One thing that has become readily apparent over the last few days, as Manny Pacquiao's bout with Juan Manuel Marquez creeps closer, is that this isn't the same Manny Pacquiao we saw in the weeks leading up to his fight with Timothy Bradley back in June.
This Manny Pacquiao is much more focused and much more prepared, mentally and physically, to dominate. This time, there are no personal distractions threatening to interfere with his preparation. There is no speculation that too much time playing basketball, or gambling, or doing anything else is going to stand in the way of Pacquiao and victory.
Plain and simple, he seems ready.
On Tuesday, Pacquiao, trainer Freddie Roach and promoter Bob Arum held an international conference call as the fight with Marquez looms on Dec. 8, per FightNews.com.
Judging by the things the three of them said, Pacquiao is ready to dominate, and Marquez should maybe be a little bit worried.
Pacquiao's focus is back, and that is dangerous for whatever opponent he faces.
Roach—who famously worried prior to the bout against Bradley that Pacquiao's head wasn't where it needed to be—feels the opposite this time around. Per FightNews, he said:
Manny is looking great in training. I like what I see. He is where I want him to be right now. His focus is where it has not been for some time. He is very focused for this fight and I think it’s going to be the best fight yet.
As we all expected, this fight is going to be a big deal. It's the first time we've seen Pacquiao get in the ring since that controversial split decision versus Bradley on June 9. The consensus—from those inside the arena and those watching from afar—was that Pacquiao was the clear winner. Nevertheless, two judges felt otherwise and Bradley got the win.
Given the controversy, anticipation for this fight is very, very high—and then, on top of it, there's the history between these two boxers.
Arum told reporters during the conference call, via FightNews:
We’re anticipating a tremendous event on Dec. 8. It will be a fight that will go into the annals of boxing history because these gentlemen that fought three previous times and over the course of the timeline, this fourth fight will be the best fight of all.
There are plenty of factors at play that are giving Pacquiao a bit of extra motivation. One of them is obviously the fact that there are lingering emotions stemming from the fight against Bradley, which everyone in Pacquiao's camp (and pretty much everyone else in the world) thought he won.
There's also the fact that Marquez seems adamant that he won the last three fights against Pacquiao, and Pacquiao is sick of hearing about it. He wants to put an end to Marquez's denials for good. He wants to be so dominant in the ring on Dec. 8 that there is no room for speculation.
No elite professional athlete like Pacquiao needs any extra motivation to be at his best. However, now that he has some, expect him to be more dangerous than ever. Pacquiao told reporters, via FightNews:
I chose to fight him. … I am giving him a chance. I am giving him a chance to prove he can win the fight because he thought he has won all three and he keeps talking about it. So it is very important to me, to win this fight, especially since Marquez really wanted this fight.
Pacquiao is ready. It may be bad news for Marquez, who is going to have his work cut out for him, but it's excellent news for everyone watching.