By Jake Donovan
On Saturday evening at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, longtime rivals Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez bring closure to a trilogy that began in this very arena eight years ago.
As was the case just over a year ago, the fight will take place in front of a sold-out MGM Grand venue to the tune of more than $10 million in gate revenue. Closed circuit seats are quickly filling up throughout the Vegas strip and promotional coverage has broken new ground.
But can a fourth fight produce anything that hasn’t already occurred in the previous three.
The future Hall of Fame entrants have fought to a virtual standstill through 36 rounds of action.
Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38KO) scored three knockdowns in the opening round of their first fight in May ’04, which took place at featherweight. Marquez (54-6-2, 39KO) braved the storm and boxed his way back into the fight. His performance from rounds 2-12 were enough to create controversy on the scorecards, with the end result being a split decision draw. One judge scored the first round 10-7 instead of 10-6, which denied Pacquiao of a narrow points win.
The Filipino southpaw would take the second fight by that very slim margin, which was produced on the strength of a third round knockdown to earn a split decision win and the lineal 130 lb. crown. Justice wasn’t exactly served, as most ringside experts had Marquez winning by 1-3 points.
Last year’s entry seemed to be the most disputed of the three, the one where Marquez could have finally gained respect in the eyes of the judges. Instead, it was Pacquiao who left the MGM Grand with a majority decision amidst a steady chorus of boos from the moment the final verdict was announced.
For the first time in the series, no major belt is at stake (ignoring, of course, the absurd “Champion of the Decade” trinket provided by the WBO). It’s also the first time either fighter faces the other on the heels of a loss, with Pacquiao suffering a highly controversial split decision defeat to Tim Bradley, ending a 15 fight win-streak that dated back to Sept. ’05.
Marquez comes in following an eight-month stretch out of the ring following his 12-round points win over Sergey Fedchenko in his native Mexico this past April.
How will things shake out in “Fourth And For All”?
Read on to see how the Boxingscene.com staff believes it will all go down.
“I'm not really sure what to think here. I guess I could go into a whole strategic diatribe on how Pacquiao is going to use his right hand more in this fight and Marquez is going to be sharper and more aggressive in this fight and how Pacquiao is going for the knockout and blah, blah, blah, so I'll just go with what will probably happen: Pacquiao by SD. (With Marquez walking out of the ring unhappy again, refusing to do a post-fight interview, leaving the world to ponder whether these guys will fight each other again or give someone else a chance. Yes, it's easy to be a tad cynical with this fight).”
– Mitch Abramson (Pacquiao)
“While it probably won't match the intensity level of their first two fights, I expect the fourth fight to be better than the third with both fighters looking for a knockout to ensure victory. I think Pacquiao will get a knock down but not a knockout and win a close but correct decision around 116-111 or 115-112. There won't be any outcry this time around and the book will finally be closed on this rivalry.”
– Ryan Burton (Pacquiao)
“I’m honestly fine with either fighter having a 3-0 lead in this series. All three fights were that close, including last year’s edition. That said, it’s been a long time since Manny has looked like his old self. Perhaps the Bradley fight outcome serves as a wake-up call. My hunch is that it’s no longer there for him and that Marquez finally gets his long awaited official win in this series. Marquez UD.”
– Jake Donovan (Marquez)
“He went down three times in the first round they fought, but since then, Juan Manuel Marquez has been in every way Manny Pacquiao's equal - except on the scorecards. And I can't help feeling Arum's going to continue this series until his crown jewel gets a decisive win. He may not be leading at the top of the homestretch this time either, but I think Manny lands a shot and enough of a follow-up flurry to finally get a stop... let's say in the 10th.”
– Lyle Fitzsimmons (Pacquiao)
“Pacquiao TKO6. I think this one is about making an exclamation point to end everything and Manny looks every bit as focused as we have seen of late. Of the two, while both have hit each other cleanly, it has been Manny who has taken the punches better. It is also why I think somewhere around the 5th round Manny seriously hurts Marquez only to have the bell stop the action but then finishes him off with a flurry of punches.”
– Ernest Gabion (Pacquiao)
“Pacquiao TKO7 – Mean Manny comes back, hopefully not for just one night.”
