By Chris Robinson
After much uncertainty regarding Manny Pacquiao's return to the ring, it looks like we might be back where we first started, with Mexico City's Juan Manuel Marquez having the edge for another crack at the Filipino icon inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 10th.
Pacquiao edged Marquez via a highly-debatable majority-decision last November in another tense battle that could have gone either way, as was the case in their first two duels.
Pacquiao surrendered his WBO welterweight crown to unbeaten Timothy Bradley on June 9th in a fight he appeared to clearly win despite dropping a split-decision, and despite having a strong desire to avenge that defeat, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has constantly hinted that a rematch doesn't make economical sense at this point.
So, with Pacquiao-Marquez IV possibly around the corner, I picked the brains of some boxing luminaries on that exact bout during a visit to the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas this past Friday.
Giving his take on the bout, former world title challenger Kofi Jantuah (32-4-1, 21 KO's), known best for his chilling one-punch knockout over Marco Antonio Rubio eight years ago, seemed to have mixed feelings.
"Not necessarily, but it's another event, another fight to see," said the Ghanaian bruiser when asked it he would anticipate such a scenario. "The two of them got something together, so I think it's going to be an interesting fight again. They fought three times already and they both know each other very well. I don't know why they have to do it a fourth time."
In the eyes of J'Leon Love, an undefeated middleweight prospect (12-0, 7 KO's) who is eyeing a September 8th return at the nearby Hard Rock Hotel, he finds it hard to have enthusiasm for another Marquez encounter.
"I don't want to see that, man," Love stated, shaking his head. "I'm not interested in that. There's so many other good guys out here. Don't get me wrong, Marquez is a great fighter. The first two were exciting, even the third one, where I thought Marquez pulled it off. People, at least me, I'm not too big on it anymore."
If junior middleweight contender Ishe Smith (23-5, 11 KO's) had his way, he would prefer to see Pacquiao go for revenge against Bradley instead of another Marquez meeting.
"How many times are they going to fight?" asked Smith, who is also eyeing a return on the September 8th Hard Rock show. "Even though a lot of people think he won the fight already, I think he should fight Timothy Bradley. I think people are tired of seeing Marquez."
The controversy surrounding the first Bradley fight doesn't deter Smith's line of thinking in the slightest.
"Just because he beat you," Smith responded, pointing to Pacquiao's loss on the scorecards. "No matter if it was a robbery or not, you avenge that loss."
Former light heavyweight champion and current-day trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad still seems slightly intrigued by a fourth meeting but also admits that nothing coming from the judges would surprise him at this point.
"It's a two-way situation," said Muhammad. "I've seen that show and again, I'm still very well interested. But, one thing that has me puzzled is if Marquez wins it fair and square, will he get it?
"Because, we all know what the politics of boxing involves," Muhammad continued. "We just saw Manny Pacquiao win at least nine or ten rounds in his last fight and they gave it to Bradley. To me, it's gotten to a point in boxing where we're in the Wild Wild West. Whatever goes, goes. That's the bottom line."