Having similar sentiments to that of many other individual’s, it was initially quite disconcerting upon hearing the news that Filipino Icon and pound-for-pound prizefighter Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KO’s) of General Santos City, Philippines would choose to get it on for a fourth time with Mexican ring technician and arch rival Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO’s) of Mexico City, Mexico.
Instead of Pacquiao rather attempting to avenge his recent controversial loss to Timothy Bradley so as to regain his former WBO welterweight title, or better yet somehow come to terms with the difficult to compromise with Floyd Mayweather Jr. to finally give fight fans what they’ve yearned for, although that potential bout has certainly lost its former luster, we somehow feel burdened with yet another meeting between these two combatants in a bout many find it difficult to get excited about.
But like those same uninspired individuals, as fight night approaches I can’t help but think how riveting this fourth contest could be, perhaps surpassing that of their three previous nip and tuck battles which have been fought on a level that has caused many an anticipated match up to pale in comparison.
The action during this rivalry has simply been so intense that each punch seemingly sways the bout in favor of one or the other contestant. That’s real drama of which fight fans can expect more of the same when the bell rings for round 37 inside Las Vegas, Nevada’s MGM Grand this weekend.
And despite there being no title on the line for the first time after engaging in a trilogy that has spanned more than seven years, it’s evident that these two vastly skilled prizefighters remain highly competitive amongst one another. So much so that a disgruntled Marquez, who feels he’s been robbed of victory in each of their past engagements, says he’s pretty much since their last bout in November of 2011 been in training specifically to face his nemesis.
“We’re working on what we started a year ago for my last fight against the Filipino. We’re working on building power and speed, a lot of changes in my rhythm. We’re trying different strategies that I think will be important in the fight,” stated a determined “Dinamita” Marquez.
On the other side of the equation we have Manny Pacquiao, who himself feeling he’s deserving of the nod in all three bouts, is quite disdainful of the fact that Marquez refuses to accept defeat. As a result, “Pacman’s” on a mission to clear the air by attempting to register the oh so definitive knockout, of which if one were to believe the training reports, he’s primed to achieve just such an end.
“My focus is more aggressiveness,” to “throw a lot of combinations. And if I get the chance to finish the fight, why not?” said Pacquiao.
In retrospect, and considering that this fourth go-round will in many ways resemble the epic trilogy that has already taken place, I find it insightful to touch upon the past so as to perhaps gain a glimpse of what is likely to go down Saturday night, at least from a from a technical standpoint.
It appears evident that after the opening salvo way back in May of 2004, and we are talking about round 1 of their initial encounter where the Mexican fighter was put on the seat of his pants thrice, outside of the “Pacman” having no more than momentary success in that bout, it was mainly the Juan Manuel Marquez show.
“Dinamita” after clearing his head simply nullified Pacquiao’s jab with an extended left hand, to then make the aggressive lunging Filipino miss, whereas Marquez would connect with the more varied, visibly appealing and solidly landed counter shots. He simply ran the “Pacman” into the blows that mattered in by far the majority of rounds so that rather than appearing as a draw as had been determined by the judges scoring, Juan Manuel should have been declared the victor.
In their second confrontation, I had a better balanced, more refined right hand educated Pacquiao winning 7-5 in rounds, while a knockdown in the third frame amounting to a 10-8 score pretty much sealed the deal for one of the planet’s best fighters. Manny clearly out-boxed his opponent in the latter half of that bout due primarily to the effective use of his jab, which when landed, set up his thumping straight left hand.
The third collision between these two, yet another that would go the distance, would assume nearly the same pattern as the first bout, with Marquez once again landing the more solid and visibly appealing counter shots as opposed to that of his counterpart, who although landing flush on occasion, for the most part only managed to connect with glancing blows. Nevertheless, Manny Pacquiao’s work rate was more pronounced, making the bout so close that a draw or a two point swing in either direction was acceptable.
With that said, Juan Manuel was allowed to cruise during portions of bout number three, which in essence signified that quite possibly Manny Pacquiao wasn’t altogether his usual fiery self, so that many would attribute a perhaps less than focused effort to distractions outside the ring. Those distractions would range from gambling to boozing, as well as cockfighting, to ultimately lead to skirt chasing, the latter of which infidelities would reportedly result in Manny’s wife Jinkee contemplating divorce proceedings.
But now that the “Pacman” has supposedly put his life back in order according to his faith, he’s expected to be in top form once again, as he will attempt to set a much faster pace from the first bell onwards, something he feels will be to his advantage over the aging Marquez who he believes has lost a step.
Whether Marquez has lost a step or not is uncertain. What is certain is that Manny Pacquiao will have to be at his best, as waiting in the wings is the man most familiar with him, and the man who has represented his most formidable opposition throughout his career. Juan Manuel is nothing less than a precision type athlete who since his last loss has had the Filipino on his radar and not much else. With superb timing and technical skills like no other, “Dinamita” has given Manny Pacquiao fits, so that if on top of his game come Saturday night, fight fans can expect fireworks all the same.
And whereas I usually lean one way or the other in picking a winner, I’m pretty much stifled here due to the back and forth close knit nature of their previous engagements. What I can say with complete confidence is that those fight fans who are willing to shell out the Pay Per View asking price will truly be the winners.
And for those who choose to pass on what very well could be the epilogue to this dramatic saga, claiming they’ve seen enough, they are likely going to miss out on perhaps the most heated of contests yet, as each man after three riveting bouts is determined to put an exclamation point on their upcoming performance.
Who indeed will reach victory number 55 first? Will Pacquiao obtain knockout number 39 so as to pull even with Marquez in that department, or will Juan Manuel clearly define himself with the performance of a lifetime to in the judges eyes finally get his just due?
Stated Pacquiao, “I want to [erase] the doubt in the minds of the fans. I want to show the old Manny Pacquiao when I was 24 or 25 years old, the hungry Manny Pacquiao fighting in the ring.”
Juan Manuel Marquez would counter, “I want to prove who is better, and I want the referee to raise my hand. I’m training very hard for December 8th. I’ll be ready to fight and I’ll be ready to win again. I didn’t like the judges decision because everyone knows what happened in the last three fights.”
Pacquiao-Marquez IV, a twelve-round bout for the special WBO “Fighter of the Decade” belt, live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on HBO Pay Per View Saturday December 8th beginning at 9pm ET/6pm PT. Also making his promotional debut will be rapper 50 Cent, as he brings undefeated potential superstar Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KO’s) of Guantanamo, Cuba back to the ring as the night's co-main event to face Metro Manila, Philippines fighter Michael Farenas (34-3-4, 26 KO’s) for the interim WBA super featherweight title.
In addition, to appear in a twelve-round IBF lightweight title fight, defending champion Miguel “Titere” Vazquez (32-3, 13 KO’s) of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico will take on Filipino born challenger Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (26-0-1, 14 KO’s) fighting out of San Diego, California, while undefeated featherweights Javier Fortuna (20-0, 15 KO’s) and Patrick Hyland (27-0, 12 KO’s) lock horns in a battle for the interim WBA World featherweight title. Don’t miss the action.