– Thomas Gerbasi (Pacquiao)
“It's hard to believe this fourth fight won't be a mirror image of their first three extremely competitive fights, despite promises from both boxers to be more aggressive. Juan Manuel Marquez might be 39, but he still can thrive at the elite level. Any age advantage Manny Pacquiao, 33, might have is pretty much offset by Pacquiao's undeniable slippage in the ring over the past two years. It'll be another impossibly close fight to score, but the fourth time will be the charm for Marquez.”
- Keith Idec (Marquez)
“Pacquiao SD Marquez. As much as I would like to predict Marquez to be the victor in another close war but I just don't see it happening. This fight will look a lot like the past 3 because their style are made for each other. In another controversial decision a early knockdown of Marquez will appear to be the deciding factor. Don't mind the decision just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the art form we call boxing.”
- Tim Kudgis (Pacquiao)
“Pacquiao MD Marquez. Marquez has added strength and bulk. He'll be stronger and slower. Training camp reports say Pacquiao has backed up his promise of a KO victory by flooring sparring partners often. There's a good chance he drops Marquez twice, and a good chance that he gets dropped for the first time in this series while attempting the KO. Pac's speed and power keep Marquez happy to counter-punch his way to a tough loss, but a less controversial one than previously witnessed.”
- Richard Najdowski (Pacquiao)
“I think that after three straight times of picking Manny Pacquiao to win, this time I'm going with the upset. I'm picking Juan Manuel Marquez by decision. I think that it will be a unanimous decision. I think that it will be a real close fight, but I think that the judges are going to give Marquez the benefit of the doubt in every single round, and that he might actually pull it off this time.”
- Rick Reeno (Marquez)
“I feel we are in for another close, spirited battle but I see Pacquiao doing just enough this time around to emerge victorious. I just think he will be on his game a little more than their third fight and I feel a full training camp at the Wild Card was likely beneficial. I also don't know how much Marquez has left at age 40, despite his impressive physique.”
- Chris Robinson (Pacquiao)
“Does Manny Pacquiao need a knockout to win here? It sort of feels that way. It's almost impossible to find anyone who thinks Juan Manuel Marquez hasn't deserved the decision at least once. These eyes actually thought Manny eked out and deserved the win in the third fight, but scored each of the first two live for Marquez. Having re-watched them all, there was a case for each man in each fight. The thing is, Marquez doesn't have that "W" yet. I think there is an undercurrent of sympathy because of that, which weighs heavily in Marquez's favor. Could that be offset by some sympathy for Pacquiao given an undeserved loss against Timothy Bradley? Maybe. Note there is little technical thought applied here. These two have done three fights, which all boil down to similar factors. We already know what it looks like. Now, we wait for a conclusion. I don't think we'll get anything definitive. In a case of irony, this fight could end up being the one most feel Pacquiao edged out only to drop the verdict. I don't think Pacquiao can stop Marquez and I don't think he's lucky enough to win another close decision.”
– Cliff Rold (Marquez)
“Fourth time will be the charm for Marquez as he will finally get a much deserved decision over Manny Pacquiao. Marquez has aged like wine and with him being better adjusted to 147 pounds, I like his chances. I believe we will definitely see a more aggressive Pacquiao and will see one of his better outings in recent memory. It will all make for a very exciting fight but Marquez's skill will offset Manny's explosiveness and speed. In a Fight of the Year candidate where someone is sure to taste the canvas, I see Marquez finally getting the nod. Marquez UD”
– Luis “JUANce And For All” Sandoval (Marquez)
“A great rivalry and a toss-up! Each time I'm picking Manny to win over Marquez, I order myself a huge load of problems. But, nevertheless, Pacquiao has never lost to Marquez officially. My feeling is that this time will be no different. It will be a fight between a dynamic boxer-puncher and a dangerous counterpuncher with even chances to succeed. However, being greatly misjudged in his latest fight will motivate the Filipino Pride to dig deep and to summon all the best in him. It should be enough to deal Marquez another loss, and chances are low that Manny will drop two in a row.”
– Alexey Sukachev (Pacquiao)
Total: Manny Pacquiao 9, Juan Manuel Marquez 5
The fourth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez headlines a four-fight telecast airing live on HBO PPV (Saturday, 9PM ET/6PM PT, $59.95). Those wishing to order and watch online can do so by visiting Top Rank’s website.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox