HBO PPV 9:00 PM, Saturday, December 8th, 2012 from The MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs)
Weight Class: Welterweight (147 Pounds)
Analysis: Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will meet for the fourth time Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Nevada. I will not rehash the first three fights in their entirety, but were close bouts that could have gone either way. In their first bout, Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in the first round only to see Marquez stage a furious comeback winning a majority of the rest of the rounds on the scorecards. The bout was judged a draw. The rematch saw Marquez get dropped in round three with an even back and forth throughout the fight that saw Pacquiao bring home a split decision win. The third fight was a technical battle that saw neither fighter hit the canvass. Pacquiao would be awarded a majority decision victory. Many have scored anywhere from one to all three of the bouts to Marquez. Seeing how the first bout took place in 2004 and the second in 2008 it is hard for me to remember how I scored those two bouts and I did not have time to re-watch them. However, I believe I scored the first bout to Marquez and the second bout to Pacquiao though I really should watch them and re-score them. I know I scored the third bout 115-113 for Marquez. Needless to say, that is how close these two fighters have been with one another in their three bouts.
So, what do I like in this bout? For Marquez, I like the determination and will he has to right a perceived wrong. Understandably, Marquez feels he has won all three bouts and gotten the short end of the stick on the judges’ scorecards. This drives Marquez and gives him a hunger that I doubt Pacquiao possesses. I like how well Marquez’s camp was for this bout. After three years of work with Angel Hernandez, Marquez has achieved the body transformation he was looking for. I also think Marquez has an advantage when compared to the Pacquiao camp. Reports are that conditioning coach Alex Ariza and trainer Freddie Roach have been bumping heads throughout the whole training process. It’s likely that this won’t have a huge effect on Pacquiao, but it is something to note.
As for Pacquiao, I like the confidence he brings into this bout as having an official record of 2-0-1 against Marquez. I also like Pacquiao’s age advantage in this bout. While he may be aging at 33, Pacquiao is six years younger than Marquez. At some point Marquez will show the effects of aging and 61 professional bouts. It can happen at any time and Pacquiao could find himself in the ring with an old Marquez Saturday night. I also like Pacquiao’s size and power advantages. He is the larger fighter. He has grown into the welterweight division while Marquez still looks like a blown up lightweight. Pacquiao’s power is also huge. He has dropped Marquez four times while not being dropped once in the trilogy. Possessing an eraser like that give Pacquiao a chance to pick up extra points or end the bout inside the distance – two factors Marquez does not possess in this bout.
The apparent strategies entering this bout are interesting. Marquez has focused on upper body strength and explosive power. He is looking to land more damaging blows to Pacquiao in hopes of either scoring a late stoppage or scoring hard enough blows to carry more rounds on the cards. This may be good in theory, but I really question the strategy. The last thing Marquez needs to do is be muscle bound and lose his quick hands. He relies on countering Pacquiao and if unable to do so, this could be a long night for Marquez. Also, Marquez looks a bit top heavy. I worry about his flexibility and movement. He already looked off balance in their last meeting and the last thing he needs to do is increase the unsteadiness on his aging legs.
Pacquiao’s strategy appears to be more aggressive and to look to stop Marquez. Again, this is good in theory. Pacquiao has dropped Marquez four times over the course of this rivalry and sports huge size and power advantages now that the bout has moved to 147 pounds. However, Pacquiao blew the first fight, in my opinion, by being overly aggressive and allowing Marquez to counter the heck out of him. Pacquiao needs to be cautiously aggressive if that makes sense. If he just bulls in and tries to blast Marquez, Pacquiao could get countered and find himself digging a hole on the scorecards that can only be rectified by a knockout. I do see why Pacquiao wants to be more aggressive. In the last bout, Marquez slowed the action and I believe he will look to do the same this time around. Pacquiao just needs to do it carefully.
All the way through last night, I was prepared to take Pacquiao by a mid to late round knockout. I first thought round eight and then round ten. I figured Marquez is getting older. I thought the last fight may have been the perfect storm of Marquez putting on one final great performance in his career mixed in with a distracted Pacquiao who had an underwhelming training camp thanks to marital woes, congressional commitments, and a list of other distractions. It seemed logical to me that a properly trained and distraction free Pacquiao would put a final stamp on this rivalry by stopping the smaller, older fighter.
After more thought and listening to other pundits, I feel myself shifting towards Marquez. He had the better camp and is the hungrier fighter. He also has the momentum entering this bout from their third meeting. Pacquiao has been inconsistent in his last three bouts against Shane Mosley, Marquez, and Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao has even started fading over the last third of these bouts. Pacquiao has always struggled with Marquez’s timing. Marquez slow the pace of the fight down and hits Pacquiao with clean scoring blows. If the bout goes the distance and is close, can the judges take another decision away from Marquez, especially after the consensus was that Marquez won the third bout?
It’s all intriguing, but Marquez has to get to the final bell and keep the fight close for this to happen. I didn’t think he could, but my mind may be changing on that. I picked a Pacquiao to score a stoppage win last time and he did not even drop Marquez. There is something about this matchup that dictates a distance fight. Maybe it is Marquez’s sheer will, the clash of styles, or something else, but I have started to get a feeling that this one will now go the distance.
I may regret this, but I am changing my pick from the favored Pacquiao by tenth round stoppage to the underdog Marquez by decision. I think Marquez will look to counter Pacquiao and dig to the body. I think Pacquiao will do as he says and look to increase his punch output to try and secure rounds on the scorecard. I think Marquez will continue to time Pacquiao and score. Each fighter will have their moments in this game of high speed chess. This will be another close bout, but the boxing gods will finally give Marquez his due and give him a justified decision win.
Prediction: Marquez 115-113