By John F. McKennawo (McJack)
The long anticipated fight between WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KO’s) and WBO/WBA lighweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KO’s) is now down to the wire. Pacquiao and Marquez will square off Saturday night at the MGM Grand Arena for the 3rd time in their Trilogy.
In order to make a reasonable prediction it is a prerequisite to review what transpired in their 1st two encounters. In 2004 “Pacman” and Marquez fought at 126 pounds to a controversial draw. Marquez had been down 3 times in the 1st round, but came back in the later rounds to make the fight very competitive. The fight was made controversial when one of the judges acknowledged after the fight that he had made an error in tabulating his score card. The error cost Manny the fight.
The second fight in 2008 was fought at 130 pounds. That fight two also ended in controversy when Pacquiao was awarded a razor thin decision win. Many boxing observers thought that “El Dinamita” earned a decision win in that fight, even though Marquez was again floored. Marquez believes he was robbed of victory in both fights.
Immediately after the 2008 fight Marquez began his campaign for a 3rd match against Pacquiao. In the aftermath of the 2008 fight Manny stepped up in class on June 28, 2008 to take David Diaz’s WBC lightweight crown. Pacquiao stepped up yet again on December 6, 2008 to destroy Oscar De La Hoya who retired on his stool after the 8th round. “Pacman” then went back down to 140 pounds to knock out Ricky Hatton in the 2nd round on May 2, 2009.
The victories over De La Hoya and Hatton fully established Pacquiao as a superstar in boxing. Manny took his explosive speed and power with him up to the higher weight classes. Marquez has yet to demonstrate that he can compete effectively above 135 pounds. In fact his trainer Nacho Beristain in the past has urged “El Dinamita” not to fight above 135 pounds. When Marquez fought Floyd Mayweather in 2009 at a catch-weight of 144 pounds he appeared bloated and put in a sub par performance. For that reason boxing observers give him little chance against Pacquiao who has demonstrated that he fights well at welterweight.
In the lead up to his fight with Pacquiao, Marquez hired strength and conditioning coach Angel Hernandez in the hopes that through proper diet, training and conditioning he would be better able to handle the 144 pound catch-weight in force. At best it is a gamble, because it is not known how Marquez will perform at the higher weight. True, Marquez has packed on muscle and looks cut at the new weight. But as Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza noted, muscle does not win fights. Shane Mosley looked ripped prior to his fight with Pacquiao last May. Once Shane tasted the power of Pacquiao’s punches however, he went into survival mode and began looking for an exit strategy.
One thing is certain about the Aztec warrior Marquez. He will enter the ring at the MGM Grand Arena Saturday night with the firm belief that he is going to defeat Manny Pacquiao. It has been his mission ever since he lost the controversial decision to Manny in 2008. Hopefully the fight will live up to its advanced hype.
In reality though Marquez as gallant a warrior as he is, has too much to overcome to achieve his objective of victory. Pacquiao is under great self inflicted pressure to one up Mayweather’s near shutout over Marquez. Manny is more motivated for this fight than he has been for any other fight in years, perhaps even more so than for his fight with Oscar De La Hoya.
The reports coming out of the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood where Manny trains are that it will be, to coin a phrase “no more Mr. Nice Guy” for Pacquiao this time around. No more touching of gloves before and after every round as with Shane Mosley. He will focus on getting his nemesis out of there as quickly as possible. It is this writer’s belief that Pacquiao will score a one sided, irrefutable victory. As General Macarthur once said “there is no substitute for total victory.” Pacquiao’s victory over Marquez will be total this time, an “unconditional surrender” if you will. Manny will most likely stop
Marquez inside of 8 rounds in impressive fashion.