Doghouse Boxing Breaks Down Marquez Vs Pacquiao
Juan Angel Zurita (May 5, 2004)
In one of the year’s most anticipated matchups, Mexico clashes with the Philippines when featherweights Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao battle it out for featherweight supremacy. Marquez, the IBF/WBA Featherweight Champion, will be aiming to show the world why he’s been one of the most avoided fighters in the world for the past 5-6 years, while Pacquiao will be looking to add another world class Mexican victim to his resume. Both fighters promise to be at the top of their game for their significant encounter, as an impressive victory for either one of them will garner coveted accolades.
Fight fans and analysts alike are split as to who will rise as the victor in this compelling showdown. The debate ensues with infinite arguments on both sides. But barring a draw (which isn’t a likely outcome), one fighter will leave the arena with another defeat. Who will it be?
Profiling the Combatants
Juan Manuel Marquez Juan Manuel Marquez became known to West Coast boxing fans in the mid to late 90s as a staple of Forum Boxing shows in Los Angeles, CA. The hard-punching Mexico City native, impressed with his smooth, technical, dissecting, counter-punching style, and quickly built up a solid fan base led by Fox Sports Boxing Analyst, Rich Marotta, who lauded him as the future Featherweight Champion of the World. He quickly climbed his way up the rankings with wins over Julian Wheeler, Darryl Pickney, and Agapito Sanchez, until he finally became the WBO Featherweight #1 contender. Soon, he became known as the fighter Naseem Hamed shamelessly ducked for 22 months. Tired of waiting for a crack at The Prince, Marquez moved on and challenged another fighter no one was eager to face, WBA Featherweight Champ, tricky, slick, southpaw, Freddie Norwood. In his HBO debut, Marquez dropped a disputed decision, but failed to impress in the process.
With none of the top names itching to get into the ring with him, Marquez continued to rack up win after win against 2nd and 3rd rate opponents. Finally, four years after challenging Norwood, Marquez earned another crack at a world title and stopped five-time champion (if you count the WBO), Manuel Medina, in seven rounds using pin-point body/head combinations highlighted by vicious uppercuts. With his new IBF Featherweight strap firmly wrapped around his waist, he then targeted WBA Featherweight Champion, Derrick Gainer. The unification match looked more like a track meet than a battle between two world class fighters as Gainer refused to engage. Apparently, in the first couple of rounds, Marquez’s hard body shots convinced Gainer to surrender his belt without complaint. Although he would’ve preferred to unify the featherweight titles in a more exciting fashion, Marquez took what he could get, and thus became the unified IBF/WBA Featherweight Champion.
For Marquez, the Pacquiao fight is the type of superfight he’s been dreaming of for years. At 30 years of age, after having waited too long for an opportunity like this one, a loss would be devastating and could quite possibly mark the end of his career. Conversely, with a win, Marquez would put himself on the map, would finally receive the respect many feel he’s always deserved, and would make a strong case to the boxing public that his career has been a story of a great fighter who simply needed a big fight opportunity to showcase his remarkable talent.
Manny Pacquiao Filipino boxing idol, southpaw banger, Manny Pacquiao aka Pacman, is a three-division champion who began his ascension to superstardom as a flyweight. After only four years as a professional, Pacquiao captured the WBC Flyweight title with a scintillating 8th round KO of Thai Champion Chartchai Sasakul. He made one defense of the title before losing it at the scales prior to his bout with Thai challenger Medgoen Singsurat, and it soon became apparent that Pacquiao was in fact committing career suicide by campaigning as a flyweight, when in his weakened state, he suffered a third round KO loss to that same Thai challenger. Immediately after the loss (his second as a flyweight), he moved up 3 divisions to 122, found his niche, and began destroying every super bantamweight that crossed his path.
In his U.S. debut, Pacquiao faced IBF Super Bantamweight Champion, Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, as a late substitute on the De La Hoya/Castillejo undercard, and capitalized immensely. In astonishing fashion, he obliterated his world class opponent and caught the attention of the boxing world. Utilizing his hurricane style of high pace power punching, Pacquiao continued to impress with demolitions of former Bantamweight Champion, Jorge Eliecer Julio, and game challenger Emmanuel Lucero. Under the tutelage of 2003 Trainer of the Year, Freddie Roach, Pacquiao consistently continued to improve with each outing.
