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December 05, 2012

By Tommy Canez

The rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez  has been one of the best the sport of boxing has had to offer in recent years. Both fighters believe that they won in each of their three encounters. Officially a draw and two wins for Pacquiao, each bout has been razor close and , except for their first three minutes sharing a ring, neither fighter has been able impose their will on the other. Each fighter has had their moments: Pacquiao knocked Marquez down three times in the first round of their first fight and Marquez rocked Pacquiao with right hands, left hooks and well-timed counters.  But will either fighter have an edge in this fourth encounter? Let's take a closer look at what advantages each fighter holds going into this fight.

1) POWER: Pacquiao will always hold an edge in the power department. However, Marquez knows how to nullify Pacquiao's power which forces Pacquiao to find other ways to win. Marquez knows how to avoid Pacquaio's most lethal punch, the straight left down the pike. Marquez is very adept at ducking and slipping to his right and Pacquiao's left hand usually sails by him like the wind. If Pacquiao is to have any success imposing his power on Marquez, he will need to find another way to do so. As for Marquez, he has just enough pop in his punches to keep Pacquiao honest. SLIGHT EDGE: PACQUIAO

2) TECHNIQUE: Marquez is one of the best technical fighters we have ever seen. He is technically brilliant and everything he does in the ring has a reason behind it. He has a unique ability to counter punch, punch with his opponent, and wait for the perfect opportunity to land well-timed and accurate punches. He avoids Pacquiao's bull rushes by side stepping to keep Pacquiao off balance and by doing so he puts himself in the perfect position to let his offense go, which has proven to be very effective in each of the first three battles. If you look closely, Marquez turns his back foot clockwise, which allows him to keep moving left which in turn forces Pacquiao to move in a circle, following Marquez around the ring. This is the mark of technical brilliance on Marquez's part. BIG EDGE: MARQUEZ

3) CORNER: Head trainers Ignacio Beristain and Freddie Roach are two of the best in the world of boxing. Beristain has trained all time great fighters like Ricardo Lopez and Oscar De La Hoya while Freddie Roach has trained James Toney, Johnny Tapia, Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao. Each knows how to implement strategy as well as anyone. However, neither one has yet been able to devise a strategy that will dominate the other boxer, which is why we have a fourth fight this weekend. It does not look like either trainer has the formula for his fighter to defeat his opponent. Roach claimes he has the formula to beat Marquez convincingly but that Pacquiao does not implement it once the fight starts. Will we finally see Roach's strategy implemented in this fight? EDGE: EVEN

4) CONDITIONING: It has been said that Pacquiao has the lung capacity of a shark. However, in his last outing against Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao could not step on the gas pedal towards the end of the fight to finish off Bradley. Was it because Pacquiao is finally starting to show signs of decline or was it because Pacquiao thought he was so far ahead on the scorecards that he saw no need to humiliate his opponent even further? These are the questions that remain to be answered in the against Marquez. As for Marquez, he has been seen on HBO's 24/7 continuing to work hard as always by working on his fast-twitch muscles and appears to be ripped than ever before. Marquez has always been a superbly conditioned athlete because he consistently stays in the gym. No points given out for Marquez's secret energy drink, i.e. his own urine.  EDGE: EVEN

5) DEFENSE: Neither fighter is considered a defensive genius of the ilk of Floyd Mayweather, Pernell Whitaker, or Willie Pep. However, each possesses enough defensive skills to offset each other. Pacquiao has the ability to dart in and dart out of danger and slide underneath punches after a exchange. Marquez has the ability to side step, pivot, and slip and duck to his right to avoid Pacquiao's lethal straight left. Each defensive skill these two fighters have used has proven to be very effective which is why we have yet to see a knockout produced. Will these two fighters abandon their defense and throw caution to the wind so that the fans can have a decisive outcome this time around? EDGE : EVEN

: Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez know each other very well. Marquez does certain things that makes Pacquiao uncomfortable and the same can be said fort Pacquiao. Neither fighter has been able to gain a definitive edge over the other and we can expect more of the same in this fight unless one fighter completely shocks us by abandoning their game plan and just throwing caution to the wind. Unless Marquez gets caught with something clean, an onslaught of punches after geting hurt, or a shot that he does not see coming, it is hard to imagine that he gets stopped. As for Manny Pacquiao, his ability to take a punch is second to none and unless Marquez opens up or has new found power, he will not stop Pacquiao unless Pacquiao gets old overnight. Nevertheless, we should be in for another exciting fight and hopefully this time the fans get a definitive outcome without controversy. As the saying in boxing goes, boxing is the theatre of the unexpected.

Follow Tommy on Twitter @TJCANEZ

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