For the third time, Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2), perhaps the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, and Juan Manuel Marquez, (53-5-1) a veteran fighter who has given Pacquiao two excellent bouts, will battle it out as welterweights when they meet at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 12, 2011.
With a megabout and major payday with Floyd Mayweather Jr. looming, Pacquiao will be considered the slight favorite next month, as the hard puncher is regarded by many as an almost unstoppable force.
However, Marquez has proven against Pacquiao, and other opponents, that he is among the best pound-for-pound boxers alive, as well. His last loss was to Mayweather in a unanimous decision in September 2009. In that bout, Marquez was knocked down after he walked into a Mayweather left hook, but the Mexican was able to go the distance. Obviously, knockdowns are not enough to damage Marquez's confidence, as evident with his two fights with Pacquiao.
Recently, Marquez told Examiner.com that he and Pac-Man have a rivalry, but that there is no bad blood between the two.
The bout won't be a grudge match between the two prize fighters, but there is certainly a score to settle.
The first fight was in May 2004, when the boxers were featherweights, and it turned out to be perhaps the best fight of that year. Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the first round. The rest of the fight seemed to favor Marquez, who battled back with more power punches, as noted by CompuBox, and did an admirable job of minimizing the aggressive style of Pacquiao.
The bout ended in a draw, so Pacquiao's first round knocked downs were the difference of the fight. Marquez's ability to fight back after the knockdowns proved to the boxing public that he has a fierce competitive spirit.
The second fight took place in March 2008, and this time the boxers were super featherweights at 130 pounds. Much like the first fight, Pacquiao's success stemmed from a knockdown. When the Filipino legend floored Marquez in the the third round, it served as a major factor on the scorecards.
Once again, Marquez battled back, and appeared to edge Pacquiao in the final rounds. Though the fight ended in a split decision victory for Pacquiao, many believe that Marquez deserved a slim victory.
For the upcoming fight, both fighters will probably need to make adjustments based on their past efforts.
Pacquiao will need to try to win rounds, and not expect Marquez to lose confidence if, or when, he gets knocked down. Pacquiao will also have to focus more on his defense. Marquez has proven that he can land straight rights when Pacquiao opens himself up, which is often.
Though Pacquiao has been extremely successful with his past strategy, he can't possibly expect that he can rest solely on his power punches to defeat Marquez. Pacquiao will likely try to out-box Marquez, but he can still do that by using his jab, and stay in position after he throws his lefts. When he leaves his body exposed, Marquez will take advantage, so Pacquiao can dominate the fight if he uses his upper-body movement. Pacquiao's strength is his great asset, and can expect to find openings if he keeps jabbing, and then surprise Marquez with a well-timed power punch.
Marquez will need to return to his strategy of going to a counter-punch, knowing that Pacquiao will not deviate from his aggressive style. Aware the Pacquiao can be caught off balance, Marquez has to be more patient to land body punches, which he failed to properly utilize in the other two bouts, despite his corner's insistence. If Marquez can't throw off Pacquiao's rhythm, or if he tries to out-box Pacquiao, he will be in for a long night.
What Marquez should certainly try to do is avoid taking risks. If he can hold off a Pacquiao combination, and not hit the mat early, Marquez has a legitimate chance of winning the fight in a decision. Pacquiao has a solid chin, so Marquez can win rounds by a combined strategy of going to uppercuts to the body, and straight punches. Marquez is a smart fighter, and if he boxes a very technical fight, and survive the opening rounds, Marquez has a reasonable chance of pulling off the victory.
One reason that this should make for a great fight, aside from the past bouts, is the fact that the two are basically even in height and reach, and neither has a legitimate advantage in any specific category.
The much-anticipated bout is just a month away -- it has the makings of another classic.