By Rick Reeno
Eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38KOs) has officially made up his mind, according to the boxer's adviser Michael Koncz.
Pacquiao has selected his Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39KOs) as the opponent of choice for December 8th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. HBO Pay-Per-View will carry the event.
This will be the fourth meeting between the two boxers. All three of their previous meetings have ended with controversy. They fought to a controversial draw in 2004. Pacquiao won a controversial twelve round split decision in their 2008 rematch. Last November, they met for a third time - and Pacquiao won a controversial twelve round majority decision.
This past June, it was Pacquiao on the receiving end of a controversial verdict, when he lost a highly disputed split decision to Timothy Bradley.
Initially, Pacquiao was presented with three options for his fall ring return - a rematch with Bradley, a fourth meeting with Marquez, and a rematch with Miguel Cotto.
After Cotto took a pass and finalized a deal to fight Austin Trout in December - Pacquiao's choices were down to two.
Pacquiao and Koncz felt Marquez was the best available opponent.
BoxingScene.com: What was the main factor in selecting a fourth meeting with Marquez instead of a rematch with Bradley?
Koncz: It's very simple. Manny wants to put on an entertaining show for the fans. We know that we have the Filipino fans, the whole country, but we also know we have a large following of Mexican fans. Mexicans are tremendous boxing people. I've been in Mexico with him on two vacations. He's loved and respected over there.
We were hurt a little bit at the last Marquez fight, when we heard the booing and stuff. So we know that we lost some of our Mexican fans. Back to the entertainment aspect of it, this is the only fight available to us at this time - that we can give the best entertainment dollar to the fans - is with Marquez. [We] won't [be able to provide] the same entertainment value to the fans if we fight Bradley. The other reason we chose Marquez is that we want to win back some of the Mexican fans that we lost in the last Marquez fight.
BoxingScene.com: During the promotion for the Bradley fight, Pacquiao told me that he underestimated Marquez a little bit - because Marquez was moving up in weight by nearly two divisions.
Koncz: We are not taking anything away from Marquez. For Marquez 3, he was in tremendous shape. He surprised me a little bit. He was in great physical condition and he did great in the ring. We also know that we had problems. We're not making excuses, but there were a lot of personal problems that I don't want to discuss. But Manny knows and I know that he wasn't 100%. And that's why we're not blaming fans for booing us in that fight. He did not give the performance that he could have gave.
BoxingScene.com: Was there ever any consideration to bypass a year-end fight and maybe roll the dice on a potential Mayweather fight in early 2013?
Koncz: We talked about it, Manny and I, but Floyd has his agenda and he has a right to make his decisions on his timeframe and we respect that. On the other hand, we don't want to sit idle either. Some boxers can sit for months at a time and not be affected by that. I think Manny needs to be active to stay on top of his game.
BoxingScene.com: The motivation for both in the fourth meeting.
Koncz: I think, and I really believe, that both fighters want this trilogy to end with an exclamation mark. I really believe both fighters want this to end without the judges having a hand in it. I think both of these guys want this trilogy to end with one guy knocking the other guy out.
BoxingScene.com: Were you surprised with Miguel Cotto's decision to turn down a Pacquiao rematch?
Koncz: Boxers know when they've met their match, so to speak. Manny did not beat Cotto....Manny destroyed Cotto. When Floyd fought Cotto he beat him.....convincingly he beat him. But we humiliated Miguel Cotto. We made him take knees, we battered him, he was bleeding all over the place - and I think boxers know when they've hit a wall...when they go up against somebody that for whatever reason - speed, counter-punching, power - they can never match it no matter what they do. Cotto is the one who goes in the ring and puts his life on the line in every fight, so he has the right to make his decisions. But I believe that [beating] has a lot to do with his decision for not fighting Manny. He was our first choice. I don't know if I've ever said that before, but Cotto was our first choice.