In what might be the most eagerly awaited fight of 2011, Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2) will defend his WBO welterweight title against Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1), in just 10 days, at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 12, in what should be the final installment of their classic battles.
The trilogy began in 2004 when the bout ended in a draw, and continued in 2008, with Pacquiao winning in a split decision. Neither fighter gave a convincing performance, so this time around, both have a score to settle.
Pacquiao goes into the fight as a 7.5-to-1 favorite over Marquez, and the Filipino icon has been the clear winner in all seven of his bouts since his last battle with Marquez.
On the other side, Marquez has won his last three fights, but it wasn't against elite competition. Likar Ramos, Michael Katsidis, and Juan Diaz are not considered amongst the best pound-for-pound boxers, and Pacquiao probably owns that title.
A natural lightweight, Marquez goes into the fight with added bulk, as footage has shown the 38-year-old's training regimen in Mexico has produced an impressive physique to reach the 144-pound catch weight. However, Alex Ariza, Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach, believes Marquez's ripped body would hurt the Mexican star.
Muscles don't win fights, said Ariza.
Still, Marquez goes into the fight with a great deal of confidence, and the shirt he wore around the Philippines that read Marquez beat Pacquiao twice! probably means he's taking this fight very seriously.
The people will see another war, said Marquez. The people will see another great fight because I prepared myself very hard. I look for the victory.
I'll have the greatest career as soon as I beat him, he said.
While Ariza believes muscles don't win fights, his boxer has been training at such a high pace that Pacquiao is being cautioned to not over-train. It is very clear that Pacquiao has a great deal of interest in maintaining his reputation as the best boxer in the world, and feels his bouts with Marquez are blemishes on his record.
Unlike his last fight, against Sugar Shane Mosely, Pacquiao goes into the fight with extra motivation. He wants to prove that he is a better boxer than he was in 2004 and 2008, and by punishing Marquez it will send the message that he is deserving of all the praise that he has generated.
The mild-mannered Pacquiao has not been doing much talking, but his camp has.
I've never seen him as motivated as I have for this fight, said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's famed trainer, according to AFP. Marquez went to the Philippines and embarrassed him, said a few things. That has pushed him to work harder in training camp.
Manny Pacquiao is on fire right now. He's training very well. He has a little spark.
Ariza predicted a knockout that would be earlier than you think, and claims that Pacquiao is a more complete fighter now with much more speed, power, and explosiveness.
Pacquiao and Mayweather go into the fight with similar measurements. Pacquiao, 32, is 5'6.5 with a 67-inch reach. Marquez is six years older, and is 5'7 and also has a 67-inch reach. Pacquiao, however, fights in a southpaw stance, while Marquez fights in an orthodox stance.
The elephant in the room is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. The WBC welterweight champion thoroughly dominated his Sept. 2009 bout with Marquez, and the major payday with Pacquiao is still a major possibility despite what many detractors say.