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Juan Manuel Marquez Speaks: Pacquiao, not Hatton, is first choice

Lightweight world champion Juan Manuel Marquez told a Mexican radio station (link via BoxingScene.com) that his first choice for a return bout would be a trilogy fight with his great rival Manny Pacquiao, and that only if that fight can't be made would he look to fight Ricky Hatton in England. Both fights have been talked about this week, with Hatton indicating he'll come back in 2010 and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum saying that Marquez would Pacquiao's next option if a super fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. isn't possible.

I already made my feelings on Pacquiao-Marquez III pretty clear, and Pacquiao himself seems to have no interest in the fight, feeling the public won't buy it. Thinking about it a bit more, it's a fight I'd surely buy, because both men are fighters that deserve my money and have given me more than "enough" entertainment over the years. But I really don't have any more interest in Pacquiao-Marquez III than I did Pacquiao-Morales III or Pacquiao-Barrera II; the end result was pretty obvious in both of those cases, and I think the same is true for this idea, especially since Freddie Roach wants it at 145 pounds and we know Marquez can't carry the weight and keep his speed or power.

I mean, of course Juan Manuel would prefer Pacquiao to Hatton. It's a bigger fight, meaning a bigger purse, more attention, and massive shockwaves if he pulled the upset or even took Manny to the limit for a third time. The last time Pacquiao met much resistance at all was his 2008 rematch with Marquez, which was four Manny fights and three weight classes ago.

One thing I have to admire is that Marquez seriously refuses to believe he can't beat Pacquiao, though. He's 36, slowing down some (still a marvelous boxer), and we've seen Manny get ferociously dominant in the time we've watched Marquez cool off a little bit. But he thinks he beat Manny twice, and he thinks he can do it now. Even though he didn't carry the weight well against Floyd, he probably legitimately thinks he can beat Manny at 145, too. I don't, but Marquez has never lacked for guts, pride or warrior spirit. How many good or even great fighters might have found themselves mentally broken when knocked down three times by Pacquiao in the opening round, as Marquez was in 2004? Or when it was apparent that Manny was the stronger man in the 2008 rematch? Marquez never stopped trying against Floyd, either, he just couldn't do anything with him. The guy has the heart of a lion.

Oh, crap, I'm talking myself into Pacquiao-Marquez III, aren't I?