By Jake Donovan
A massive crowd gathered in Mexico City late Friday morning for the final leg of the three-city press tour to promote the December 8 showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The reception was in stark contrast to the suggestion that the fourth meeting between the two is an exhausted extension of their series.
Little separation has been offered over the course of the 36 rounds shared in the ring by the two future Hall of Fame superstars. Pacquiao is officially 2-0-1 in the series, having scored four knockdowns (three in the first fight, one in the second).
However, their third fight created the most controversy yet as Pacquiao was awarded a majority decision in a fight most believed should have went the other way.
Marquez (54-6-1, 39KO) believes to this day that he was thoroughly robbed in last November’s affair. Though both fighters have been cordial throughout the promotion, the Mexican star didn’t attempt to mask his feelings during the press event in his hometown.
“Thank you Manny Pacquiao for accepting the fourth fight, because they stole the last one from me in November,” stated Marquez to his throng of supporters in attendance. “It’s an honor to fight Pacquiao. I want to prove who is the best. I have done so on three occasions and here comes the fourth."
Marquez’ only other losses since first meeting – and fighting to a draw – with Pacquiao way back in 2004 have come against a pair of unbeaten fighters, Chris John and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. The loss to John came on the road in Indonesia, with a strong case to be made that Marquez was robbed.
The loss to Mayweather is one of just two clear cut losses, the other coming in his pro debut. Marquez accepted the Mayweather fight at a catchweight, though unwillingly agreed to a very late change for the fight to take place at a modified weight once the returning pound-for-pound superstar decided he couldn’t get down to 144 lb.
A catchweight was also in place for November’s challenge against Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38KO), though both fighters came under the agreed-upon 143 lb. limit. The bout was still fought for Pacquiao’s alphabet welterweight title fight, with the first two fights fought for the lineal featherweight and super featherweight championships, respectively.
The fourth fight on December 8 will be the lone entry in the series in which no belt is at stake. It doesn’t at all matter to Marquez, who seeks nothing more than an official victory and closure.
“I want to advise Manny Pacquiao to prepare well, because I am going to win for the fourth time," Marquez promises.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox