There are few sports figures as recognizable as Bert Sugar.
With his trademark fedora and cigar, Sugar is considered among the most respected boxing historians, and one of the sharpest minds to ever cover the sport. The Washington, D.C.-native is the former publisher and editor of Boxing Illustrated and The Ring, and has been covering boxing for decades. When documentarists produce a retrospective on a past fight, they almost always turn to Sugar for analysis.
With Saturday night's Manny Pacquiao - Juan Manuel Marquez III fight about to take place, International Business Times spoke exclusively with the Hall-of-Fame writer to get his thoughts on the welterweight title fight in Las Vegas.
Ilich: What are your thoughts about the Pacquiao-Marquez fight?
Sugar: You've got to favor Manny Pacquiao, but not at the odds, 9-1, which is an over-raise. Marquez is one hell of a fighter. Yes, he took a beating from Floyd Mayweather, but that was the fight in which Mayweather paid $18,000 as a fine just to come in over-weight. Marquez is one great fighter, and you don't make him a 9-1 underdog. [Make him] a 4-1 underdog. But Pacquiao is such a great fighter -- probably the greatest fighter I have seen in his style, at in his weight class, since a fighter back in the 1930's, Henry Armstrong.
Pacquiao is busy. Pacquiao swarms you. Pacquiao is just unstoppable. He is hittable, but he's unstoppable. And he is one of the phenomenons I have seen in the last decade.
Ilich: What do you believe Marquez's strategy will be?
Sugar: Hit [Pacquiao] with right hands. That's the only thing [Pacquiao] is vulnerable to -- that, and maybe a baseball bat to the groin.
Ilich: Do you think there is a possibility that Pacquiao could be overly aggressive and open himself up to being hit, which would allow Marquez to take advantage and perhaps surprise Pacquiao with a knockout?
Sugar: Not surprising him with a knockout, but surprising him, yes. Marquez is a great fighter, and he is woefully under-played. No, I don't see [Marquez] knocking him out. He has only not had wins against Marquez, and against no-names in the beginning of his career, which could happen in the Philippines ... some fighters lose their first fights.
I think Marquez can surprise him.
Freddie Roach is probably the best trainer out there today. Pacquiao grows mentally, and it's why Pacquiao grows as a gifted fighter with every fight. It's because of Freddie Roach, and it's going to show on Saturday night.
Ilich: What are the concerns from the Pacquiao camp?
Sugar: They know how good Marquez is. They know they can't underestimate him. They know he isn't a stepping stone. All things considered, this is going to be a hell of a fight, and not the one-sided fight people think it's going to be.
Ilich: What is your prediction?
Sugar: I think Pacquiao [wins] in a stoppage in the 11th Round. But then again, I picked Japan in World War II, so what the hell do I know?
Ilich: Thanks, Mr. Sugar.