Pacquiao finally made it to the big leagues when he landed a superfight against The People’s Featherweight Champion, Mexican ring legend, Marco Antonio Barrera. Pacquiao was given almost no chance and it was thought he was being brought in as a sacrificial lamb. But Pacquiao had other plans and he stunned the boxing world by overwhelming the champ using his superior speed and power. Never had Barrera been so thoroughly outclassed. The monumental victory catapulted Pacquiao into the P4P ranks and made him a national hero in his homeland.
For Pacquiao, a victory affirms that he’s not a one-hit wonder, but rather the real deal, a great fighter coming into his own. Defeating such a high quality opponent on the cusp of having defeated a Mexican legend, will send a message to the rest of the top fighters in and around his weight class, particularly to Erik Morales, another Mexican legend whom Pacquiao would love to tackle next should he defeat Marquez. Simply put, a victory over Marquez could potentially be the beginning of something special.
Big Fight Breakdown
Boxing Skills Marquez is known for his textbook style, precision power-punching, and great counter-punching skills. He’s a true craftsmen in the ring. He likes to feel his opponents out and chop them down. Pacquiao is much different. He relies on overwhelming his opponents with a high tempo while taming them with his money punch, the straight left.
Power Both fighters are excellent punchers, but Pacquiao’s straight left is slightly more powerful than any one punch Marquez throws. However, Marquez is a more complete puncher, as he’s a more balanced two-fisted puncher, whereas Pacquiao does most of his damage with the left hand.
Defense Marquez’s selective, counter-punching style leaves minimal openings. He’s very calculating on choosing when to open up. On the other hand, Pacquiao’s aggressive seek and destroy style leaves him open to many more counters. One of Pacquiao’s flaws is that he is sometimes too aggressive and tends to overcommit to his powerful left hand. That leaves him open for a straight right over the top.
Speed A few years ago, Marquez’s speed was on par with Pacquiao’s, but at this stage in his career, he’s slowed down a bit. Pacquiao is the younger fighter and is clearly a step faster, although Marquez does boast underrated speed.
Chin Neither fighter is a stranger to the deck, but unlike Pacquiao, Marquez has never stayed there. He’s never been seriously hurt. Then again, he’s never faced a puncher like Pacquiao. Pacquiao, has been stopped twice, but the losses took place at flyweight when he was plagued by weight issues. But though he’s shown greater resistance since moving up from flyweight, Pacquiao has been hurt at 122-126. Nedal Hussein hurt and sent him to the canvas with what appeared to be a stiff jab. Last year, in his featherweight debut against unknown novice Serikzhan Yeshmangbetov, Pacquiao once again tasted the canvas compliments of a counter right hand. Pacquiao went into a shell for a good minute before clearing his head and proceeding to stop his opponent in the very next round.
Stamina - Pacquiao is younger, always in great shape, and has shown tremendous stamina since his move up from the flyweight division. The older Marquez can go 12 hard rounds, but not to the same degree as Pacquiao. Again, age plays a vital role.
Size Both fighters share the same reach, but Marquez is an inch and a half taller than Pacquiao. The stats indicate that neither will have a significant size advantage, but that could be misleading. Marquez has fought at featherweight his entire career. He’s a natural featherweight, compared to Pacquiao who began his career as a flyweight, notching two wins at 126.
Styles Many fighters struggle with southpaws because they don’t fight them too often, and Marquez is no exception, although those that troubled him were stylistic opposites of Pacquiao. Pacquiao isn’t a cutie who is there to stink up the show nor a threat to compete in the mile run. Still, Pacquiao’s southpaw stance adds an unknown element to the equation, and it’s worse because he packs a wail of a punch in his left hand.
Heart Marquez showed great heart against Robbie Peden. Peden broke his nose in the 2nd round, but Marquez fought through it and eventually stopped him via body shots in a dominating performance. Pacquiao showed great heart in his bouts with Hussein and Yeshmangbetov. He rose off the canvas and came back to win both fights via knockout.
