Manny's legacy is secure, while Marquez can lift his immensely with a clean win tonight. (Chris Farina-Top Rank)
Pacquiao vs. Marquez, for the fourth time, is must see tonight. Yes, there are a few fights out there in professional boxing that are must see and tonight one of them takes place between two certified greats and legends, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Make no mistake about it, these two fighters are great, they've fought every top fighter of their era more than once and they bring it every night.
The Ring record book says that the soon-to-be 34 year-old Pacquiao has come out on top, barely, in two of the three meetings between them and one was scored a draw. So officially, Pacquiao is up 2-0-1. The problem is and it's great for boxing fans, the 39 year-old Marquez doesn't believe in his heart that he's lost once to Pacquiao.
The series between Pacquiao and Marquez will surely go down as one of the all time great rivalries in fistic history, alongside Ali-Frazier, Zale-Graziano, Duran-DeJesus and Tunney-Greb. The problem for Marquez is that as great as he's fought during the 36 rounds he's been in the ring with Pacquiao, other than money he doesn't have anything to show for his gallant effort. That's why tonight's fight is huge for Marquez and his legacy.
Marquez knows that if he can somehow defeat Pacquiao tonight in a non-controversial fashion, fans and historians will revisit their previous three fights and look at them differently. I suspect because all three fights were so close, especially the first two, that the sentiment will shift to Marquez and the thought will be that he did in fact get the better of Pacquiao, as opposed to how most see it today, viewing Pacquiao as the one who holds the upper hand. A win by Marquez changes his entire legacy whereas another close loss doesn't affect it at all, because as of this time Pacquiao is wildly viewed as holding the nod.
If you think about how great these two fighters are and how their careers have almost mirrored each other it's mind boggling. Pacquiao has fought 60 times as a pro and Marquez has fought 61 times as a pro and they both have notched 54 victories. Pacquiao has lost four times and Marquez has six times. However, if you flip the two losses Marquez suffered against Pacquiao, which isn't a reach by any means, then it is Manny with six losses and Marquez with four. And remember, Marquez has already fought Mayweather and Pacquiao hasn't. What if that were reversed? The way I see it Pacquiao would have another loss on his record if he faced Mayweather like Marquez has.
Professional boxing isn't littered with great fighters the way it once was. And although it's starting to happen more than it has, the best fighters for some reason usually don't face each other that often -- which is something that cannot be said about Pacquiao and Marquez. The fights between them have been tremendous to watch from a technical skill vantage- point, they've been action packed and there's been some memorable exchanges during the scraps and they all took place during a time when both fighters were relevant, as is the case today. And best of all there hasn't been much to choose between them...and it's not a reach to say that both could be seen as being win-less or undefeated in the series.
Boxing fans should relish that tonight they get to see these two legends and all-time greats in the ring together once again in another match where the stakes couldn't be higher. If you're a big boxing fan and relish seeing world class fighters face each other with contrasting styles, Pacquiao-Marquez one more time is must see.
For the record, I believe the first two bouts could've been scored for either fighter and that the only definitive victory in the series was scored by Marquez in their last fight. An official win by Marquez tonight will change how history views his career and his legacy will surely escalate even though it's unfair that he needs the "official" win to get the recognition he deserves.
On the other hand if Pacquiao emerges victorious they'll never fight again and the showdown with Mayweather will remain the most anticipated fight boxing can deliver in 2013. I say forget about a fight that's three years overdue. Relish Pacquiao and Marquez willingly going at it again tonight in what will no doubt be a terrific fight regardless of who wins.
Pacquiao and Marquez are real fighters and they always deliver. Enjoy these two fighters while you still have the opportunity to because neither of them will be around much longer, and it just may be the end of the road for the loser.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com