Manny Pacquiao’s next big decision won’t just impact him and his overall legacy, it will also have serious ramifications for one of this generation’s most underrated fighters: Juan Manuel Marquez.
When news of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s 90-day jail sentence initially broke, the immediate reaction was mostly directed towards what it meant for a potential showdown between Pacquiao and Mayweather. As we noted on Opposing Views, though, concerns relating to this matter were completely and totally misplaced. All the jail sentence really meant for the probable dream match was that it officially wouldn’t occur in May 2012 as most insiders had been saying it wouldn’t for a long time; rather, it would likely happen in November 2012.
The real question everyone should have had when Mayweather’s 90-day jail sentence first came to light was: who will Pacquiao fight in May 2012?
As we reported earlier this week, there are currently a lot of discussions being had within Pacquiao’s camp regarding what the plan of attack should be next year in anticipation of the late-year bout with Mayweather that lays on the horizon. Should the Filipino champion fight an opponent that won’t wear his body down too much before arguably the biggest match of his career? Should he fight someone whose style resembles Mayweather’s? Should he throw caution to the wind and just fight the best available opponent? Or, should he just not mix it up with anyone at all and wait for the big fight?
Bob Arum’s involvement in the process almost guarantees that the last option won’t be a viable one, so we can probably toss that out immediately. Pacquiao will fight someone. The question is, who?
There are differing schools of thought on that as well. Trainer Freddie Roach is fond of Lamont Peterson, who has emerged as an intriguing possible candidate for a bout versus the people's champ. Arum, of course, leans more towards Timothy Bradley who insiders say he has wanted to pair up in a bout with Pacquiao ever since signing him to Top Rank a few months back.
And then there is Marquez.
Marquez is an interesting potential opponent for Pacquiao because he has already fought him three times and officially lost two of those matches. The first bout was a memorable draw, but one that many argue should have been a Pacquiao victory. The last one, in turn, was a controversial Pacquiao win that many argue should have gone to Marquez.
Recently rumors have begun to trickle out of Pacquiao’s camp that many of his stable mates don’t want to see him fight Marquez. Apparently, the general logic behind not fighting Marquez for a fourth time is that Marquez is Pacquiao’s Achilles heel – plain and simple. Folks just think that Pacquiao is tempting fate one too many times by giving Marquez this many chances to beat him when, really, there is nothing to gain from doing it.
Plus, can you imagine if Marquez takes down Pacquiao in the fight before he’s due to take on Mayweather? That will sink the value of the dream match faster than just about anything.
Marquez realizes this and, recently, made a very passionate plea for a fight against Pacquiao. As noted by Abac Cordero of the Philippine Star, here is what Marquez had to say on the matter in a recent Mexican television interview:
“If it’s not him (Pacquiao), it’s nobody else. I’ll retire,” Marquez said.
In the same interview, Marquez wasn’t shy about expressing his disgust regarding what he perceived as him being slighted by the judges back on that fateful November 12 night.
“Things like this make you want to retire from the sport. I love boxing, but this is disgusting,” Marquez was also quoted as saying.
“Even Bob Arum realized that when I got up at the press conference, he told me, ‘It’s business’... I didn’t slap him, because he is already old. I’m a respectful person, but I got so pissed when he said, ‘It’s business.’”
And, as is in his nature, Marquez closed out his last-ditch plea for a fight in style:
“You can have the money. Just give me the win,” he said.
The truth of the matter is, there is a very strong case to be made for Marquez deserving a fourth shot at Pacquiao. He has legitimately challenged the Filipino champion (even in his advanced age) more than anyone in recent memory and that alone qualifies him for a chance at redemption. Unfortunately, the obvious question then becomes: what’s in it for Pacquiao? Marquez clearly has his number more than arguably any boxer he’s ever faced, so what does Pacquiao have to gain by fighting him?
All of that coupled with Roach pushing for Peterson and Arum’s never-ending quest for long term profit maximization make the prospect of a fourth showdown between Pacquiao and Marquez very questionable.
Who knows, though. Maybe Marquez’s plea for a fight will strike a chord with Pacquiao. Maybe it’ll appeal to his sense of pride. Maybe he’ll throw caution to the wind and set out to prove that he truly is better than Marquez, once and for all.
Time will tell.
One thing is for certain though: if Marquez doesn’t get a fourth shot at Pacquiao, it certainly won’t be for a lack of trying.