Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV: Is Manny Returning to Old Form?

| by Alex Groberman

Manny Pacquiao hasn’t looked like his old self in a long time. After he handed down a ridiculously lopsided beating to Miguel Cotto in 2009, his opponents began to take a very interesting approach when fighting him – they ran. Beginning with Joshua Clottey and ending with Shane Mosley, the strategy for fighting Pacquiao quite clearly became: bob, duck, weave and pick up a hefty paycheck on your way out of the ring. Because his opponents spent so much time avoiding him, Pacquiao could never seem to showcase the sort of dominance he had exhibited prior to that Cotto bout.

In November of 2011, when he fought Marquez for the third time, Pacquiao experienced a slightly different struggle. Marquez didn’t run from the Filipino champ. Quite the opposite, actually – he brought the fight to Pacquiao. Be it because nobody had challenged him in so long, or because Marquez just poses certain inherent stylistic disadvantage – Marquez clearly caught his foe by surprise. Pacquiao ultimately won the decision, but a lot of people felt as though he shouldn’t have.

This past June, against Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao was obviously the winner when it was all said and done. Boxing was embarrassed (yet again) when two inept judges handed Bradley that undeserved victory. That said, the wrong final judgment doesn’t change the fact that Pacquiao should have knocked Bradley out. The latter fighter was hobbled, tired, and in over his head – he was practically begging to be put out of his misery. For whatever reason, though, Pacquiao couldn’t pull the trigger.

For his next fight, a Dec. 8 showdown against Marquez, Pacquiao pledged to prove that he can still knock his foes out. That he does still have that special quality that made him the top pound-for-pounder in the world just a few years ago. To do all that, though, he has had to commit himself to training harder than ever. And according to a recent interview Alex Ariza gave to the Manila Bulletin – all the training is paying off.

Ariza told the Manila Standard that on Saturday, Pacquiao’s sixth day of sparring, he “was amazing.”

Ariza said Pacquiao sparred eight rounds, three with the Russian sparring partner, whom he had earlier described as “a beast,” and five with longtime sparring partner Raymund Beltran.

Asked to assess Pacquiao’s performance after two weeks, Ariza said “on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give him a 10, but I hate doing that because I don’t want to set myself up since I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next two weeks.”

He  emphasized that even Pacquiao vowed to regain his old, explosive self.

“He wants to be the old Manny Pacquiao, we’ve seen in the old Manny the resiliency. This is a different Manny for sure.”

Is the ‘old’ Manny Pacquiao really going to return on Dec. 8? We’ll all find out together.

Ed. Note: Are you interested in seeing some really cool photos of Manny Pacquiao while he’s doing his thing? Well, Howard Schatz, one of the nation’s most renowned photographers, has a new book out featuring amazing images of 70 champion boxers including: Manny Pacquiao, Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez, Bernard Hopkins, Tim Bradley, Wladimir Klitschko, and many others. It’s definitely worth a glance. Check out more information about the book over here.

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