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Is Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez Really a Rivalry?

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Are Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez really rivals? After three fights, 36 rounds and God knows how many punches thrown, that admittedly sounds like a loaded question. Just by virtue of the fact that they have fought as many times as they have, it is a rivalry. However, shouldn’t someone actually have to win one of their three matchups against a given foe before they’re crowned an official rival?

Marquez has had three opportunities to beat Pacquiao. Three. He succeeded zero times. You can legitimately make the case for him being robbed three individual times, but robbed for three consecutive matches against the same opponent? Eh...

Yes, the effort that Marquez put forth in the first fight was valiant – there is no denying that. At the same time, there is also no denying that a botched score turned what should have been a Pacquiao win into a draw. On the second go-round, maybe Marquez should have won. Maybe. But it wasn’t definitive enough of a case to make anyone legitimately question the validity of the end result. Last November, the third time they fought, did Pacquiao come up with his worst performance to date? Yes. Was he maybe, possibly given some extra leeway by the judges? Probably. But is it unusual for the defending champion to get an extra nod or two in a bout? Absolutely not.

For all of the talk about how Marquez was robbed and how Pacquiao’s victories over him are undeserved – history tells a different story.

Heading into their fourth (and presumably final) battle, the tenor of discussions surrounding Pacquiao and Marquez is very different. The latter, apparently, has no weight on his shoulders. If you go by media hype, he has nothing to prove. He was robbed last time, and no matter what happens next month, he will emerge unscathed. Conversely, Pacquiao is being treated like the one with something to prove. And in a way that’s right, I suppose. Pacquiao should be the one with something to prove, because he is the one whom people expect more from. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that maybe the coverage surrounding this thing hasn’t been as fair as it should be.

Pacquiao has a lot to prove, sure. To act as though he is the only one with something to prove, though, is wrong.

All things considered, it's probably a bit ridiculous to ask whether Pacquiao versus Marquez is really a rivalry. Obviously it is. But there is no denying that it’s a mighty, mighty strange one.

A mighty, mighty strange one that will come to a (hopefully) thrilling conclusion this December.

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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