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PacquiaoMarquezIII Hogan 35Manny Pacquiao will be looking to restore faith and erase any doubts surrounding his last outing with Timothy Bradley, and more importantly, his trilogy with Juan Manuel Marquez, when he faces the Mexican for a fourth time on December 8th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Controversially, their first meeting resulted in a draw, with Pacquiao later claiming two contentious points wins over Marquez in follow up bouts courtesy of a split and majority decision. This time, Pacquiao has vowed to put an end to the rivalry once and for all, insisting the judges will be taken out of the equation.

“I want to be the other Manny Pacquiao, like when I was 24, 25 years old. I want people who watch this fight to be satisfied. I want to make this fight short. I want to knock him out”.

For this fight then, or so it seems,Pacquiao will be looking to reinstate some of the relentlessness that terrorized the featherweight divisions. Freddie Roach enhanced the notion.

“Technically, we can't outbox this guy, so we have to outfight him…I don't want the nice Manny Pacquiao, touching gloves with the other guy and everything. That drives me crazy. You can't be friends out there.”

Reading between the lines, then, it seems Roach and Pacquiao are referring to the three knockdowns that occurred during the very first round in fight one with Marquez –which happened to be Pacquiao's most deliberate and aggressive showing to date against him– and are possibly thinking that's something they need to recapture. A far more aggressive Manny Pacquiao.

This, I believe, would be a mistake on their part.

What is often overlooked when dissecting Pacquiao and Marquez, is the fact that their fights haven't always been razor close, at least not from a round to round basis. Ironically, the fight that saw the biggest disparity between them, was actually the only time when both fighters were deemed to be the equal of each other by the judges. It was also the fight in which Marquez was hurt the most by Pacquiao. Regardless of how the score cards read in the first fight, Marquez managed to weather the early storm and was more dominant across eleven rounds in that fight, than he was at any stage in any of the following two fights against Pacquiao. If not for those three early knockdowns in the opening round, Pacquiao, struggling to fathom a way around Marquez's superior ring intelligence, would have lost the first meeting by a very wide margin. If you remember correctly, what transpired during those eleven rounds {Pacquiao's predictable one handed attacks continually blunted by Marquez's movement and sharp counters} was the reason why Roach decided to broaden Pacquiao's stylistic horizons in the first place.

There's no doubting the fact that Pacquiao seemed to have a hunger back then that's missing now, but to pursuit a marksman like Marquez without abandon, looking for a knockout like he did in the first fight, would surely be a step backwards for Pacquiao. The last time they met was the only occasion in three fights that Pacquiao has failed to either hurt or drop Marquez, but it was probably Pacquiao's most complete –offensive and defensive– performance against Marquez. And yet, Pacquiao and Roach seem to be placing more emphasis on Pacquiao being more aggressive like he was in the first fight. Marquez, who thrives on aggression {see Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis} has already proved that he can't be physically overwhelmed by Pacquiao, regardless of the weight class they fight in. Going further, I believe the more aggressive Pacquiao becomes, the more chance that Marquez, and not Pacquiao, will have of definitively putting an end to their saga. Pacquiao has already underestimated Marquez once, he can't allow himself to do the same again.

Over the course of three fights,no fighter has been able to test Pacquiao the way Marquez has, using his superior craft and timing to negate Pacquiao's greater physicalities of speed and power. And yet, apart from rounds two through twelve in their first meeting, Marquez has never really beaten Pacquiao beyond any doubt. Pacquiao's more aggressive style seems to translate better on the score cards with the judges. As his 2-0-1 record against Marquez suggests, you could argue that Marquez does a terriffic job of taming and disrupting Pacquiao with his patience and waiting game tactics, but falls just short of conclusively bettering him because of Pacquiao's superior work rate and foward momentum.

Because both fighters will likely do what they're most comfortable with against each other, which is for Marquez to wait and react, and for Pacquiao to pursuit and ambush, I think we're going to see more of fights two and three, rather than fight one, which ultimately means more of the same. However, if both fighters decide to go against the grain, then logic, which tells us we're going to get another closely contested fight on December 8th, could be thrown out the window.

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