Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will close the book on their rivalry once and for all this weekend. Regardless of how you feel about the way their three previous bouts ended, there is no denying that Saturday’s match provides all involved a perfect opportunity to set the record straight.
Whoever wins this time around wins – plain and simple.
There can’t be any complaining after the fact. There can’t be any accusations of judges being incompetent. Both men understand that there is only one way to secure victory: via knockout. If either or both fail to secure one, then they are essentially signing away their legacies to the three people who may or may not make the right final call.
For what it’s worth, Pacquiao seems to accept that. While doing press for the upcoming fight, he more or less acknowledged that when you live by the judges’ scorecards, you die by the judges’ scorecards.
“I never complained about the judges,” Pacquiao said (via the Las Vegas Sun).
“The official, that is his job. We are boxers, and our job is to fight in the ring. Whatever the decision, we have to respect that. Even the last fight with Bradley, you never heard from my mouth complaining, and that was a very one-sided fight.”
Marquez, conversely, has complained about judges. A lot. He insists that he won all three of his prior matches against Pacquiao, and that the judges wrongfully robbed him of victory all three times.
That little fact doesn’t sit well with Pacquiao.
“I want to give him a chance to see if he can prove something,” the Filipino champion said.
“If you are claiming you won the fight, the rematch is an opportunity to be aggressive and create action first.”
In their second fight, Marquez famously took his foot off the gas in the end and essentially allowed Pacquiao to steal the match from him. While that final round is what sticks out in most fight fans’ minds, Pacquiao insists that it was actually symbolic of how the entire bout had gone. He believes that he was the more aggressive party throughout, and that Marquez was simply sitting back, waiting to counter him.
Because Pacquiao believes that he has consistently been the more aggressive fighter throughout, he couldn’t help but take one final jab at his arch rival this week.
“We can change by going toe-to-toe and exchange punches,” Pacquiao said.
“He needs to do this because he claims to have won the fight. He just backs off and backs off and waits for the punches of (his) opponent.”
One way or another, this thing is going to get resolved. Aggressiveness. Lack of aggressiveness. Attacking. Countering. Knockouts. Judges decisions. These terms cease to have meaning on Dec. 8. At that point, there are only two words that matter: winner and loser.
During a recent interview with Boxing Scene, Pacquiao’s political chief of staff Jeng Gacan said this:
“Thirty-six rounds for these guys isn’t enough ... 48 rounds will be too much. This rivalry will never reach 48 rounds. Especially in a fight like this, where both fighters believe they won the previous 36 rounds.”
That is the mindset all involved are entering with. Thirty-six round wasn’t enough to determine who the best fighter is; 48 will be too much.
Once and for all, the Pacquiao vs. Marquez debate will be settled in three days.