As Manny Pacquiao prepares for his upcoming bout against Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8, the Filipino sensation should be noticing something he's not used to—a remarkable lack of hype surrounding the fight.
Since his ascent to the top of most boxing pound-for-pound lists, any fight involving Pacquiao atop the marquee has garnered massive amounts of attention, regardless of opponent.
This hasn't been the case. The mainstream has met this fight with a collective shrug, which leaves Pacquiao with just one option: knock Marquez out early and re-establish his dominance atop the boxing world.
Much of this lack of hype continues to revolve around the boxing world's insatiable craving for a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Until these two superstars actually get into the ring together, any other fight is going to be seen as an insignificant warm-up that is only prolonging fans' agony.
A non-Mayweather fight would have been justifiable had it been with Timothy Bradley, the man who came away with a controversial split decision victory to take Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title in June.
Had Pacquiao chosen to fight Bradley, it would have been seen as a redemptive move and the hype surrounding the fight would have been palatable. Unfortunately for fans clamoring for that rematch, it doesn't look to be happening.
“I already beat Bradley,” Pacquiao said (via My San Antonio's John Whisler). “Everyone knows it. I just didn't get my hand raised.”
Regardless, the true overarching cause for the lack of excitement comes from the fact that we have already seen a trilogy of bouts between Marquez and Pacquiao.
While each fight has merit and was fun to watch, they were essentially repeats with the combatants gaining weight each time. Though each came with a share of controversy regarding the result, we know exactly what we're getting when these two meet up.
That's exactly why the knockout is so vital.
If Pacquiao fights Marquez to another split or majority decision, he is neither justifying this fight beyond a financial gain nor doing anything to make a matchup with Mayweather more likely.
Simply put, a non-knockout result is equivalent putting a car in neutral, flooring the gas pedal and expecting to start flying down the highway.
Even worse, if he loses, the hype that does remain for a potential Mayweather fight will have all but evaporated. In a time where the Money Team already feels that "Floyd dictate the terms" (via the Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire), a defeat would do nothing to create a sense of urgency within his camp.
However, by eviscerating the 39-year-old Marquez in fine fashion, Pacquiao has an opportunity to at least tread water here. By choosing the wrong opponent, he put himself in an untenable position, but has an opportunity to fight out.
Get the knockout, re-establish dominance and make this Mayweather fight happen before fans lose their patience. Without that result, it may happen sooner than you think.