By Jake Donovan
There was no shortage of outcry the moment plans were announced for a fourth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Top Rank – who has served as lead or co-promoter for all four editions – expected as much upon revealing to the public.
“Doing a fourth fight, people feel they’ve seen enough. We’ve had three very good, three very exciting fights, so who needs a fourth,” acknowledged Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum during Wednesday’s press conference for this Saturday’s showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Don’t mistake the statement as an admission of exhaustion, however. The veteran carnival barker – whose 81st birthday comes the day after this weekend’s big show – is merely pointing out the initial reaction of most when Part IV first hit the boxing schedule.
Naturally, he and all other parties involved this one will be the best, as well as the one to finally offer what 36 previously rounds couldn’t; a definitive winner.
“I know that Juan Manuel believes he won all three fights and wants to win this fourth by knockout. And I know that Manny Pacquiao, experiencing the fine judging in this town earlier in the year (the controversial points loss to Tim Bradley in the very same area in June), isn’t going to want to leave it in the hands of the judges.”
Pacquiao and his handlers couldn’t agree more with the statement.
“This fight, the fourth fight with Marquez is going to be a good fight,” insisted Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38KO) during his brief time spent behind the microphone. “I believe he worked hard for this fight and that he trains like he needs to prove something. I’m so focused on this fight.”
When it comes to Pacquiao, focus isn’t often the first word that comes to mind. Still, his normally chaotic life was complemented by his fierce level of intensity in the ring, which has led to titles in a record eight weight divisions.
Recent years have revealed a fading spark, however. Pacquiao hasn’t scored a knockout in more than three years, when he stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th and final round of their Nov. ’09 bout. Five straight fights have since went to the scorecards, with just one official knockdown scored on his part, dropping Shane Mosley in the third round of their dull 12-round affair last May.
The third entry with Marquez last November was the only fight of the previous three to not feature any knockdowns. Pacquiao had floored Marquez a total of four times in their previous two fights, but couldn’t put a dent in his rival’s armor last year in taking a controversial majority decision.
So little separating the two between the previous three fights should be enough motivation to step it up a notch on Saturday. Add to the equation Pacquiao entering the fight on the heels of his first official loss in more than seven years, and it is believed by his team that the Pacquiao of old will arrive this weekend and bringing long-sought closure to this series.
“Thirty-six rounds for these guys isn’t enough,” insists Jeng Gacan, Pacquiao’s political chief of staff. “But not to contradict myself, 48 rounds will be too much. This rivalry will never reach 48 rounds. Especially in a fight like this, where both fighters believe they won the previous 36 rounds.”
Gacan’s role on Team Pacquiao is normally reserved to politics. Pacquiao – with Gacan’s assistance, mixed with his own popularity – secured a victory in the 2010 Congressional race in his native Philippines. The boxing legend is up for re-election next year, which many can interpret as yet another distraction to add to the constant chaos that seems to follow Pacquiao everywhere he goes.
However, it was clarified at the podium that until his next fight in the ring is announced, there’s only one opponent to worry about between now and next year’s election.
“Manny Pacquiao will run unopposed for reelection in 2013,” informed Gacal. “There is no opponent there, so his eyes are fixed only on Juan Manuel Marquez.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com Follow Jake on Twitter:@JakeNDaBox