a critical point.
"Manny was in charge and he was hurting Juan Manuel," Roach said "But he got too careless."
Marquez said he knew how to defuse Pacquiao and that was to use his boxing skills - and relying on trainer Nacho Beristain's years of experience in coming up with the right game plan.
"The change in rhythm was important," Marquez said. "We knew he was going to come at us aggressive so we had a fight plan that was built on technique.
"We worked strength. We worked speed and you can see the result."
Marquez said as long as he stayed patient and didn't act recklessly, he believed he could finally get justice.
"We knew it would be a difficult fight, but not an impossible fight to win," he said.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.