by Charles Jay
On the surface, Juan Manuel Marquez, at 38 years of age, may look like someone fighting past his “sell-by” date. But he comes to Las Vegas thinking this might be the right opponent at the right time for him. Is he right?
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
An argument can be made for a fight that could cause Manny Pacquiao a lot of anxiety. After all, Marquez has given him a life-and-death struggle not once, but twice. and I bet Pacquiao was more than a little surprised to see that Marquez was able to get up from three knockdowns in the first round to take the measure of him the rest of the way in the first meeting. Thus far, in 24 rounds between these fighters, there have been 72 rounds on judges’ cards, and Marquez has won 41 of those rounds (thanks to ESPN for doing that math).
Yet Marquez couldn’t touch Floyd Mayweather when they fought a couple of years ago. What does this say about Marquez, and what does this say about Pacquiao?
Well, styles make fights, and while Mayweather had too slick a style for Marquez, generally hitting and making himself unavailable to BE hit, Pacquiao is the type who will basically come toward his guy and engage. He should be in Marquez’s face most of the time, and consequently he will be within range. That represents Marquez’s chances in this fight – that he doesn’t have to go looking for his opponent.
That having been said, it might not be precisely the same dynamic as the last fight. Yes, even as Pacquiao had progressed in his career, beating Erik Morales in two out of three, and defeating Marco Antonio Barrera, he still had a lot of trouble in that split decision win. But that was before the run that would be rather historic for Pacquiao, as he moved through title fights in the lightweight, junior welterweight, welterweight and even junior middleweight (vs. Antonio Margarito) divisions.
Whatever you want to speculate about what has “aided” Pacquiao on the way up, he’s there now. And when we say “there,” we mean that he is very comfortable at the 143 pounds he weighed on Friday.
Theoretically, I guess, he has been waiting a while for Marquez to get to this point; the last time these guys tangled, it was at 129 pounds. Marquez is now at 142, for the sake of a payday and a shot at the biggest fighter in the sport right now, and while he has looked okay against decent opposition beyond 130 pounds, he’s not been dominant in any way. Against Mayweather, he looked like a guy who was left wanting for speed and quickness, but then again, a lot of fighters are going to look that way against Mayweather.
Well, Pacquiao has his own brand of speed, utilized in more of a swarming way, and we’re pretty confident that it’s going to be on display on Saturday night. At this weight, I feel this is a whole new thing for Marquez to deal with.
How much of an effect will “conditioning coach” Angel Heredia (the former steroid dealer-turned-government informant) have on the festivities? That’s a good question, because the purpose of that union is to make it easier for Marquez to adapt to the higher weight. I have little doubt they have the ability to beat the drug tests administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, if they chose to go that way, simply because in his court testimony, Heredia has said as much about the whole process. Of course, the same could be said for Pacquiao, who has not called out for any extensive testing, but I have to proceed on the assumption that this is not going to be a battle governed by chemistry.
In thoroughbred racing, we talk about whether horses can “get the distance” when they are going farther than they have gone previously. My skepticism revolves around whether Marquez can “get” the weight, at least enough to come away with a victory.
I think he will get his licks in, but Pacquiao is more composed than he was before; not as wild, able to carry the weight well, and capable of landing punches in punches against Marquez, who is not cat-quick to begin with. I’m looking for a fight that will have sustained action for a while, unless Pacquiao comes out with another first-round blitz, with an end coming in the eighth or ninth round.
The Charles Jay Line
WBO Welterweight Title
November 12 – Las Vegas
MANNY PACQUIAO -800
JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ +700
Ends inside distance -130
Goes full distance +120