By Christina Thomas
And so it begins again – in the final days of 2012, Pacquiao and Marquez will meet for what will likely be the 4th and final time. Any fight the endearing Filipino superstar has after that will be an opponent regarded as “not-Floyd”, whether he likes it or not.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
It does no good to overlook Juan Manuel Marquez, however; for those who remember their previous bouts, the Mexican pugilist extraordinaire was hardly outmatched for some significant rounds, with many armchair boxing judges believing he actually beat Manny in their first meeting. Indeed, Marquez put on a bit of a boxing clinic on Pacquiao’s face for the first few minutes, before he was floored by a bristling straight left. Of course, that’s all that Manny needed before the smell of blood found him and he literally pounced on his opponent, blasting over and over again with that uniquely powerful left hand punch. Although Marquez would go down three times, he answered back strongly through the next rounds.
The point is, Marquez was able to figure out that Manny has a single, withering punch, in which Pacquiao nonetheless has supreme confidence. Marquez was able cause that confidence to waver starting from the fifth round of their first bout, even staggering the game Pacquiao…but the first dominant round proved too much to overcome and both would have to be satisfied with the always unpopular draw. If what we learned from that bout could be summed up, it’s that Marquez is a better boxer (and it’s not that close), but Pacquaio is surprisingly powerful as well as resilient
The major question going into their fourth clash almost a decade later, is whether Marquez is even capable of knocking Pacquiao out; it’s clear he’s able to neutralize Manny’s dangerous left hand as the rounds progress and land his own shots; but Manny recovers very quickly from them, even though he visibly registers the damage.
Pacquiao/Marquez II was much, much closer in boxing prowess. The older Pacquiao had rectified his tendency to harbor just the single weapon and, at 29, was almost as good a boxer as he was a power-puncher. The array of advantages that Marquez displayed in their first fight was less impressive – through no fault of the premier Mexican champion. Even expert boxing analysis and former champion George Foreman noticed the technical improvement in the Pac-Man’s pure abilities. Nonetheless, a huge left hand from Marquez rocked Manny like never before – although he showed that almost legendary resilience and refused to fold.
Marquez wasn’t impressed, however, and started landing a beating on Pacquiao in the third, rocking him again with a straight right. Marquez’s pressing technique, however, seemed to forget about that uniquely explosive left hand…and soon got floored by it; and would have again if not for the sound of the closing bell. Some things to take from this development is that no matter how good Marquez’s counterpunching technique is, Pac-Man always has that left hand weapon, coupled with great body movement and the ability to shake off damage, that makes him the favorite on Dec. 8 – even though Marquez still has the overall edge in boxing skill. And with the brilliant Pac-Man’s recent loss to Timothy Bradley (controversy aside; he was far from brilliant in that bout), and his squeaking by with a win in Pacquiao-Marquez III, this round will be one for the Ages – and will either quell or heighten any further talk of a dance with Floyd.