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Pacquiao and Marquez Stand Up for Boxing

BY Rick Folstad ON May 03, 2004
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The heavyweight division has become boxing's newest comedy show, a long run of sight gags and surprise endings where you never know who the hero is.

It's too bad. The heavies used run the fight game and pretty much dominated it. That's just the way it was back then. The Yankees ruled baseball and the heavyweights ran boxing. If you had a great heavyweight champ, you had a healthy fight game. If you didn't have a great champ, few people cared how the rest of the sport was doing.

But then the division hit another one of those slumps and fell into hard times, and now the rest of boxing is doing its best to get along without the heavyweights.

That's why the fight game needs tough guys like featherweight contender Manny Pacquiao (38-2-1, 29 KOs) and IBF/WBA featherweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez (42-2-0, 33 KOs).

Right now, they are two of only a handful of guys on the planet who can help keep the game alive.

If you want to see a real fistfight, tune in to Saturday's little war between Pacquiao and Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (HBO). Unless someone spikes the punch, bribes the ref or sneaks in an imposter, this won't be a fight as much as a back-alley brawl between two guys who have gone to war before and won. It should be the kind of action-adventure encounter you usually see only in the movies with a lot of special effects.

Pacquiao, a native of the Philippines, got this fight after beating Marco Antonio Barrera on Nov. 15 in San Antonio.

Barrera was supposed to win that night. After all, he was the legend and the big name, the pound-for-pound contender. Pacquiao was just a former super-bantamweight champ moving up in weight and getting in over his head.

But somehow, Manny didn't get the message about favorites and local heroes and losing when you're supposed to. He didn't just beat Barrera, he dominated him, stopped him in the 11th round and made the boxing world suddenly sit up and start taking notes, asking questions about who Manny was, where he was from and how you pronounced his last name.

The Las Vegas bookies have him favored against the champ.

As for Marquez, you don't hold two world belts if you can't fight more than a little. He seems to be the forgotten guy in this fight, and that's always dangerous. Most champions don't like to ride second class. Besides, he's from Mexico City, and that alone is worth a few good rounds.

What you have in this fight is an aggressive southpaw who comes right at you (Manny), and a world beater who likes to throw a dangerous right hand and end things early when he's not counter-punching.

If styles make fights, promise yourself to tape this one.

Still, the best thing about this fight is that there are no heavyweights involved. You don't have to worry about any foolish surprises.

These guys have nothing to hide.

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