Jim Lampley on Pacquiao-Marquez IV: 'They'll smell each other's breath, taste each other's sweat and blood'

Jim Lampley went all JIM LAMPLEY in an interview today about tomorrow night's Pacquiao vs Marquez IV fight, as only JIM LAMPLEY can.

Austin Schindel, XFINITY Sports: "Jim, first of all, you were right there, you were the closest person to the Pacquiao-Bradley decision. What was your immediate reaction to that decision?"

Jim Lampley, HBO Sports: "Well, I had a tiny hint. Just a little foreshadowing, because Michael Buffer looked down at me and gave me one of those looks that said, 'You're not going to believe what you're about to hear.' So I sort of knew it was coming, but it was still shocking. It's one of those decisions that rocks you back and makes you think, 'Wait a minute, what in the world were they watching that I didn't see?' I was pleased and gratified later to learn that of 61 ringside, credentialed reporters, 58 had Pacquiao winning the fight. It was pretty strong sentiment in favor of what we all felt was the right decision, but that wasn't the official decision."

Schindel: "So if this this fourth matchup holds up to as good as the first three were, where do you rank this matchup and rivalry in the history of boxing?"

Lampley: "It's a very important rivalry. These have been 36 great rounds. I wouldn't put it at the level of violent intensity of, say, Gatti-Ward or Barrera-Morales. Even Bowe-Holyfield was a more violent trilogy than this has been. But it's been a tremendous showcase for two really great and valiant fighters who are so similar and so equal in their records, that they really could have been twin brothers. If you look at the numbers, it's just astonishing to see who these people are. One has 60 fights, the other has 61 fights, they've both won 54. One has 38 knockouts, the other has 39 knockouts. One has a longest knockout streak of 15, the other has a longest knockout streak of 16. They are practically the same fighter in terms of their numbers. To have seen them face-to-face, to see their competing and complementary styles, to see judges try to deal with that -- I'll always say the first fight is the greatest scoring clinic of all-time. Three dramatically different scorecards, each with a logical rationale. It's been an important trilogy, and as a four-fight series, it'll go on the list of the eight or ten most important four-fight series ever. And I've been very privileged to be able to call all those rounds."

Schindel: "You've covered the Super Bowl, you've covered the Olympics, what is it about a prizefight that separates it from anything else in sports?"

Lampley: "Personal confrontational psychology, The Olympics is about national teams and individuals, but they don't face each other face-to-face. There are only two sports where you face each other face-to-face, and all of your physical and psychological attributes are visible and available for the audience to recognize. One is tennis, and in tennis, you don't hit each other. The other is boxing. That's what sets boxing apart, that's what makes boxing so compelling for audiences all around the world. You don't need to know all the sophisticated nuances of the difference between Marquez the counter puncher and Pacquiao the puncher to understand what it means that these two guys are going to stand a couple feet from each other, they're gonna smell each other's breath, they're gonna taste each other's sweat and blood, they're gonna share with each other in a way that nobody else can share with them. They're gonna leave there knowing more about each other than anybody knows about them, even their wives. Only boxing produces that kind of drama."

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