|Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV - An Overkill?
SecondsOut special to Doghouse Boxing (Nov 4, 2012)
By Matthew Hurley. When the announcement came that Manny Pacquiao will
square off against Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time there was
certainly a sense of been there, done that. Despite the skill level,
excitement and controversy the first three bouts provided you almost get
the feeling that these two evenly matched fighters are tired of seeing
the other in the opposite corner. But because of the rabid fan base
both boxers enjoy and the money involved, December 8th
at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas will be deja vu all over again.
Fans of Marquez were probably laughing in their
beer last June when Pacquiao lost by controversial decision to Timothy
Bradley, ending a fifteen bout winning streak. Karma came back to bite
the Pac Man if one believes, as a significant portion of boxing fans do,
that Marquez should have been awarded the decision in at least two of
their fights, if not all three. Losing to Bradley on points when it
appeared he was way ahead also seemed to reinvigorate a disillusioned
Marquez who hinted at retirement after dropping a close decision to
Manny in their third go round.
“What do I have to do?” he lamented in his
dressing room after the loss. His demeanor was one of a man weary of a
sport that had yet again failed to reward him with the ultimate prize
after he had given everything he had until there was nothing left.
Despite the close nature of the contest, Marquez
truly believes he won going away and that Pacquiao has gotten the
benefit of the doubt from the judges in every close round they’ve
battled through. It’s a feeling that has grown like a persistent weed
over thirty-six rounds of combat and fostered resentment toward his more
famous foe. Whether he truly dislikes Pacquiao or just can’t abide his
iconic status is unclear, but it has altered his mindset for their
“I have to knock him out to win,” the counter punching master now claims.
He understands that to leave his destiny in the
hands of the judges yet again, in Las Vegas of all places, could lead to
further heartache. Down by a draw and two losses in the series so far,
another decision going the other way would define his career whether
warranted or not. Those losses in the record book are a constant source
of irritation and they have led him and his trainer Nacho Beristain to
the decision that he must go for the knockout in order to erase the
memory of those disappointments.
But if Marquez approaches fight four with that
narrow-minded strategic plan he could play right into Pacquiao’s
strengths and find himself hitting the canvas for a fifth time. For, at
least in the knockdown category, Manny is way ahead.
For Pacquiao the disputed loss to Bradley hasn’t
affected his lofty standing in the least. The vast majority of the
press and fans were incredulous at the split decision that went against
him but Manny’s shoulder shrug response to it all only enhanced his good
guy image. He simply went back to the Philippines to resume his
political career and plan ahead for his next fight.
The main thing, in regards to Pacquiao, that has
truly frustrated those in the boxing world is why a super fight between
he and Floyd Mayweather Jr. continues to wither on the vine. For that,
both fighters have lost respect because if they wanted the fight to be
made the sport’s two biggest stars would tell their promoters to either
get it done or they would do it themselves. Couple that with the
astronomical paydays they would receive and fans, many of whom continue
to struggle in a fledgling economy, have grown tired of what they
perceive as two pampered athletes who just don’t get it anymore. Their
struggle to the top is basically over and financial security is of no
concern. Meanwhile many of those who cheered them on from the very
beginning can’t even afford the overpriced pay-per-views being offered
in the mega-fight’s stead.
Shame on the both of them.
So, with a Mayweather fight still out of reach, a
rematch with Bradley apparently of no interest to him and a misguided
return bout with former knockout victim Miguel Cotto an unreasonable
proposition, Pacquiao turned yet again to Marquez. A fighter his
trainer Freddie Roach openly admits is a puzzle they just can’t seem to
But Pacquiao maintains he chose Marquez because of
the sentiments of many who believe the Mexican fighter should be up
2-0-1 and because the two make for compelling competition.
“I chose to fight Marquez because we have exciting fights,” he said at the initial press conference announcing bout four.
Later, on ESPN SportsCenter he slipped a verbal
dagger into Bradley saying, “I have nothing to prove against Bradley. I
proved it already. It was a one-sided fight and I won the fight.”
As for Marquez he added, “I need to make this
fight short to get rid of the doubt. He’s claiming that he won the
fights and I want to rid the doubt.”
So there it is. It is not the fight most boxing
fans and the sporting world were hoping for but the history these two
share should provide for both technical brilliance and flashes of
explosive action. And with both fighters slowed by age and wear and
tear perhaps we will get a conclusive ending to this heated rivalry.
One can only hope. For another controversial
decision will only further fan disgruntlement and the notion that boxing
can just never get it right.
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