By Chris Robinson
Having seen his star fighter Manny Pacquiao in camp in Los Angeles several times over the past few weeks, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum claims that the eight-division champion is looking nearly as good as he has ever seen him.
Pacquiao faces off with Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Dec. 8 and Arum spoke to me about a Tuesday training session he witnessed while inside of the famed Wild Card Boxing Club.
“I was really impressed,” Arum would tell me of Pacquiao on Thursday afternoon as we spoke at Yuriorkis Gamboa and 50 Cent's media day at the Fortune Gym. “Because he had a full sparring session and this is the best I’ve seen him look in years.
“I can attest that one session that I watched, he knocked down a sparring partner,” Arum added. “I don’t know about the other [reported knockdowns], but I saw him knock down a sparring partner.”
Having been singing Pacquiao’s praises in camp, Arum was asked what it is he sees in his fighter that is so remarkable this specific camp.
“He’s quicker, he’s move aggressive, and he’s punching harder,” stated the Hall of Fame promoter.
The first three Pacquiao-Marquez duels were all high-octane affairs that left people split on who was the real victor after 12 rounds of action. In each bout, Marquez used his counterpunching prowess to nullify Pacquiao’s aggression, creating for a tense and often electric atmosphere.
And while Marquez was left complaining following all the encounters, so too was Pacquiao left befuddled this past June after he dropped a split-decision and lost his WBO welterweight title to unbeaten Tim Bradley.
That disputed loss alone is reason enough for Arum to believe that Pacquiao's psyche will be completely different heading into yet another crucial meeting with Marquez.
“Understand what’s happened here, is the first three fights, Pacquiao won two and one was a draw,” said Arum. “So, the one who was complaining about the officials was Marquez. Now, after the [Tim] Bradley fight, when everybody, including Manny, saw himself winning it easily, and it goes the other way, now Manny is troubled about the officials.
“You have two fighters who don’t trust the judges and they’re going to take it in their own hands,” Arum would further explain. “You’re going to see two guys fight aggressively and go for a knockout. It means that Marquez is going to forget about counterpunching and go after and attack Manny. Marquez feels he has enough strength now, that he can take out Pacquiao. It’s not going to be anything like the first three fights.”