Pacquiao-Marquez II: Unfinished Business A Can't Miss Like Christmas

By Matthew Aguilar


Pacquiao-Marquez II: Unfinished Business A Can't Miss Like Christmas

There were times when it seemed Juan Manuel Marquez would never reach the greatness for which he seemed destined. There was the 1999 debacle with Freddie Norwood, a clinch-fest so appalling that, by the end of 12 ugly rounds, no one really cared who won.There was the 2005 snoozer with Victor Polo that seemed even more dreadful when compared to the classic that Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo produced in the main event a few hours later.

And there was the 2006 upset loss to unknown Chris John in Indonesia that seemed to announce a disappointing end to a once-promising career.

But, with one upset victory over Mexican countryman Marco Antonio Barrera last March, Marquez’s career was instantly revitalized and placed back on track to greatness.
To reach the final destination, however, “Dinamita” must beat Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao in a rematch of their spectacular 2004 war, Saturday at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas . They will battle for Marquez's WBC junior lightweight title.

It's a fight that could define the careers of both combatants.

We all remember the first Marquez-Pacquiao battle, a featherweight unification to-do on May 8, 2004 that exceeded even the highest of expectations. Marquez found himself on the deck three times in the first round, courtesy of the crippling "Pac-Man" left hand - but somehow found the strength to get up, win most of the next 11 rounds, and garner an unlikely draw.

It was a crushing display of power and physical attributes by Pacquiao, and an impressive show of guts and smarts by Marquez. Some publications called it the best fight of the year.

The rematch could be even better. Why?

Consider that Pacquiao, 45-3-2 (35 knockouts), was reportedly hampered by a calf injury in the original - which may have contributed to his inability to finish Marquez. And he is said to have trained like a madman for the rematch - staying focused and arriving to trainer Freddie Roach's camp on time and ready to rock, which hasn't always been the case.

It's as though the 29-year-old Pacquiao knows his legend is on the line. He will be as prepared as he ever has for a challenge.

Also consider that Marquez, 48-3 1 (35 KOs), at the relatively advanced age of 34, is fighting at his highest level. The Barrera fight showcased his arsenal, as did a November dismantling of the capable Rocky Juarez. It appears as though Marquez has incorporated more power into his formidable boxing technique - the same technique that gave Pacquiao so many fits four years ago. He is confident, well-conditioned and experienced. He, too, is ready.

If history has dictated anything, it's that two fighters in their primes almost always produce fireworks. Hearns-Leonard, Corrales-Castillo I and, most recently, the historic Vazquez-Marquez trilogy. Throw in the fact that Marquez will be fighting for Mexico - Pacquiao has been dubbed the "Mexican Assassin" after his conclusive victories over Barrera and Erik Morales - and this one is as can't-miss as Christmas.

It seems like they could have found an easier way to get here, however. Pacquiao was defeated by Morales in early 2005, and Marquez was bested by John a year later. Both were major upsets. And it didn't appear as though Pacquiao-Marquez 2 had a chance.

But both have rebounded dramatically. Apparently, this fight was destiny. So who wins?

Look for Marquez to box and move away from the Pacquiao left hand that hurt him the first time around. Pacquiao will apply steady pressure, pretty much eschewing the boxing skills he flashed in an October victory over Barrera.

He knows that he can't beat his rival at his own game. He's got to hurt him.

In the late rounds, behind on points, he will.

Pacquiao will drop Marquez, and continue to pressure him - though the champ won't go easy. He'll fight back as hard as he did in '04, and it will be anybody's fight going into the final round.
That's when Pacquiao will score one more knockdown on the tired, battered Marquez, to seal the deal. Once again, Pac-Man's power will tell the story.

That will be the only thing that separates these two in what will be another classic fight. And while Marquez may not get the win, there will be little doubt as to his greatness.

Pacquiao by split decision.


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