With Joe Frazier's recent passing having him in the news, I can't help but think about how styles and fight plans will play a role in this weekend's Pacquiao-Marquez III clash. Fight plans and strategies will be discussed along with what each fighter has to do to win right up until the bell for round one. And on paper, if Fighter A does what the cookbook calls for he'll come out on top. In other words, if Fighter A does this and doesn't do that, then Fighter B can't do that, which will surely result in victory for Fighter A. Now all we need to know is, who's Fighter A and who's Fighter B?
Writers and commentators always write and talk about the way to beat a particular fighter is to apply a specific tactic or style, and more often than not, their strategy is plausible. But what often gets lost in the translation is fight plans are only as good as the fighter trying to carry them out, and they're no secret to the other fighter/opponent.
During the Ali-Frazier trilogy, it was no secret to Joe or anyone else that Muhammad was gonna try to wage the fight from the outside and circle to his left. Conversely, it was also no secret that Frazier was going to try and cut the ring off and force Ali to fight with his back to the ropes or from one of the four corners of the ring. Most figured that whoever had the most success forcing the other guy to fight from his weakness would win. No doubt before all three of their epic fights Ali sought sparring partners who could best emulate Frazier, and Joe looked to work with fighters who used their legs and relied on their left jab both offensively and defensively. Sure, try finding a replica of Ali or Frazier to help you prepare for either one of them. They didn't, nor did they ever exist.
Both Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena wanted to try and force Ali to fight on the inside and with his back to the ropes, but they weren't good enough to get him there. On the flip side, Jimmy Ellis and Bob Foster wanted to box Frazier but weren't strong enough or durable enough to hold him off, and once he got inside and scored, they were slowed to a walk and cut down. So you see where the ideal fight plan only applies when the fighter trying to implement it is physically capable of doing so. What made the Ali-Frazier trilogy so compelling was, both fighters had equal success fighting their fight and as it turned out they were near equals.
It's no secret that Marquez is going to try and catch Pacquiao with lead right hands and counters, which of course Pacquiao has been preparing for. On the other hand, Marquez knows that Manny is gonna try and get him to fight and trade with him. Again, nothing that Marquez doesn't know and has no doubt tried to prepare for. So just as it is the case with all fights, it'll come down to which fighter is more capable, physically, of imposing himself on their opponent.
If Marquez's lead right hands and counters don't faze Pacquiao or disrupt his attacks, then what? And if Marquez can't disrupt Pacquiao's attacks that come in waves, he'll then be forced to fight Manny off which is exactly what he wants. Isn't it much easier to picture Floyd Mayweather blunting and disrupting Pacquiao's spurts than it is Marquez? Why is that? Mayweather, when he finally fights Pacquiao, will no doubt glean his fight plan from the same cookbook Marquez has been studying.
Obviously neither Marquez or Mayweather want to fight and trade with Pacquiao on his terms. So they both must be first and look to impede Manny's assault before he gets a head of steam. But one of them has a much greater chance of physically nullifying Pacquiao's unconventional attack, and that's Mayweather. And that's because Mayweather is physically stronger and more durable than Marquez at 144-146. It's not that Floyd's a better technician than Marquez, he just has physics on his side and that will make a big difference. Sure, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito had the physics but they lacked in the skill department and were overwhelmed by Pacquiao's skill and physicality.
Recently there have been articles written where the perfect fight plan is mapped out on what a particular fighter must do in order to beat Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and even Vitali Klitschko. However, they are written as if any pug who's won a big fight or title belt can carry the plan out as the recipe states. But that's not how boxing works in the real world. Boxing is a physical sport. Strength and durability play a big roll. Punching power is sometimes overrated, but strength and durability aren't.
Juan Manuel Marquez knows what Manny Pacquiao's vulnerabilities are and vice-versa. Marquez needs to disrupt Pacquiao's rushes and attacks, but that's not gonna be enough. In order for him to be successful doing what the cookbook calls for, he'll need to make Manny uncomfortable when he touches him, not hurt him, just enough to the point that he makes him hesitate and think ever so slightly. And to do that Marquez will need to gain Pacquio's respect when he connects, but is that realistic?
Manny has been hit by Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito recently and they couldn't slow him down. On the other hand, Marquez could barely get Mayweather's attention when he managed to get through, so what are the chances Marquez can un-nerve Pacquiao? And we saw how Cotto and Margarito looked to break off most of the exchanges when Manny cut loose. How's Marquez going to hold Manny off? From here it looks like he probably won't.
When all is said and done, Marquez and trainer Nacho Beristain no doubt have a great battle plan that the cookbook illustrates how it'll lead to victory for them. And you know what, if you can find the right fighter who is physically gifted enough to implement it during the accelerated pace of combat, we'll see Pacquiao get beat. Now all you have to do is ask yourself whether or not Marquez is physically equipped enough to follow Nacho's stellar recipe?
For Marquez to beat Pacquiao, he has to outsmart him and constantly be a step off of him. It's just that Manny will probably be too much for him physically. Therefore, the ideal recipe/fight plan stated in the cookbook will go out the window.