The fourth installment of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez rivalry amazed and shocked a lot of boxing fans and followers of the sport. The fight was looking like it was going to go in Pacquiao's favor as he seemed only a few punches away from stopping Marquez when a huge right hand in the final seconds of round 6 caught him, and knocked him out unconscious. While most were surprised by the result, boxing trainer Naazim Richardson was not.
Recently through my boxing radio show "ON THE ROPES" I had a chance to speak with Naazim Richardson and discuss the future of Manny Pacquiao. Naazim, who currently trains boxing legend Bernard Hopkins, talked about the difficult path Pacquiao has in front of him. He gave his thoughts on the upcoming Brandon Rios fight, how he sees Pacquiao coming back from the loss, and whether or not we should see a fifth fight between Marquez and Pacquiao. Here is what Naazim had to say.
Jenna: Naazim, Manny Pacquiao is set to return in November against Brandon Rios, how do you expect him to comeback for that devastating KO loss to Marquez?
Naazim: It’d be so unfair for me to be the guy to answer that question, and I’ll tell you why. Because the way my mindset is with it as far as Pacquiao. Freddie Roach is closer to the situation, he can see it, he can see what Pacquiao has to give and what he can offer and what’s left. Me myself, I have an athlete of the magnitude of Manny Pacquiao, and like I always tell Bernard, ‘You’ve done everything in boxing except lose badly.’ Well Manny Pacquiao has done everything in boxing, and when that’s the case I have to ask, Manny Pacquiao coming back? Why? To do what? And now I’ll hit u back with a question, cuz you know boxing good enough, what can Manny Pacquiao do now for us to excite us? Is Manny Pacquiao gonna do something that’s gonna make you say “Wow, that’s more exciting than when he beat Cotto, that’s more exciting than when he beat Ricky Hatton” What? Will he win another title? The only thing he hasn’t done is get disqualified in boxing.
Jenna: I think there is only one thing left for Pacquiao to do at this point, and it's the only thing he has yet to do. Knock out Juan Manuel Marquez. Getting that that definitive win is the only accomplishment left for him.
Naazim: Here’s my thing, if he beat Brandon Rios, that would impress you? Pacquiao beating Rios after Mike Alvarado has beaten Brandon Rios, it would impress you? Now I’m not disrespecting Mike Alvarado, but on a scale of where we level the greatness in champions, not too many people are gonna mark Mike Alvarado as great, and he’s already beaten Brandon Rios. So for Pacquiao to come back and beat Rios, it’s no great shocker. Now the other thing you said was him knocking out Marquez. Now let me ask you from another standpoint of a boxer, if you manage, train or have anything to do with Juan Manuel Marquez, why do you fight Manny Pacquiao again? What is your purpose? I once went up to Buster Douglas and asked him about something and he said when he knocked out Mike Tyson he wanted to retire from boxing. He said “What else can I do? I beat mike Tyson, I can’t even go back and beat him again, I knocked him out.” There was nothing else to do in boxing. He wasn’t going to be motivated to do anything else, anything else he would do would be a step down from knocking out Mike Tyson. Nothing else would have matched up. So for Marquez, do you think you can go up to him and he’d be convinced he could out do that performance?
Jenna: Money. If you offer any fighter enough of it, they will return for a another fight even if it was a definitive win. Evander Holyfield dominated Mike Tyson and stopped him, yet he still took 30 million dollars for a rematch. It don't matter how great of a win you had, or if you believe you can match the same performance, if you get enough money you will find yourself drawn into another big fight.
Naazim: Evander Holyfield beat Mike Tyson up, but he didn’t lay him out like Pacquiao got laid out. You are asking me a real question here, when have you seen a man get knocked out like that and went and fought em again….you might have been able to convince Bernard Hopkins to fight Trinidad again for more money even when he beat him up and knocked him out. But when you knock a dude out with a single shot, the dollars you’re gonna have to put before these guys, I’m not sure you will be able to sell that fight to the public. There’s a lot of people out there like me who feel Marquez won every single fight they’ve fought already. So for me, if Marquez and Pacquiao fight again, if I have anything else to do that day, and I mean anything, if I have to help a friend paint his house, if I have to help my buddy drive his kids to Atlantic City, anything else I have to do that day, I’ll do. It ain’t a fight I need to see. I’ve seen Marquez beat Pacquaio 4 times, I’ve seen him win once by knock out. I always thought Marquez was a better fighter than Pacquiao, I thought Pacquiao was a better athlete.
Jenna: Do you think it's possible that Marquez could actually lose a fifth fight because of the fact he finally got a win against Pacquiao and he knows he can't top what he did in the ring last time?
Naazim: I think if he fought a fifth time, there’s a great chance of him actually losing, cuz there’s no way you get up for it. We have electric moments that happen in sports, you can’t duplicate those moments, those moments come if all the variables are in place. We’ve seen when people have tried to come behind those moments, we’ve seen when Hearns and Leonard started to come behind those moments and tried to do those fights again, they never match up. Yes someone might become a little richer but they never match up. Marquez may not fight him again, yeah money can change it, but Marquez looks like he has no interest in fighting Pacquiao again.
Jenna: Personally, I don't want to see a fifth fight. At this point I don't think it's good for either fighter’s health and honestly I don't think they could ever top what happened in the last bout.
Naazim: Yeah that’s my thing, to me, I’ve asked this a lot of times in the gym to young fighters, I said, would you rather have the draw and the two wins that Pacquiao has or would you rather have the one win that Marquez has? And most people said to me they rather have that one Marquez win, especially when it came, in the last fight. It almost erased the other fights.
**special thanks goes out to my friend Ruben for his help bring this interview to boxing readers.