When boxing legend Manny Pacquiao squares off with Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time on Dec. 8, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will bear witness—and so will the millions watching on pay-per-view—to Pac-Man’s new game plan.
Pacquiao is going for a knockout and will settle for nothing less.
In what has become one of the wildest rivalries in modern boxing history, the fact that Pacquiao is fighting Marquez a fourth time—all three previous fights went to the judge’s scorecards—instead of avenging his loss to Timothy Bradley is unheard of.
The decision to accept a fourth chapter with Marquez is enough to verify just how much Pac-Man wants to prove the skeptics wrong; Manny must knock Marquez out and prove once and for all who the better fighter is.
Pacquiao told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times about his game plan going into this fight and what he is trying to prove squaring off with JMM again:
Aggressiveness is the most important thing for this fight…Who’s smarter? I believe myself. You’re going to see that in the ring. This time will be different.
In and out, in and out, side by side. Speed, hip movement. We have a Plan A and Plan B. The plans are to pressure and counter him. Move my head. A lot of work.
I have to prove they’re wrong. My last two or three fights have not been impressive, but guys are running and running from me after I hit them. I thought Marquez ran all night, and [Timothy] Bradley backed off. I’m still young and strong.
While the lack of a superfight against Floyd Mayweather has tainted many boxing fans' view of the star, there is little doubt that Manny has handled himself with class and dignity throughout his career.
This fight with Marquez is about pride. Pac-Man has never been one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, but the things people have said about the previous battles with JMM—and how many claim he didn’t win—have worn on him.
Marquez isn’t getting any younger, and Pacquiao has to finish the job before the Mexican veteran hangs up his gloves for good. Timothy Bradley will be there for a rematch whenever Pac-Man is ready, so there is no question that this was the right move.
With Pacquiao in the mindset that he will walk into the ring against his old foe and knock him out, the close calls and the loss may have been what it took to turn the Filipino politician back into the heavy-hitting champion boxing fans love.