Manny Pacquiao Must Remain Focused on Juan Manuel Marquez Amid Super Fight Talk

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2012

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  (L-R) Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez stand onstage to face the media cameras during the Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez - Press Conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on September 17, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Ever since Manny Pacquiao expressed his willingness to make concessions so a super fight against Floyd Mayweather could happen, it's all boxing fans have been talking about.

At the same time, Pacquiao can't afford to overlook Juan Manuel Marquez.

It will be the fourth meeting between Pacquiao and Marquez, with the first three resulting in two Pac-Man victories and a draw. All three fights have been close, which means the eight-division champion should be expecting another close battle.

Don't forget, Pacquiao lost his last fight to Timothy Bradley. That makes the Dec. 8 bout in Las Vegas even more important, especially if the Filipino sensation truly wants to get a deal done with Mayweather in the near future.

Marquez has always given trouble to Pacquiao because of his strong defensive and counterattacking abilities. It has often frustrated one of boxing's biggest stars, making for some intriguing fights, even if they aren't normally the most exciting encounters.

He stops Pac-Man from setting the pace with his offense—something that few other fighters have been able to do. Even though Marquez hasn't been able to beat him, he's come awfully close.

The 39-year-old Mexico native continues to fight at an elite level despite being on the back end of his career. He hasn't lost to somebody other than Pacquiao or Mayweather in more than six years, so he can clearly still hold his own.

And that's what should make Pac-Man wary of the upcoming challenge instead of looking ahead to a super fight that may or may not ever actually happen.

It's been talked about for years, but the actual progress has been negligible.

If Pacquiao is unable to score another victory over Marquez, the chances of a super fight will probably decrease even further. After all, the ball is in Mayweather's court after Pac-Man's comments, and there doesn't seem to be any urgency to respond.

It would be easy for Pacquiao to get caught up in all the talk about Mayweather and lose focus on what really matters: the Marquez fight.

Pacquiao should be seeking a knockout win. He has been unable to shake Marquez in any of their previous meetings, and that's why they will fight for a fourth time. It's a rivalry he needs to bring to an end in a convincing matter.

He won't be able to do that if he spends too much time worrying about what Mayweather's camp is going to do, however. He has to pour every ounce of energy into figuring out a way to knock out Marquez.

Pacquiao can turn his attention back to Mayweather after that.