IF you see another thousand fights, you may never witness a recovery as extraordinary as Juan Manuel Marquez’s against Manny Pacquiao on this day (May 8) at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas back in 2004.

In the first fight of their bitterly contested rivalry, Marquez (then WBA and IBF featherweight champion) fought back remarkably against a renowned finisher in Pacquiao to earn a draw after 12 spirited and wildly exciting rounds.

Not only did Marquez survive that hellish opening three minutes, but it looked to many as if he’d won the fight.

“I went in there overconfident and he caught me,” admitted Mexico City’s Marquez. “I was disoriented after the first round, but once I got over that I thought I controlled the fight.”

Watching two men of such high standard battle with such heart and soul only for there to be no winner can leave one feeling a little empty, as though all the effort and pain was for nothing.

“I thought I won and I didn’t think it was close,” Pacquiao said. “I thought I took his fight away from him. If they want a rematch, no problem.”

But on reflection it was probably a fair and profitable result.

In the co-feature 23-year-old Miguel Cotto came through the toughest test of his burgeoning career with a unanimous decision over the teak-tough South African Lovemore N’Dou.

“He was a tough guy. He has a lot of experience,” said Puerto Rico’s Cotto. “It was a tough fight but these are the kind of opponents I need.”