Photo © Will Hart / HBO
Tonight's the night! After four long years of waiting, Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao meet again.
At the weigh-in yesterday, Marquez came in at 130, and Pacquiao at a trim 129.
Undercard Notice: ESPN360 and Yahoo! Sports will have streaming coverage of the non-televised undercard in Vegas, which will start at 7pm ET.
Our pal Tim Starks at MVN's Ring Report has an in-depth preview, and picks Marquez.
John Nguyen of The Sweet Science is taking Pacquiao via decision.
ESPN's Dan Rafael has a preview, of course, and the ESPN boxing team's Fight Credential section has lots of content. To note: Rafael and Don Steinberg are taking Pacquiao, and Graham Houston is leaning toward Marquez.
Boxing Scene's Tony Ondrizek compares Marquez-Pacquiao II to Vazquez-Marquez, wondering if Pacquiao plays the role of Vazquez -- the stronger fighter against the more skilled fighter, coming out on top in the end on sheer will and power.
With a similar idea, Jerry Magee of the San Diego Union-Tribune says that Juan Manuel isn't worried about the comparison to his brother Rafael's series with Vazquez, and doesn't think the same thing will happen to him.
Cliff Rold of Boxing Scene (via FOXSports.com) thinks the fight is arriving "just a hair" too late for Marquez to beat Pacquiao.
Marco Antonio Barrera has thoughts on the fight too: he's rooting for his countryman, but his money's on Pacquiao.
The Sports Network's Lyle Fitzsimmons is taking Marquez via decision, and doesn't totally get the hype behind Pacquiao. I don't quite agree, but again, who am I to choose someone's tea?
Bob Velin of USA Today discusses the national pride involved in the fight. It's big, to say the least.
The NY Post's George Willis at ESPN notes "what to watch for" in the fight, and even the events surrounding the fight.
And then elsewhere there's all the "Manny's in great shape!" and "Juan is in fantastic condition!" stuff that you hear for every fight.
I'll tell you what, the Vegas odds are clear for Pacquiao, but there are a LOT of very smart folks out there picking Juan Manuel Marquez. And it's such a pick 'em fight -- I myself am still leaning toward Juan Manuel scoring the minor upset in a great, close fight, but when people say they think Marquez is just that one little step too far past his peak to beat the younger, stronger Pacquiao, I can't help but think they just might be 100% correct.
I'm picking Marquez simply because I don't think he's that one little step too far past his peak. What about Juan Manuel Marquez's two fights in 2007 showed anyone that he was slowing down, really? He went toe-to-toe with Barrera in a classic Mexican standoff, and then he mauled Rocky Juarez late in the year.
As for Pacquiao, I've talked about his '07 before. I love Manny, but it did nothing to impress anyone. He wailed on Jorge Solis as soon as he felt like it, as he should have. And then he took an easy decision over a disinterested, survival mode Barrera -- Barrera came into the fight not thinking he could actually win. He didn't fight to win as he had against Marquez in March. Outside of the big payday, Barrera really had no business in the ring that night. He didn't care, and it showed.
Do you think Golden Boy and Top Rank wish they would've made this fight last October instead of Pacquiao-Barrera II? Then again, at the time all I wanted was Pacquiao-Soto and Marquez-Barrera II. And I still think we would've been better off with those fights instead of Pacquiao-Barrera and Marquez-Juarez. And Jesus, remember when HBO was going to put Marquez-Barrios on PPV?
I am absolutely 100% charged to watch this fight. Assuming my God awful cable company doesn't crap out on me again, we'll be here with live coverage of all the HBO PPV fights, including the gigantic main event tilt between Marquez and Pacquiao. It's rare that a fight that promises to be this good is also this well promoted.
It's the biggest, most relevant, most important fight on the calendar. And let's not forget that this is for the TRUE 130-pound championship -- the Ring Magazine title (now vacant) is up for grabs tonight.
Finally, it's here.