Let's be honest—the fourth time you fight a guy, it's pretty hard to surprise him and pure folly to expect he won't adjust to your style or anticipate your moves. For Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, it's certainly going to be a factor.
That's why Pacquiao has already admitted he's going to mix up his strategy, according to Steve Angeles of ABS-CBN News:
Eight-division world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao started off the second week of his Los Angeles training camp on Monday as he continues to find new ways to beat his December 8 opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez.
“Papasok na ng Week Two ng practice natin, maganda naman ‘yung galaw natin. Happy si Freddie Roach at saka ‘yung mga strategies, techniques na gamit natin ngayon,” Pacquiao said.
Um, what? I didn't quite get that, could you run that back?
Hold on folks, I see some Pacquiao quotes down the article; let's roll with those instead:
It’s going to be different compared to the last three fights that we had, and I believe it’s going to be a good fight. My focus for this training camp is aggressiveness, so in the fight I can give a good fight.
We’re not relying on one strategy and movement. We try to study different moves, different strategies, different techniques so we can use it in the fight.
Ah, there we go. That's what we wanted. And it's a smart move on Pacman's part.
Let's be honest—Pacquiao has far from dominated this rivalry (draw, Pacquiao split decision, Pacquiao majority decision). Many folks would argue that Marquez actually won the last fight and should have been given the decision. Adding a few twists and turns for Marquez to deal with in this tale is a smart move on Pacman's part.
But will they work, or will Marquez finally get a win in this rivalry?
I tend to side with Pacquiao once again in this fight. On the heels of a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley—and needing to prevent the loss of all leverage in negotiations with Floyd Mayweather for the superfight we've been teased with over the years—Pacman has plenty of motivation to come into this fight absolutely buzzing.
And we know he won't take Marquez lightly.
Let's be honest—seeing these two men fight for a fourth time isn't what boxing fans really wanted for Pacman's next fight, and for the more casual observers of the sport, it's a pretty boring proposition.
But it's also a chance to see Pacquiao regain some of his swagger and prove he's still a truly elite fighter after showing a lot of vulnerability in his last two fights. It's an opportunity for him to prove he is still evolving as a fighter, still making adjustments and still able to physically pass all tests.
And it's a chance for him to prove that the Pacquiao who presses forward, barrages opponents with smart combinations and heavy fists and slots in his punches from various angles from the beginning of the fight until the end still exists and is still just a bit too much for Marquez to handle.
Pacman needs to tweak his style a bit, yeah. But he also needs to prove he's still atop the mountain. And if he fails to do the former against Marquez, I fear he'll fail to do the latter in the boxing community.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets aren't afraid to get emotional after a big win.