Chris Farina/Top Rank
Chris Farina/Top Rank
Chris Farina/Top Rank
The waiting is over. Yesterday’s weigh in was the last hurdle of the highly anticipated fight between Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez. Both fighters were smart enough to come under the catchweight limit of 144 pounds. Juan Manuel Marquez tipped the scales at a rip 142 pounds. Pacquiao came in great shape and weighed in at 143 pounds. I was expecting Marquez to take a page out of Pacquiao’s book which is to come below the weight limit and he did. Although, I would have wanted Marquez to come in at around 140 pounds but he looks good at 142. I hope by fight night he is at 145-146 pounds. I think if Marquez comes in over 146 pounds on fight night, it is going to be a big disadvantage for him. Most likely Pacquiao will weigh no more than 148-49 pounds on fight night.
Boxing fans have been waiting for this fight for the past couple of years. Unfortunately, many boxing fans would have preferred to have the trilogy fight be fought at 140 instead of 144. I actually thought that this time could have been earlier had it not been for the mistake of some boxing matchmakers. It made perfect sense to me when Pacquiao fought Hatton and Marquez fought Diaz in his classic first fight. Had Golden Boy and Top Rank Promotions some how were able to see the potential of a trilogy back in 2009, it would have been a classic way to bring an end to this amazing trilogy. Instead of having Juan Manuel Marquez challenge Manny Pacquiao for his 140 lb belt, boxing fans were caught by surprised when Marquez challenge Mayweather and fought Floyd on September, 2009 while Pacquiao fought Cotto on November, 2009. It was the first time that I had heard a champion (Cotto) agree to a challenger’s request of fighting at 145 pounds instead of the welterweight limit of 147.
Pacquiao’s team could have still made the fight at 140 pounds but did not want to give Marquez any advantage and at first wanted to fight Marquez at 147 pounds. Then they came to their senses and made it at 144 pounds. Both fighters have completely changed with Pacquiao becoming the more improved of the two. Pacquiao has made great progress since his last fight with Marquez. He now has power in his two hands and continues to show amazing lateral movements.
Although, Pacquiao has become a complete fighter, we have not seen any boxer challenge him the way Marquez has. Pacquaio’s opponents don’t have the style that Marquez has and in boxing, styles make fights. Pacquiao benefits from fighters attacking him. When boxers do this, they fall into Manny’s type of fight. On the other hand, we have seen in their previous two fights that Pacquiao has difficulty with Marquez style. I feel that if any fighter is going to be beat Pacquiao is going to be Marquez.
A lot of boxing experts are predicting Manny Pacquiao to have an easy fight against an aging Marquez in a higher weight class. Tonight’s fight is not going to be that easy. I am not counting Marquez out. He is currently one of the most intellingent boxers. I feel Marquez ring intelligence is a big advantage to him. Boxing is Chess with gloves. Marquez is not going to get checkmate. He is going to move the right pieces at the right time.
Many people talk about Pacquiao’s right hand but very few talk about the opportunities that Marquez will create when Pacquiao uses his right hand. I expect to see Marquez work on some combinations’ and counterpunches when Pacquiao uses his right hand. Pacquiao has to be very careful when attacking Marquez. One thing that I have not seen improvements in Pacquiao is his defense. He doesn’t have a great defense. He continues to leave himself open to body shots and continues to tap his gloves when he has been hit. Pacquiao continues to leave himself open to counterpunches and it will be interesting to see how Pacquiao reacts when he is caught by some of Marquez punches. Juan Manuel should not go on lose his focus even if his losing the early rounds. If Marquez shows patience and fights Pacquiao at a distance then we may be seeing another 12 round fight. If Marquez decides to fight Pacquiao inside it will be interesting to see if he will be able to show quick 2-3 combinations and move away. Marquez needs to throw couple of punches and move away. He cannot move forward, try to counter punch Manny without giving Manny different angles. If Marquez is not able to show different angles when counterpunching Pacquiao then the fight is not going to go the distance. The only way I see Marquez winning this fight is by outsmarting Manny, throwing his 2-3 combinations, moving away, and boxing him at a distance. Pacquiao may get frustrated and careless if he feels that he can’t figure out Marquez. This will work to Marquez advantage. Pacquiao cannot afford to make one mistake against a fighter like Marquez. He will take advantage of it. In fact, if any fighter makes a mistake the other will capitalize on it and might prove to be the difference.
On paper this fight should not go the distance with all the advantages pointing to Manny Pacquiao. It will be important what fighter wins the 1st round. That first round will be crucial. It can set the tempo for either fighter. I wonder if Marquez is going to focus on winning what Nacho Beristain calls, “the combat zone,” that small space between both fighters. If Manny ends up stopping Marquez, it might be in the middle rounds. On the other hand, I can see Marquez cutting and hurting Pacquiao towards the late rounds. Marquez can knockout Pacquiao, although no one is expecting Marquez to knocking him out. If that were to happen, I can see Marquez having his best chances between the 9th and 11 round. If the fight is competitive for the full 12 rounds, we may see another split decision fight. I really hope we have good judges if the fight goes the distance.
I am going to go for Marquez via split decision. If Marquez ends up pulling the upset, he will become the legitimate first Mexican boxer to win belts in 4 divisions. Morales won a vacant belt against Pablo Cesar Cano, a fighter rank #12 so to me that doesn’t count. A win against Manny would be the most important win in Marquez’ career. It could open the possibility for a 4th fight, a fight that if Pacquiao accepts, expects to pay Marquez a guaranteed $10 million dollars. Depending on the PPV sales which should hit around 1.7million, I think a 4th fight might interest Top Rank and boxing fans given that the record would be 1-1-1 and the 4th fight will be for all the marbles.