The one hope Juan Manuel Marquez no doubt secretly had when he agreed to a November 12 showdown versus Manny Pacquiao was that the latter wouldn’t be as good as he had been over the last two years.
Keep in mind, despite the storied battles these two men have had, you can very easily make the case that Pacquiao didn’t become the Pacquiao we know today until after the pair faced off for the second time in 2008. It was after Marquez that the Filipino champion pummeled the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and so on and so forth. It was after Marquez that trainer Freddie Roach finally tattooed the importance of technique, positioning and body control into the mind of his favorite fighter.
So, for all intents and purposes, the guy that Marquez hadn’t been able to beat in 2004 and four years later in 2008, is even better in 2011. Pacquiao has more than made up for the little, tiny bit of athleticism that he’s lost over the last few years with the way he’s blossomed into a mature, complete fighter.
The thing that probably gave Marquez hope, though, was Pacquiao’s last match. You know, that embarrassment of a bout versus ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley. Over the course of that fight, the Filipino champion tried his hardest to chase Mosley around the ring, to engage him, to legitimately fight him – but it was to no avail. Mosley had his heart set on going out like punk, on securing one last final payday at the expense of some hard hits from Pacquiao and one huge blow to his legacy.
And he succeeded.
Mosley didn’t get too badly hurt, he collected a ton of dough and, best of all, he didn’t let Pacquiao embarrass him. In fact, the Filipino champion, because he wasn’t really able to show his stuff, looked kind of off against Mosley. He didn’t look like the same fighter he had been over the prior two years.
Even though it was Mosley running around the ring that ended up translating in Pacquiao being unable to deliver significant damage, the slightly less effectiveness that the latter exhibited probably gave Marquez a bit of hope.
Maybe Pacquiao had lost a step. Maybe he was no longer the same fighter.
Well, nobody can say with certainty whether or not that’s true until we see what transpires on Saturday. If Roach’s words the video below is any indication, though, it’s probably safe to say that Marquez slightly mis-judged the situation.
According to Roach, Pacquiao is still at the top of his game.
Translation: Watch out, Marquez.