Everyone understands what is on the line this December when Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez square off. For the latter, it is one final opportunity to prove that he can be more than just a memorable nemesis. After all, to date, for all the hoopla, Marquez has yet to actually defeat his arch rival. You can say you were robbed once. Maybe twice. But to fight the same opponent four times and still be unable to capture a victory? That is inexcusable.
For Pacquiao, this fight is something different. It’s not about his legacy. Regardless of what happens from now until he retires, the Filipino champion’s legacy is secure. Whether you think he has been the best pound-for-pounder or the second best pound-for-pounder around over the past few years is irrelevant. Just by virtue of being in the discussion, he has left his mark on Sweet Science history. No, for Pacquiao this bout is about the present. He needs a win to prove that he still has it. To prove that his questionable victory last November and his controversial loss to Timothy Bradley were just flukes.
Given what’s at stake, you would think that Pacquiao’s mind and heart would be in his training right now. That he would be eating and sleeping preparation for his next match. Apparently that is not the case, though. According to Bob Arum, the champ has only recently started getting really enthusiastic about his preparation for Marquez.
"The first time I saw him, he looked a little bit sluggish, like he didn't want to be there. It must have been because it was only a few days after arriving from the Philippines." Arum told Brad Cooney of The Examiner.
"The second time I saw him, he looked terrific, just sensational." Arum added, "Pacquiao is bound and determined to knock Marquez out, and Marquez is determined to knock Manny out. That's what makes this an exciting fight."
It’s a bit odd that Pacquiao would even need time to get his head into training given what’s on the line in this one – but it is what it is. What’s important is that he understands now.
Arum is right, Marquez is going to be determined to put Pacquiao on the mat. And as unlikely as that sounds, don’t forget: that the idea of two judges awarding Bradley a win last June seemed equally unfeasible.
Strange stuff happens in the ring.
(Kudos The Examiner)