This is big fight week and the hype for the third and final encounter between all timers Manny Pacquiao 53-3-2 (38) and Juan Manuel Marquez 53-5-1 (39) is about to explode. The hook for the fight is the fact that these two have already fought two terrific fights against each other with Pacquiao officially holding the edge 1-0-1. However, depending on who you ask, Pacquiao, 32, has really defeated Marquez, 38, twice or on the other hand he’s yet to beat him once.
Many fans and writers were all over this fight before it was even signed. Yet, I never once had my interest peaked by the thought of it and now that it’s almost here, nothing’s changed. For a fight to be compelling before the fact, it has to involve two fighters where you can see a plausible way for each to win. And regardless of how close their previous two fights were, I don’t think that translates into the third one being super close or competitive. A lot has changed over the last three and a half years for Pacquiao and Marquez, with physics being at the top of the list.
What’s often been left out of the conversation regarding the outcome of this fight is, the first two bouts were fought at 126 and 130, this one will be contested at 144. Since they last fought back in March of 2008, Pacquiao is unbeaten and has compiled a record of 7-0 (4). Five of those victories have been over fully flowered welterweights and they weren’t even close, Pacquiao dominated. Since losing a split decision to Pacquiao in 2008, Marquez is 5-1 (4). So you’d figure on the surface neither boxer should hold a significant advantage over the other this time. But you’d be wrong. The only fight that really gives us any indicator where Marquez is right now and how he matches up with Pacquiao is his bout with Floyd Mayweather two years ago. And that stands out for two reasons: 1) it’s the only bout in which Marquez has ever fought weighing more than 140 pounds (142) and 2) he was totally taken apart by Mayweather and was never in the fight.
For 12 rounds Marquez looked like a boy trying to overpower a man. Even when he did manage to get through and land on Mayweather, Floyd never changed his expression or blinked. Mayweather’s size and physical strength advantage totally shut down Marquez’s terrific fundamentals and basics. Due to the simple fact Marquez wasn’t nearly strong enough to implement or apply his wealth of experience, he resembled a church mouse being toyed with by a house cat. And luckily for Marquez, Mayweather is risk averse because it sure looked as if Mayweather could’ve stopped Marquez if he wanted to.
And that’s why I think Pacquiao-Marquez III is a hard sell. Forget about who you think would win between Pacquiao and Mayweather if they ever fight. What we do know is Pacquiao punches harder than Mayweather with both hands, he throws more punches, appears to take a better punch and looks to attack. In addition to that, we know inside Manny wants to beat Marquez not just conclusively this time, but also in a much more spectacular and memorable fashion than Mayweather did. It’s all about style points for Pacquiao and Mayweather. It’s sort of like college football before they fight. Both (2) Alabama and (1) LSU beat Florida on back to back weekends, so the natural thing to do before this past Saturday night’s game between them was to draw comparisons against Florida. And since the scores on both games were almost identical (Alabama 38-10 & LSU 41-11), the debate as to who was better LSU or Alabama took off before the game.
Well, that’s some of what will be on Pacquiao’s mind going into the upcoming fight with Marquez. With the thought being if I can’t get Mayweather in the ring, I want to beat him in the eyes of the fans or should I say pollsters. Granted, since their last fight Pacquiao has become a little less reckless and more conventional, something that Marquez’ trainer Nacho Beristain says will aide his fighter this time. Obviously it’s easier to fight someone who’s a little more predictable than one who’s all over the place and unorthodox. But how does that change the fact that it’s hard to envision Marquez hurting Pacquiao at 144? Another thing Beristain (who I think is the best trainer in boxing) said is, his fighter will be better served because Pacquiao likes to fight and mix it up as opposed to Mayweather who fights more defensively.
I guess in the main that’s true, but Mayweather wasn’t defensive against Marquez and took his liberties with him during the fight. And luckily for Marquez, Mayweather didn’t take more because he may have been stopped. Again, I don’t see how Pacquiao’s willingness to rumble is an advantage for Marquez. In fact I think it’s the opposite. The fact that Manny will really try and impose himself physically over Marquez is the reason why I don’t give Juan much of a chance to come out on top. As great as Marquez is as a counter-puncher and at setting traps, once Pacquiao starts opening up and carrying the fight, what can Marquez do other than fight for his life and try to hold him off?
When all is said and done, Pacquiao has a monumental advantage fighting Marquez at 144. So much so that it really makes it hard to foresee anything but a one sided beatdown starting somewhere by the midpoint of the fight. And those style points Manny’s fighting for will be a factor in him not showing Marquez any mercy the way Mayweather did. On paper, Pacquiao-Marquez III looks like a dream fight, but the scale will ruin the dream.
At this stage of the game Pacquiao is too big and strong for Marquez. Pacquiao-Marquez III is a hard sell because it’s nearly impossible to build a case for Marquez winning. The only glimmer of hope for Marquez is if Manny has taken his training too lightly or been too distracted elsewhere. But that’s not his MO, is it?