It’s a given that Manny Pacquiao will beat Juan Manuel Marquez when they meet on November 12 in Las Vegas. The only question on everyone’s mind at this point is: just how badly will Pacquiao beat him?
A lot of factors have to be taken into account when discussing this fight. For one, the history involved. This, of course, is the third and final meeting between Pacquiao and Marquez – two fighters who have established quite the storied past with one another in and out of the ring.
Back in 2004 when the pair clashed the first time, they left more questions unanswered by the time the match ended than there had been when the match began. The bout concluded in a draw, but both men -- particularly Pacquiao, who had been wronged by judges in their scoring -- felt as though they had been victimized and deserved to have won the match.
In 2008, when Pacquiao and Marquez met for a second time, all of the questions were supposed to be answered. No more incorrectly tabulated score sheets, no more doubt. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Despite the fact that Marquez fought a more thorough match than his counterpart statistically, the judges ruled in favor of Pacquiao – thus creating another firestorm of controversy.
In the aftermath of that second clash, Marquez and Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer immediately demanded a third bout to settle the debate of who was better once and for all. Pacquiao and his team rebuffed the overtures made by the other side, however – citing that they had proven what they needed to prove and were done with Marquez. Not even Marquez’s misguided trips to the Philippines could change anyone’s minds.
Now, in 2011, after Pacquiao had firmly and undeniably established himself as one of the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, he finally agreed to give Marquez a shot at redemption. The fight that everyone wanted to see three years prior got a green light from all parties involved.
Only it shouldn’t have.
The Pacquiao that is slated to step into the ring on November 12 is a much different man than the one who got a tough battle from Marquez back in ’08. This version of the Filipino champion, Pacquiao 2.0 if you will, has left a trail of mangled boxers and careers in his rearview starting with Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, and ending with the ghost of “Sugar” Shane Mosley. In fact, Pacquiao latest victim in Mosley was pummeled so painstakingly in their match, that at one point, he begged for his corner to throw in the towel.
Beginning with the De La Hoya fight that occurred nine months after his controversial win over Marquez, Pacquiao started to dominate his competition in a fashion that hadn’t been seen in boxing for a very long time. Not only did he beat everyone in sight, but he improved with each passing match. He refined his technique, enhanced his aim and perhaps most importantly, dominated his opponents in such a way so that he could preserve his own body and sustain minimal injuries.
As shocking as it may sound, the 2011 Pacquiao is better than the 2008 Pacquiao who some would argue beat Marquez fair and square.
Marquez, meanwhile, has been following the trajectory that most fighters follow as they age. He’s slowed down. He’s not as precise or mechanical against his opponents anymore. And even though he ravaged Likar Ramos in the first round of their recent much -- thus giving some of his supporters the false hope that he could hang with Pacquiao -- the truth is, it was an aberration that couldn’t have come at a worse time. Now, instead of being complacent and underestimating Marquez, Pacquiao will devote his full attention to the man.
Nobody thinks Marquez has a shot in this one. Not Vegas, not the fans, not HBO and probably not even Marquez’s own corner.
In recent months, Marquez has made a few token comments about believing that he can beat Pacquiao, but that’s showmanship more than anything else. In all likelihood, he’s already resigned himself to the fact that he’s going to take the beating, eat the payday like Mosley did before him, and move on to greener pastures.
Here’s to hoping that Marquez isn’t underestimating just how massive of a thumping he’ll have to take in the coming match, though.