By Christina Thomas
In anticipation of Pacquiao-Marquez 4, I was asking myself so many questions of how it would turn out – trying to profile each fighter from the news out of their camps, just like every other boxing fan. Would Manny’s calves return from their hiatus? Since most of the previous bouts were close, would Marquez pull out the stops to finally beat his professional nemesis? After all; it’s not like Manny hasn’t had Marquez’ number all these years (however slightly), so why would things be so much different? Will Pac-Man surprise Marquez with right-hand hooks like he did Hatton, and then bulrush the master technician?
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Hatton is no Marquez, granted; but then Pacquiao wasn’t quite this good at boxing 5 years ago. It’s always exciting for the fans when a pure talent, who has been carried aloft by that talent – and a sizable dose of heart seemingly unbecoming for such a small man – for so long starts to really put it together and become an athlete for the Ages. Perhaps this is why Pac-man took so many victories over what was clearly the better technician in Marquez in their previous fights; a legend like Juan Manuel “shouldn’t” be bullied early and taken to the brink late by a mere slugger – no matter how much dynamite brews in his left hand. And a “puncher’s chance” shouldn’t be able to beat a master twice.
Who would have thought that it would be Marquez with the puncher’s chance, to fold Pac-Man like Pac-Man has folded so many others? In a sport with a history like boxing, the questions will inevitably arise, no matter how much pseudo-logic brushes them aside in the face of tests-to-come, answers-to-be-revealed. Pacquiao has walked into Marquez punches before and did little more than grin or acknowledge the blow before responding. Did the Mexican have help? Or was the 6th round hook simply as well-placed as it seemed live? After all; Marquez had already downed Pac-Man in the 3rd with more power than we’d ever seen from him in their previous fights. As deserving a victory as this was for Manuel Marquez, given his previous inability to figure out Pac-Man, this weekend’s victory was tantamount to little more than a puncher’s chance.
The question remains though; after a hit like that, will Manny’s chin ever be the same again? The man who bested Marquez twice can certainly make a case for yet another dance between the two Hall of Famers; particularly since interest may have waned significantly in a Floyd-Manny bout (at least, as far as the 100 million dollar payday between the two of them is concerned); given that Mayweather gave Marquez a boxing lesson of the first degree when they met, totally outclassing the otherwise formidable boxer.
If anything is certain; we know that the will to fight that Manny has always shown in his fights will be telling in how things progress. It’s not like he hasn’t faced a knockout before; though Father Time was on his side then – whereas He’s shifting somewhat left of the middle now. All the proclamations of a Marquez-Pacquiao 4 being the final fight were admittedly predicated on the Mexicutioner (Manny still lays claim to that title) losing the 4th. It would seem that another meeting could be made in halfway through next year. It will help us determine whether the newfound speed (he was faster than Manny in this fight?!) was merely a result of Pac-Man finally slowing down or…something else. A great victory for Juan Manuel Marquez; apparently – the fourth time’s the charm.