Lee Payton takes a look at the November 12 trilogy fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, and expects another top fight between the two rivals.
When Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring to fight Juan Manuel Marquez he is expected to put an end to perhaps his greatest rivalry with a dominant performance and that strikes me as a bit unfair to the fighters considering the history between these two all-time warriors.
Is this really based on style and skill? How much is based on things that may not mean a whole lot in a roped off square?
It seems to me that if there was room for separation between these two, we would have seen it over 24 rounds. I'm sure that if you gathered every scorecard in the world, totaled them up and averaged it out, you'd get a draw. Judges in training should have to score those fights as their final exam. I came up with two draws (113-113 and 114-114).
You may remember that Manny was supposed to flatten the "Mexico City Terminator" (you can't keep him down) in the second fight for many of the same reasons he is expected to do so in the third. Pac-Man was faster and younger than JMM back then, too, but it was his brand new right hand that was going to be the difference, and it wasn't really a factor.
This time people are pointing to the weight limit of 144 lbs as the reason why Marquez has so little chance to win. I'm not sure it will turn out to be that big a deal when all is said and done. First of all, The Lightweight Champion comes into the ring at around 145, which is only a few pounds less than what his opponent has been weighing lately. Actually the weight differential will likely be less than it was for their rematch.
I have no doubt that Pacquiao is a superior welterweight in that he is better suited to go up against the bigger fighters for reasons of athleticism and style. Marquez doesn't have the spring in his legs to dart in and out. Standing in front of guys who are 160+ pounds wouldn't be good for him.
That said, those big guys aren't on Marquez' level skill-wise and they didn't bring the stylistic difficulty either. As long as he doesn't mess around with his body too much, he'll be a stronger fighter as he won't have to diet or cut any weight in the last few days. I'm actually excited about seeing two top fighters who weren't 10-15 lbs lighter the day before.
Frankly, a lot of this stuff about the weight comes from the way Floyd Mayweather shut him down and out awhile back and I think it had more to do with Money than anything else. Besides, Pacquiao is a totally different opponent.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges Marquez faces are Pacquiao's bad assedness and his own mileage. 37 is ancient in boxing and Marquez has been in his share of wars over the years. However, he does seem like a guy who takes very good care of his body, which is why he is still at this level.
"Dinamita" is not quite as explosive as he was when these two first met, but I think the same is clearly true about Pacquiao. When was the last time you saw him throw that left hand with the same kinda hell he had on it when he was young? I'm in the minority, in that I believe Manny has lost a little bit off his fastball over the years. He's got more tools to rely on now, but he definitely doesn't chuck that left as often, or with the same velocity, as he did when he first started beating everyone up.
All 4 knock downs in the 2 previous fights have been the result of that devastating left. Mosley proved that you can keep Manny from heating up simply by turning toward his significantly less deadly right hand, and I imagine JMM and Nacho will use that tape, as well as their experience, to their advantage. Moving away from the left hand is half the battle, and they must know it.
Turning to his right will cut Manny's usual output in half and if he isn't landing huge left hands with consistency, the crowd will be quiet. Those slow, slient rounds undoubtedly favor the thinking man, Marquez. He'll need to keep things calm for 7 or 8 of 12 to have a chance at securing that elusive victory and a guaranteed 10 million dollar payday for a fourth encounter.
Can he keep his trunks off the canvas this time? Manny almost knocked him out twice already. There's no getting around that fact.
Right now, I feel that if Marquez keeps his feet on the floor for 12, he wins, but Pacquiao can drop or stop him at any point.
It's a near even fight to me, with a slight advantage to Manny because he's younger and can change everything with one punch.
I'm really looking forward to watching these two greats clash at least one more time.