Manny Pacquiao knows a knockout is the only acceptable result from an outside perspective when he faces Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time in early December. It has led him to pick up the intensity of his training with still more than a month to fight night.
Pacquiao was in fine form during a recent sparring session, causing his partner Anthony Marcial to call it quits after a vintage combination of attacks, according to Ronnie Nathanielsz of BoxingScene.com. He also reports Pac-Man is due stateside by month's end.
Even though the Filipino superstar is unbeaten in three fights against Marquez (2-0-1), he has never been able to score a decisive victory, either. All of the bouts have been close, leading to yet another meeting between the rivals.
Aiming for a knockout is always dangerous. It leads fighters to take more risks than they normally would, leaving them exposed to more counterattack opportunities. That's how Marquez has made a name for himself over the years.
His defensive ability has stymied Pacquiao in their previous meetings. He's one of the few opponents who has been able to neutralize Pac-Man's quick-strike ability, and could have easily come out on top in any of the three encounters.
Make no mistake, he knows Pacquiao will be searching for a knockout in the fourth meeting and will come prepared to defend against it. At 39, he's seen just about everything during his long career and uses that experience to his advantage.
That said, it seems like the eight-division champion is on a mission. He's certainly not treating the December clash like just another fight and that's bad news for Marquez.
Which boxer will win the fourth meeting?
Pacquiao is coming off a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley, his first defeat in more than seven years. While everybody can debate the merits of the loss, it could be exactly what he needed to give him some added motivation.
His finishing ability has been lacking lately. He hasn't earned a victory by knockout since defeating Miguel Cotto in 2009, and even that bout lasted into the final round.
Add in the fact Pacquiao's last two fights have resulted in a majority decision win—against Marquez, and the split decision loss to Bradley—and it's clear he hasn't been in peak form lately.
Based on the report of his early training performances, he's ready to change that. Boxing fans should expect to see a much more polished Pacquiao in just over a month, similar to what everybody came accustomed to seeing when he skyrocketed to fame.
More importantly, it should lead to the knockout of Marquez he has been desperately seeking.