By Nick Tylwalk
Juan Manuel Marquez is in for a third fight, as we knew he would be. Now the ball is in Manny Pacquiao's court.
That's the word from ESPN's Dan Rafael, who reported last night that JMM is all set to face Pacquiao for a third time on November 12, likely at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Marquez will only get to fight Pacquiao if he beats David Diaz on July 2, something he'll be heavily favored to do.
Pacquiao-Marquez III only became a real possibility after Golden Boy decided not to match the the offer Top Rank made to Marquez. I've long thought that Golden Boy might match just to screw with Bob Arum and his team since the two promotional companies are feuding again, but when you read the numbers Rafael throws around ($5 million plus some pay-per-view upside), it's a little more understandable. Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer may hold grudges, but they aren't stupid.
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Pacquiao's team has not presented the terms to him yet but it seems to be pretty much a formality that he'll accept. If not, Zab Judah would be Arum's pick over Timothy Bradley as Pac-Man's next opponent because of the latter's ongoing promotional woes.
Now the only question becomes if the third time will be the charm for JMM. He gave Pacquiao a harder time than anyone in the last six years, but the first fight took place at 126 pounds and the rematch at 130. Round three would have a contracted weight of 144 pounds, and that might be the big hurdle for Marquez.
JMM has fought that heavy just once before, during his lopsided decision loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2009. Floyd was obviously too big and strong for him during that bout, so it makes you wonder why he won't just have the same problem with Manny, who has been fighting above lightweight for each of his last six outings.
There's also the small matter of hitting the canvas, which Marquez has done in two of his last three fights. One would think he'd have to stay upright in order to have a realistic chance of winning.
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This match-up isn't going to sit well with Pacquiao's detractors, who will point out that Marquez is older, easier to hit, and has already come up short twice against the Filipino icon. The truth is, though, that there simply aren't many appetizing possibilities options out there for Team Pacquiao, especially if Mayweather is unwilling and Bradley is unavailable.
And here's something you can take to the bank: There's a 100 percent chance of more action than we saw between Pacquiao and Shane Mosley. JMM just wants this too badly, and he'll go out on his proverbial shield if necessary because he feels he was wronged in the scoring of the first two fights.
Is it ideal? No. But is it watchable? Definitely. That's going to have to do for now.
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