Manny Pacquiao will head into his fourth and final showdown versus Juan Manuel Marquez riding something of a cold streak. Last November, in a match-up that a lot of people presumed wouldn’t even be close, he earned a very narrow, very controversial victory over Marquez. Then, this past June, the Filipino champ suffered his first defeat in more than seven years when he fell to Timothy Bradley.
Now, before proceeding, obviously there are certain footnotes from both bouts that need to be addressed.
For instance, even though a lot of people felt as though Pacquiao didn’t deserve his last victory over Marquez, a lot of people of people felt as though he did deserve it, too. There was no general consensus. The stats painted an equally blurry picture. Marquez landed fewer total punches at a higher efficiency, but Pacquiao landed more power punches at a higher efficiency. The Filipino champ also threw more total punches, which does say something about his aggressiveness and tenacity throughout.
On the flip side, Pacquiao’s loss to Bradley left no room for ambiguity. He was robbed – plain in simple. He landed more total punches and more power punches, and he did both at a higher efficiency. There was no justification whatsoever for that end result, regardless of what spin some folks have tried and continue to try to put on the situation.
Either way, though, it doesn’t matter how we got here – we’re here. Nearly a year after heading into his third fight versus Marquez as a heavy favorite, Pacquiao comes into the fourth showdown with a noticeably less impressive odds. (Last time, he was listed anywhere from from -700 to -1200 in some sportsbrooks. This time, he’s at -400.) Obviously events from the past year have eroded the confidence that oddsmakers have in the Filipino champ.
As we’ve learned over the past 12 months, however – nothing is etched in stone. A lot of the same people who wrongly believed that Pacquiao would destroy Marquez last time are now preparing to bury him. Things change that quickly.
Twelve months from now, if he beats Marquez and then maybe Floyd Mayweather Jr., perhaps the same people will anoint him as the greatest of all time again.
That's how this stuff goes.
Pacquiao can change a lot of minds over the next year, but he has to do it starting Dec. 8.
Stay tuned, it’s going to be an interesting ride.