Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and the Art of Negotiation

Juan Manuel Marquez stunned the boxing community this week when he announced that he would not grant Manny Pacquiao a fifth fight in 2013. It initially seemed all but etched in stone that the pair was slated for a September bout that would put the cherry atop their longstanding rivalry.

Apparently Marquez feels as though that is no longer necessary, though.

While speaking to reporters recently, Marquez offered this terrible justification for why he wouldn’t fight the only fight in the world that makes sense for him right now: "I think for me there is no point [in a fifth fight]. We already achieved the desired result. Then why do it? So I also asked several people, several friends that I have around me and they told me not to do it, that there is no point in a fifth fight. I said before the fourth fight that no matter how this fight ends, there can not be a fifth."

Once you get past the initial shock of a respected veteran presenting the most clear cut and blatant example of ducking in recent memory, the obvious question here has to be: is Marquez bluffing?

He has to be bluffing, right?

It could very well be that Marquez does want to fight Pacquiao one last time, but that he is using the threat of not doing so as a means of leveraging more money, or his pick of the venue, or more favorable pre-fight terms. The biggest giveaway that this might be what’s at work here is comments made by Marquez’s own promoter just one week ago. 

"Juan Manuel Márquez already confirmed to me that he plans to continue [his career] in boxing and [told me] it is necessary to begin to review offers, to see the plans, to begin [the next steps] the following big fight [from last December]. He already spoke with his wife and children, with his family, and they support him in continuing [his career]," Fernando Beltran said.

"The two fighters do not want to pay so many taxes, and yes there is the possibility that it will happen in Macau, which is something that [Top Rank CEO] Bob [Arum] likes. [Arum] will do a show [in Macau] in April and he will see what we can do there and what kind of purses [we can get for the fighters] and other aspects. But there is also the new arena in Mexico City."

Related: Manny Pacquiao to Fight Either Brandon Rios or Robert Guerrero?

So days after Marquez tells Beltran that he is willing to fight Pacquiao, he suddenly changes his mind? It doesn’t make sense.

When it’s all said and done, 2013 will end in one of two ways: 1.) with the boxing community applauding Marquez’s excellent negotiating skills or, 2.) with the boxing community wondering why one of the biggest names of his generation decided to tarnish his legacy to this extent just before he was due to retire.

Which one will it be? We’ll all find out soon enough.

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