Speaking with the folks at Primetime, Manny Pacquiao promised action and a clear victory in his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12.
"Juan Manuel Marquez has the right to make alibis about not winning our two previous fights. It’s because of those alibis that I am so motivated for our upcoming fight. I want to end all the questions he has raised about who won our past fights and who the better fighter is," said Pacquiao.
"I have something to prove in this fight. I expect Marquez to be faster and stronger than the last time we fought. He is the ultimate competitor. I am prepared to go another brutal 12 rounds just like the previous two fights," promised Pacquiao.
"There will be a lot of action in this fight. We both have a lot of pride when we enter the ring representing our countries, fighting for the honor of our nations," he said.
Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KO) went to an epic draw in 2004 with Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KO), and in 2008, squeaked past him by razor-thin split decision. Many did score both fights for Marquez, many scored both for Pacquiao, and many felt the official decisions were entirely fair. Either way, the fact is that over 24 rounds, almost nothing has separated these two great fighters.
Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach gives Marquez all the credit for being the one man since 2005 to give the Filipino a real test, but he also feels that the Mexican will be ill-prepared to face the 2011 version of Manny:
"I’m worried that Marquez could have Manny’s number. He is the only fighter who seems to have figured out Manny’s style. That is why I am training Manny for the knockout -- to clear the air on who is better. Manny is going to shut up Marquez once and for all - I’m sick of his whining," Roach added.
"Marquez will be surprised when he faces this version of Manny. He no longer fights in one direction or with one hand. Manny has become a complete fighter. He moves laterally in both directions and he throws potent punches with both hands. Manny has so many more weapons than the last time they fought. I think Manny knocks out Marquez in the sixth round," said a confident Roach.
Some are worried about the weight (144 lbs.) for the fight, while some have pointed out that once they get to the ring, the two generally weigh just about the exact same, somewhere in the high 140s, and that shouldn't change for this fight. Promoter Bob Arum has been quick to dismiss Marquez's embarrassing 2009 loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr as a style matchup that was all wrong for him, with Marquez the counter-puncher facing a guy who doesn't lead action often and doesn't allow for counter-punching. And Arum has his points.
But here's a question for you: If the styles are right, and the weight isn't going to be an issue, could age be the real deciding factor? Manny turns 33 in December, and his last two fights have saw him look a little bit worn in the ring, without the same great movement we're used to. He was hit plenty by Antonio Margarito, and had some cramping issues against Shane Mosley.
But Marquez is 38 years old, and nearing the end of his career, or at least nearing the end of his career as a true top fighter, which he still is. He's the lightweight champion of the world, in my view still a top five pound-for-pound fighter, and the only fighters he's lost to since 2006 are Mayweather and Manny. But since he's moved up from 130 pounds, he's had some troubles with guys like Michael Katsidis, Joel Casamayor, and Juan Diaz. Good fighters, yes, and yes, Marquez still won the fights, and in fact stopped all three guys.
Does he have enough left to weather the Pacquiao storm? I think that's the real question. It's not size, it's perhaps not even purely age. It's about Marquez's style, his willingness to engage in a brawl, and the fact that Manny is, I think we can all agree, faster and a harder puncher than Katsidis, Casamayor, and Diaz. Marquez survived those guys and put them away. Can he survive Manny?