For the fourth and final time in their careers, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are going to face each other in the ring, with different goals in mind. Pacquiao might want to finally get a decisive win in this rivalry, but is also thinking about the future, and fighting Floyd Mayweather. Marquez just wants to come out as the winner in this one for once.
The arguments over who really won the previous fight (November 12, 2011) will go on forever. Marquez still claims he deserves a win in at least one of the three previous fights (Draw, two Pac-Man wins) and obviously the crowd, that will be in his favor, will be giving off that kind of vibe as well, but the numbers say differently. Judges don’t always make calls by the numbers, just ask Pacquiao after his Bradley fight, but the match clearly shows that Pacquiao connected with more punches and power punches. Marquez just made him look bad.
And that’s the key for Manny, who hasn’t looked convincing in quite some time. He hasn’t won with a knockout since his 2009 win over Miguel Cotto. He did beat up Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley after that, with the Margarito fight especially brutal for the Mexican, but there’s been a lot of talk about him losing his killer instinct.
Another thing that has probably been bothering him in his last two fights was his leg conditioning, suffering from cramps late in his last fight. His last rounds probably won him the fight against Marquez after struggling to give himself the kind of push and incentive that was needed to win. He was frustrated by Marquez’ perfect defensive plan: Never go forward, step on Manny’s foot (not accidental, despite what some may say) and cut off that left jab.
It was that left jab that gave him so much trouble during their first two fights, especially the first one. Marquez has added on some beef on his body, which will probably make him slower, but the plans remains the same. It’s wrong to come at Manny Pacquiao, because he’s simply too fast for anyone he faces. Marquez has two modes: Lineal moves backwards/forwards or to the side. He’ll just keep moving left to stop Pacquiao’s left shots.
This is what Manny should have been working on. Creating angles that will be a surprise. He must get Marquez to open up just a bit to impress. Marquez is all about counter-punching, although he’s probably hoping to show some surprises of his own. In any case, it’ll be about Pacquiao mostly trying to figure out how to find a way inside. His conditioning and ability to pile on the pressure without fading away near the end is imperative. Not being aggressive enough, especially in the final rounds, might cost him another win. You never know how ringside judges are going to call the fight, because they see things a bit differently sometimes.
The gates numbers are already in: The fight is sold out, bringing in another $10.5 million. The PPV numbers for the previous fight were around 1.4 million buyers. This is as much about money as it is about proving relativity or revenge. Marquez, 39, might not be around to fight much longer. A win over a rival he could never beat might be a perfect way to go. Pacquiao, who probably is hanging around only to get to Mayweather, needs to focus on the now, and not the improbable future, if he wants to avoid a second straight defeat.