By Jake Donovan
The official stat line in the eight-year rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez shows a 2-0-1 lead in favor of Pacquiao. Many will argue that the number should be reversed, some contending that Marquez won all three bouts.
The one thing that is universally agreed upon is that there is little separation between the two all-time greats, even through 36 rounds of action. It’s entirely possible that we don’t receive a definitive conclusion to the debate following their December 8 showdown at the MGM Grand.
Both fighters have insisted to have their final say in that matter, with each promising a knockout victory to take it out of the judges’ hands.
The similar predictions come with one significant difference: their motivation behind the pick. Pacquiao has vowed to end it early for the sake of entertaining his legion of supporters.
Marquez wants to do it for peace of mind.
“I know that I have to decisively outfight him and the best way to win is to knock him out,” Marquez (54-6-1, 39KO) believes. “I am going to be aggressive in this fight. I won’t go for the knockout right away but if I get the opportunity for the knockout I will go for one. I will fight with aggression but also with intelligence."
The prediction is a bold claim on Marquez’ part, considering his role in the rivalry has been that of the superior boxer. Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38KO) is widely viewed as the bigger puncher of the two, having scored four knockdowns in the series.
Marquez was dropped three times in the opening round of their first meeting in May ’04, which took place at featherweight. Despite the deep hole he dug for himself early on, the Mexican great managed to rally all the way back to fight to a split decision draw.
Four years later, a 4th round knockdown by Pacquiao provided the margin of victory in a 130 lb. championship fight otherwise destined for yet another draw.
No knockdowns were scored in their third meeting last November, which was fought at a maximum catchweight limit of 144 lb. The move up in weight for Marquez – matching his career-high – was believed by many to be a detriment, but the result by night’s end was a majority decision for Pacquiao that was lustily booed by the capacity crowd on hand at the MGM Grand.
Saturday’s contest takes place at the full welterweight limit. Marquez is 0-2 lifetime in any fight above the 140 lb. limit, his lone other loss coming against Floyd Mayweather in Sept. ’09.
Marquez fattened up to 142 lb, while Mayweather – fighting for the first time in 21 months – ignored the previously agreed upon 144 lb. catchweight limit and instead treated the contest as a welterweight fight. The tactic cost him an additional $600,000, but had little bearing on the outcome, which was the most lopsided loss of Marquez’ stellar career.
It was a lesson learned as Marquez properly bulked up for the higher weight limit prior to last year’s bout. Marquez has since scored a wide points win over Sergey Fedchenko in a 140 lb. bout this past April, before eventually agreeing to a fourth fight with Pacquiao.
Despite the 147 lb. limit greater benefitting his naturally bigger opponent, Marquez believes he will still be the stronger, faster and ultimately better of the two by fight night.
“I will take more risks in this fight because I will be more aggressive. In the last two fights I was very aggressive also. I was aggressive with him but I will be much more aggressive. As long as I am more aggressive, I will take more risks.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox