Many boxing fans weren't excited to hear that Manny Pacquiao was taking on Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time. Their trio of battles have been epic, but a fourth slugfest between the two is uninspiring. Another close decision doesn't do much for Pacquiao's future—win or lose.
Will we see more of the same on December 8, or will Pacquiao create a special moment?
If there is only one thing to take from this bout, it should serve as an indication of how much fight Pacquiao has left.
The fall-off in Pacquiao's game has been subtle, but noticeable.
Not only did he lose a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley in his last fight, but Pacquiao hasn't stopped an opponent in three years—a span of five fights.
The three-year, five-fight KO drought is the longest of his career. It appears he has lost either the snap on his punches or the killer instinct to finish opponents. Both tendencies could spell doom for Pacquiao.
If he is to convince his critics that he hasn't lost a step, he must score a resounding victory over Marquez. As we've seen in three previous fights, this is no simple task; Marquez is a great fighter.
His career is hall-of-fame worthy in my opinion and many question whether Pacquiao has ever truly beaten him. Every time he's faced Marquez the result has been debatable.
This fourth fight isn't the match most fans would have preferred to see Pacquiao take at this point in his career. Besides the obvious and obligatory mention of a superfight with Floyd Mayweather, a rematch with Bradley would have made more sense.
As it is, Pac-Man must put himself in harm's way to impress in this fight.
He needs to KO Marquez, or at least win a clear cut decision. If he produces another iffy performance, is the beneficiary of another controversial decision, or even loses this fight, it won't bode well for him moving forward.
The risk/reward factor for Pacquiao isn't favorable in this one. If he wins in unimpressive fashion, it just equals another debatable victory over Marquez. If he loses, it's going to be catastrophic and people will begin to give more credence to the decision in the Bradley fight.
He must win big to truly come out on top in this scenario.
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