Manny Pacquiao, like most of us, believes that Juan Manuel Marquez is a smart fighter. A very smart fighter, in fact.
But now he's saying it's more than that. In a piece from Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports, Manny calls his Mexican rival "a genius," and says that he's trying to trick Pacquiao into taking it easy on Saturday in their third fight:
"Marquez is the smartest guy I have fought recently," Pacquiao said. "He is a genius. You know why? It is because he is trying to use my personality. He knows I am a nice person, so he thinks that if he is very nice and respectful to me before the fight then I will go easy on him and will not knock him out.
"It is very smart. But I am smarter than him because I know what he is trying to do."
... "I know what people want from me in the future and what they want to see now," Pacquiao said. "They want to see me knock out Marquez because it is exciting for boxing when there are knockouts.
Now this is the type of angle for a fight that I can really get behind, because I think there's some honest truth in here. The last few days I've been knocking two fights around in my head.
One is the third fight between Pacquiao and Erik Morales, where Manny obliterated another old rival in three rounds. That has been the single most referenced fight when most compare Pacquiao vs Marquez III to a previous bout in Manny's illustrious career.
But the other is the forgettable and largely forgotten 2007 rematch with Marco Antonio Barrera and Pacquiao. In that fight, Barrera survived 12 rather listless rounds. Part of it was that Barrera essentially showed up to collect a paycheck, similar to other fighters we've seen against the likes of Pacquiao and the Klitschko brothers in recent years. But another part was that Manny is a nice guy, as he says. Even a late and pretty blatant cheap shot didn't raise his ire enough for him to go for the kill in that bout.
Later, trainer Freddie Roach said that he had asked Manny why he didn't knock out Barrera, as he had done in 2003, and Pacquiao replied that he respected Barrera and didn't want to embarrass him.
It sounds like maybe Manny has also thought of that rematch with Barrera, and the disappointment its lack of fireworks produced. Plus, Manny is 0-for-3 in his last three fights when it comes to scoring a stoppage, and I don't think he likes that. Clottey turtled, Margarito endured a broken face, and Mosley scampered. But all of those men were bigger than Pacquiao by a significant margin, and all of them seemed to have the power to keep Pacquiao honest instead of going for broke.
Sounds like Manny will go for it on Saturday.