By John F.McKenna (McJack)
When WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KO’s) steps into the ring Saturday night to face WBO/WBA lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KO’s) will the fight live up to its advanced billing?
Pacquiao and Marquez will be fighting for the 3rd time at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. In their first encounter in 2004 fought at 126 pounds “Pacman” and “El Dinamita” battled to a controversial draw. Marquez was knocked down three times in the 1st round but clawed his way back to make it a competitive fight. The fight was made controversial when it was revealed that one of the judges incorrectly tabulated his scorecard which deprived Pacquiao of victory.
The 2nd fight was at 130 pounds in 2008 and also had a controversial ending. Pacquiao won by a razor thin decision after again flooring Marquez. Many in attendance thought Marquez did enough after he was knocked down to win the fight. Both matches were barn burners and brought the best out in both fighters.
Boxing fans are hoping that Marquez at 38 still has enough left in the tank to make the 3rd fight of the Pacquiao – Marquez Trilogy an entertaining one. Many boxing observers feel as though Marquez at any age has Pacquiao’s number. Marquez is an intelligent fighter who has the ability to adapt and adjust to his opponents. In his 2nd fight wth Pacquiao, Marquez used the knowledge he gained from their 1st fight to make “Pacman” pay for his mistakes.
After their 2008 bout “Pacman” added pounds by packing on muscle, while working with strength and conditioning coach, Alex Ariza. He now fights comfortably at around 145 pounds. Manny’s added weight did not slow him down as he still has the explosive speed and power he had at the lighter weights. In addition Pacquaio now uses both hands effectively in his attack and his footwork has improved markedly. The angles Manny uses while raining punches on his opponents makes it difficult at times to see where his punches are coming from. That is the crux of the problem. How do you defend against what you can’t see coming?
The Marquez camp decided to hire their own strength and conditioning coach, Angel Hernandez, AKA Angel Heredia to help “El Dinamita” put on the added weight needed to compete on an equal footing with Pacquiao. When Marquez fought Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2009 he looked pudgy when he put on the added weight. The fight turned out to be a disaster with Marquez losing virtually every round.
Since training with Hernandez, Marquez has put on what appears to be solid muscle. As Alex Ariza points out however, the body of any fighter needs to adjust to muscle growth over time in order for it to be effective.
As the situation now stands Marquez is in the “no mans land” of not knowing what will happen when he steps into the ring against Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night. There is no way of knowing how his body will respond to the added weight or how his endurance will be impacted. In essence Marquez is in the unenviable position that his baptism of fire will occur against perhaps the greatest fighter of our time Manny Pacquiao.
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