Experience Both fighters have 40 + fights, both have been in significant fights, but Pacquiao has a bigger win (Barrera) on his record. Nevertheless, to even things out, Marquez is at home in Las Vegas, Nevada, having fought there over a dozen times while Pacquiao has fought once in the Mecca of boxing.
Keys To The Fight
Juan Manuel Marquez
- Establish your jab early to keep Pacquiao off balance and help set up your combinations.
- Fight your regular fight, but with a bit more aggression than usual.
- Invest in a body attack as it consistently tames and breakdown most of your opponents.
- If Pacquiao comes out blazing early and shows you no respect, earn his respect quickly by giving him a taste of your two-fisted power. Give him something to think about.
- If at any point in the bout you hurt Pacquiao, don’t let him off the hook. Allowing him to recover may prove costly as the fight progresses.
- Use a few rounds to feel Marquez out, to study what his strategy may be.
- Use your speed advantage. Early on, dart in, fire combos, dart out, and don’t admire your work. Staying inside for too long could spell trouble.
- As the fight progresses, if it becomes evident that Marquez can’t handle your pressure and southpaw style, up the tempo, but remain conscious of his power. Don’t get reckless.
- Don’t overcommit to the left hand. Marquez is a master counter-puncher and will make you pay if you aren’t careful.
- If you hurt Marquez, don’t go for broke. He’s still extremely dangerous when hurt.
- Marquez has arguably never lost a fight. He was disqualified in his pro debut in what Marquez refers to as a strange call. His opponent was cut in the first round and when the fourth round started, he was disqualified. Apparently, the doctor who called the fight had a financial stake in his opponent. And in his HBO debut, Marquez dropped a disputed decision to Freddie Norwood.
- Marquez hasn’t suffered a loss since the disputed decision to Norwood in 1999. Since then he’s 13-0 with 11 knockouts. The average of number of rounds for those 13 fights was 6.9 rounds.
- Pacquiao hasn’t lost since 1999, since moving up to 122-126, and like Marquez has reeled off a 13 fight win streak with 12 knockouts. The average number of rounds for those 13 fights was 4.8 rounds.
- The belief that Marquez is a similar fighter to Pacquiao victim, Barrera, is an inaccurate one. Unlike Barrera, Marquez is a natural counter-puncher, has less ringwear, is faster, and is a natural featherweight with real featherweight power.
- Both fighters are trained by two of the best trainers in the sport, Freddie Roach (Pacquiao) and Nacho Beristain (Marquez).
On paper, both fighters are evenly matched, but once they climb into the ring, one will demonstrate that he’s a slight notch above the other.
As the fight begins, both fighters will most likely come out cautious in the early going carefully sizing each other up from head to toe. The fight should heat up in the 3rd and 4th rounds, with both fighters fighting on even terms, Marquez having the slight edge as a result of his edge in boxing technique. Pacquiao will draw first blood by stunning, hurting, quite possibly dropping Marquez, which will in turn get Marquez’s blood boiling somewhere between rounds 5 and 6.
Believing that he's a few punches away from putting Marquez away, Pacquiao will up the tempo and force Marquez to stand his ground and trade with him. Pacquiao will get overaggressive and Marquez will hurt him to the head and body, primarily to the body. In those exchanges, Marquez will show that as the natural featherweight with the superior boxing skill, he’s better able to absorb and avoid punches much more effectively than Pacquiao.
Sensing that Marquez could be turning the tide on him, Pacquiao will come out with a vengeance in rounds seven and eight. In one of those rounds, Pacquiao will get countered with a vicious combination and hit the canvas for the first time in the fight. Knowing that he has a wounded tiger in front of him, Marquez will move in for the finish. Pacquiao will hit the deck for the 2nd time and will rise again only to lose the war via referee stoppage a few seconds later. Echoing in the background will be the old boxing adage, “A great big man almost always beats a great little man.” In a battle reminiscent to Salvador Sanchez Vs Wilfredo Gomez, Marquez will stop Pacquiao within 8 rounds.
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