By Ludwig O. Daza
The big difference between Juan Manuel “The Maestro” Marquez and Erik Morales is stamina and recuperative power; but in all aspects of the game, however, these two warriors are strikingly similar. The first and second fight with Manny Pacquiao where Marquez suffered four knockdowns but was able to salvage a draw in the first fight and a split decision in the second fight are testament to Marquez physical prowess over Erik Morales. Morales, though he got up in his last two fights with Pacquiao after getting knockdown, was unable to continue until the last round.
But the main difference between Marquez and the rest of the pugilists is his counterpunching ability. According to Bob Arum, Marquez is the best counter-puncher for the last 30 years. There are of course a lot of good counterpunchers out there, but Marquez is the most successful of them all by far, while some of them have just faded. One fighter who is highly regarded with his counterpunching ability, but now retired, is Gerry Penalosa.
Boxing pundits would find it difficult to disagree if one will claim that, as far as counterpunching skill is concerned, Penalosa is better if not equal to Juan Manuel Marquez. Penalosa’s counterpunching style is fluid in its execution as Marquez’ is effective.
Marquez’s resiliency and counterpunching remains the only blemish to Pacquiao’s distinction as a great finisher. Fighters with lesser warrior spirit never recovered when they allowed Pacman to smell their blood and their impending defeat, but the true warrior spirit and superb counterpunching of Marquez would confound Pacquiao every time. Never count The Maestro out when he is in danger because that is when his skills are displayed with ease and efficiency.
This is what Michael Katsidis discovered; he thought he’d win the fight when he knocked down Marquez with a left hook in the third round, but it was in this round where Marquez started his exquisite bodywork that slowed Katsidis. Both threw punches at a blistering pace but Marquez skills were superior as shown by connect rate at the compubox, registering more than 60 percent of punches landed as against punches thrown.
Marquez upcoming fight, a completion of the trilogy against Pacquiao, is already creating a buzz now that Pacquiao is training at the Wildcard Gym. Fans know that whenever these two protagonists fight, they will be at the edge of their seats even before the bell rings.
Can “the Maestro” beat the odds this time and confound the Pacman again?
It should be remembered that the last time Marquez was in Manila years ago, he was almost begging Manny Pacquiao for a third fight claiming that he beat Pacquiao twice, as emblazoned in his shirt, during a press-conference. That stunt probably smacks of disrespect to the fighting Congressman and the Filipino fans, but it all the more whetted the desire of the Filipino fans for a third fight to once and for all shut up Marquez.
But the main reason I think why Marquez went to Manila then is: as Pacquiao climbed up the higher weight divisions, Marquez’ chance of securing a third fights gets slimmer. So he went the extra mile of coming to the Philippines to drum up interest for a third fight – to no avail. During that time, Golden Boy, a rival of Top Rank, promotes Marquez.
Now that both are under Top Rank promotions, the completion of their trilogy is at hand. Marquez at the kick off promotion in Manila reiterated his pronouncement the last time he was in Manila: He beat the Pacman twice. It will produce, come fight time, if such is the intention, the desired effect of Filipino fans despising Marquez more and gritting their teeth with every punch thrown and landed by their ‘Pambansang Kamao’ (National Fist) because of such claim, which to them is preposterous.
I think when the great Angelo Dundee stated that Marquez will beat Pacquiao, he was just calling attention to himself. If Marquez wins, Angelo Dundee becomes relevant again in the boxing world by predicting an outcome that is highly improbable, considering that too much is at stake in this fight that Pacquiao would never enter the ring unprepared, which is the only way Marquez can win. And Pacquiao never entered the ring unprepared since his last defeat in the hands of Erik Morales. He is just too strong for Marquez in this welterweight fight. It’s just inconceivable, with his last three fights considered, all against big strong oppositions in the likes of Clottey, Margarito, and Mosley, that Pacquiao would lose.
Marquez wouldn’t stand a chance against any of the fighters mentioned, and Pacquiao annihilated them all in machine-like fashion.
A Filipino compatriot in the person of Nonito Donaire, also a pound for pound fighter, predicted that Marquez won’t last the distance. Methinks that Pacquiao will put the hammer down in the later rounds, though he can take him in the early rounds, after he had inflicted in Marquez a pummeling similar to what he did to Antonio Margarito – just so Marquez is reminded of his rightful place.
Win or lose, The Maestro will again demonstrate his counter-punching skills for all the boxing world to see, and what could be more fitting to end his pugilistic days than fighting Manny Pacquaio, his archenemy. Marquez, having secured the Manny Pacquaio fight, some say the Manny Paccquiao sweepstakes, will surely enter the ring with guns blazing, and you can take that to the bank.
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