Juan Manuel Marquez looks leaner, stronger, and more defined than he did one year ago at about the same weight before facing Manny Pacquiao, and his controversial strength and conditioning coach Memo Hernandez is confident that any way the fight goes, Marquez's newly-remodeled 39-year-old body will be able to adapt when he faces Pacquiao for a fourth time tonight in Las Vegas.
"I told him that I wanted to get him at 142, 143 pounds just like last year. ... He's going to be much faster than the last time. You have to understand Juan Manuel Marquez. Right now, I've got him to the point where he can move around and go in whatever direction he wants. ... So, in other words, he's going to be able to do whatever reaction his body needs to have take place. He's going to be able to counter-punch, and he's going to be able to go forward."
Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO) is the underdog again tonight, but many out there are tipping him to finally get the elusive official victory over his great rival. Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KO) is coming back from his first official loss since 2005, but few thought he deserved the L against Timothy Bradley in June.
Hernandez says that with a full year working with the fighter, he's got Marquez fine-tuned and in perfect condition. It's unlikely the doubts about Marquez or Pacquiao or anyone else who has failed or has even been accused of using PEDs will ever fully go away -- you can't unring that bell, basically -- but looking at Marquez, it's pretty clear Hernandez has done his job getting the fighter into shape.