Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez meet for a fourth time tomorrow night on HBO pay-per-view from Las Vegas. Who wins this time, and will there be more controversy? The BLH staff weighs in.
As they've done this 3 times already and the basic strategy for either fighter has never seemed to change, I'm going to keep this short. This time, finally, Marquez is going to get the decision. If you keep flipping a coin it's only going to land on heads so many times in a row. That's just probability. For Pacquiao to win yet another dubious decision (which he also would have got in the 1st fight if judge Clements didn't accidentally score the 1st round 10-7 instead of 10-6) is just too much luck for me to bet on. Then again all this math goes out the window if the judges are influenced by dollar signs rather than their own eyes. But I'm going to assume everything will be on the level for this fight. And maybe if judges harbor any personal bias it will be for Marquez this time since they feel bad that he's never gotten the decision before.
I don't think all these vows of either going for a KO will translate into what we see in the ring. They're just too stuck in their ways to change at this point. But perhaps Pacquiao will actually get dropped this time around if the trend of previous fights continues (1st fight JMM down 3 times, 2nd fight down once, 3rd fight never). I'd say if JMM actually does manage to drop Manny he'll probably win a unanimous decision, but I'll guess there's no knockdowns and Marquez walks away with a majority nod.
Pacquiao 1024 - Marquez 1017. That's the cumulative official score over the first 36 rounds these two have fought. There is no getting around how remarkable a seven point difference is over three fights. I don't imagine this turns into a runaway one way or the other and I don't really see a stoppage coming.
So then you have to look at a variable like judging. While there's a "correct" way to score fights, there's no denying that judges largely favor the man who is the "attacking fighter" in a close round. Pacquiao is the attacker while Marquez is the effective counterpuncher. It's probably a played out view of the fight, but as someone who sees the first three fights as 2-0-1 in favor of Marquez, I fully expect to see a fight where I give Marquez a slight edge but the judges favor Pacquiao. Of course, the last fight might have been a bit misleading for future results and Marquez might not look comfortable at welterweight this go-round and may get beat up by the stronger Pacquiao. Either way, I'll go with Pacquiao by decision with a touch of controversy.
Here we go again. Here we are again. It's here again. You, again?! This, again. Pacquiao and Marquez, Marquez and Pacquiao. Manny and Juan Manuel. "Pac-Man" and "Dinamita." Jim Lampley screaming at ringside. Larry Merchant, also in attendance. Bob Arum saying stuff. We've been here before. We know the terrain. And so do the fighters.
Surprises are unlikely. Maybe Marquez has "gotten old," but I'd bet he hasn't. Maybe Manny has slowed down so much that Marquez can clearly, clearly win this time, but I'd bet he hasn't. It's going to be a back-and-forth fight and come down to the exact thing we hate to hear: Judging is subjective, and this fight could have gone either way. It's going to happen again. I wouldn't even rule out a draw, but I don't dare choose one. This will look a lot like last year, but if I had to go out on a limb, I'd say we might see Marquez a bit more flat-footed than usual early, looking to land power shots. If or when that doesn't really work, he'll go back to fighting as he always does. It's going to be extremely competitive, and the wait for Michael Buffer to read the score cards will be agony. You might be upset again. I'm gonna pick it: Marquez by split decision.
Submitting these picks is always interesting, because you're invariably going into it blind, and invariably the predictions come out at the other end with all involved taking all sorts of angles on a fight, mostly different to your own.
The difference with Pacquiao-Marquez IV is that - sticking my neck out - I don't think the same applies here. Gauging public opinion, it's only the diehard Pacquiao fans picking a KO for their man; fewer from elsewhere going the other way for Marquez early. We know this is going to be tight. It always is. I don't buy the hyperbole that each guy is going to focus entirely on the knockout here, but I do think there'll be less cat-and-mouse toying stuff than last time.
I also think that one of the two here has their eye more on the game, that this means more to them, and - despite the age gap - maybe has a little more left in the tank. And I don't think that man is Manny Pacquaio. I think Marquez dictates the pace here more than he ever has, and with a busier workrate than we've seen before. He hasn't won these fights counter-punching. That's not to say he won't win any of them period. Let's say, this time, he gets the call. Marquez by razor-thin split decision.
I think we're going to see something very similar to what took place last November. Pacquiao simply can't force a fight with the same intensity as he used to, and Marquez, despite his aging legs, is still crafty enough to deal with predictable left hand attacks. Of course, there is the chance that Marquez, having been shafted last time out, might feel he needs to be more aggressive to win. If he does take more chances, we could see the older man walking into a fight changing blast.
I'll say Marquez plays it smart and wins about 8 or 9 rounds. And this time, that's enough to get the verdict from the judges. Marquez by decision.
Truth is, I just plain don't care about this fight, haven't paid attention to the build up, haven't watched 24/7 and haven't read any articles. But somehow I know I'll end up watching Saturday night. My favorite part of everything has been Freddie Roach accusing Juan Manuel Marquez of doping, with much of the same reasoning as those who accuse Manny. Boxing is hilarious.
Anyway, as for the fight, I expect one of two outcomes. 1) A close fight that JMM deserves to win but loses anyway. 2) JMM looks old finally and loses clearly. Rinse, repeat. Pacquiao by unanimous decision.
I'm very on the fence about this fight. Like most great matchups, I could see it going either way. When I look at the sum of their first three fights, I get the feeling Marquez has been a little better. But something keeps sticking in my mind. And that's the thought that Marquez fought about as good as he could have in the last fight while Pacquiao did about as poor as he could have, and, yet, it was still very, very close.
I think Marquez will be a little more aggressive than usual, part from confidence in his new strength, and part from the fear of dropping another close decision. And it's that aggression that will be his undoing. I see the pace of this fight leaning more toward what Pacquiao desires. It will be close again, but Pacquiao will land the more visibly cleaner blows and perhaps even floor Marquez again. I like Pacquiao on decision in another great fight.
Final Tally: Juan Manuel Marquez 4, Manny Pacquiao 3.