Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have talked a big game over the past few months. Each one has insisted that, because of a mutual distrust for judges and how bouts are scored, they will aim to knock the other out this Saturday.
It’s not going to happen.
We’ve seen Pacquiao and Marquez do battle for 36 rounds. We’ve seen thousands of punches exchanged. We’ve seen multiple knockdowns. We have a good body of work to base our predictions for this match-up on. Is there anything in that body of work that leads anyone with any knowledge of how these two fight to believe that this thing could realistically end in a knockout?
Of course not.
Pacquiao and Marquez are promising knockouts because it sounds good.
"I am looking for the knockout," Marquez told BBC World Service recently. "I have trained really hard and I feel ready.”
And then, because having a reason for why you’re predicting a knockout makes it more palatable, Marquez added this: "I am looking for the knockout because the judges gave another decision [when they last met]. I need to do a perfect fight."
Let’s be clear: needing a knockout is not a reason for someone getting a knockout. Needing a knockout is just that, a need. Being a heavy puncher, being more accurate, being stronger – those are actual reasons why fighters end bouts early. Marquez needed a knockout in two prior showdowns, too. That didn’t manifest itself into him actually earning one.
Pacquiao, for his part, has backed off the notion that he will knock Marquez out. He wants to fight a good fight. He wants to be aggressive. He wants to make it clear that he deserves the victory. But he also understands that there is a reason why he hasn’t recorded a knockout since 2009. Moreover, it’s also no accident that he couldn’t put a hobbled, beaten down Timothy Bradley out of commission last June. That part of his arsenal doesn’t exist anymore.
And that’s fine, by the way. It’s perfectly fine to be a great fighter who can’t knock his foes out – there are other ways to win matches.
"He doesn't respect the decisions of the judges, so he needs to prove something Saturday," Pacquiao told the Los Angeles Times. "But we expect to be more aggressive than ever, and I'm better prepared for the battle when it happens.”
See? More aggressive. Better prepared. Etc. No phone promises of knockout.
In the end, Amir Khan provided the best prediction for this match I’ve heard thus far:
“The first 5 rounds will tell us who will win the fight. I don't think there will be a knockout," he told FightHype. "I think it'll go the distance again because they both know exactly what to expect, but I reckon Manny will take it."
Final prediction time: who wins this and will it end via knockout?