Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will be fighting for more than just pride this December. Both men maintain that they are doing this to cement once and for all who the better boxer is, but that’s a relatively miniscule concern given what is actually on the line. Whether these guys realize it or not, whether it gets mentioned at some point or remains unspoken of, Pacquiao and Marquez will be fighting for something far more significant than one additional victory in the wins column on their next go-round.
They’re going to be fighting to keep their careers alive.
Marquez is 39 years old. His run, particularly over the past few years when everyone thought he was washed up, has been remarkable. His fighting style lends itself perfectly to an elongated career because it doesn’t rely too heavily on speed and athleticism, and in a lot of ways it is the perfect antithesis to the way Pacquiao likes to fight his matches.
And yet, despite the fact that he could probably stay in boxing and fight scrubs for moderately handsome paydays over the next few years regardless of how this fight ends, it’s hard to imagine him doing so. He views this fourth and final showdown against his arch rival, the man he feels as though he should have beaten at least once by now, as his final shot at redemption. If he doesn’t get that redemption, it’s hard to envision him coming back for more.
Interestingly enough, during a recent interview with Boxing Scene, Marquez indicated that he may retire if he beats Pacquiao. That, for obvious reasons, it would be the ideal way to go out.
"I want to knock him out. I know I can do it, although I know that it won't be easy. I want to have my hand raised to prove which of us is the better fighter. I've already beaten him three times and had those victories taken from me. A knockout is the only way to take [the decision] from the judges' hands,” he said.
“If that [knockout] happens, it could be the perfect moment [to retire] but we will see what happens.”
It’s impossible to say right now whether Marquez would really quit or not following a Pacquiao win, but it pretty easy to predict what Pacquiao would do in the event of a loss to Marquez – he would hang up his gloves for good. After getting robbed by a couple of inept judges last June, the Filipino champion has very little patience left for the Sweet Science. His focus on politics and various other aspects of his non-fighting career (and his pretty apparent disinterest in training for his matches) have made it abundantly clear that he is looking towards the future.
As it stands, Pacquiao only has two boxing-related items left on his agenda: Marquez and Floyd Mayweather Jr. That’s it. And if he falls to Marquez this December, a showdown versus Mayweather would be effectively dead. There is no way Manny would stick around to fight nobodies if that were to happen – he has better things to do with his time.
And so, while a lot of people weren't and aren’t particularly enthralled with the prospect of seeing Pacquiao and Marquez fight again, the match-up becomes a little more interesting when you understand the stakes. One way or another, once this bout ends, there is a good chance you won’t ever see one of these fighters ever again.