Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are two of the greatest boxers this generation will ever see. Their bitter, storied rivalry will get the closing chapter that it so richly deserves on December 8 in Las Vegas.
Both Pacquiao and Marquez are out for blood in this contest, but for very different reasons. This is the kind of fight that fans and analysts dream about, which is unusual because we have already seen it three times.
The history books will be talking about the legacy of Pacquiao and Marquez, as well as their influence on the sport, long after both fighters have retired. But it will be this fight that defines the entire rivalry.
As we approach the fight, here are the stories and historical ramifications Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4 will have for both men.
What Fight Means for Pacquiao
For all the great things that Pacquiao has done inside a boxing ring, and there are too many to list, Marquez has been his kryptonite, even though Pacquiao has been given the benefit of the doubt by the judges two of the first three times (their first fight ended in a draw).
Pacquiao has his back against the wall right now. Yes, everyone agrees that he won the fight with Timothy Bradley. Sure, he is still regarded as one of the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
But based on Pacquiao's last two performances, against Bradley and Marquez, something has seemed off. He is just about to turn 34 in mid-December, and given all his extracurricular activities, it is possible time is catching up to him.
This fight with Marquez will help define Pacquiao's legacy as a fighter. The book is almost written, though there are a few incomplete chapters that need to be filled in. Marquez is a black hole in the career of Pacquiao.
If ever there was a fight that Pacquiao needed to win, this is it. He needs it for his confidence, to end the talk of controversy that engulfed the boxing world after their third bout and prove Marquez's counter-punch style isn't the book to beating him.
What Fight Means for Marquez
"I honestly don't know what these judges were watching.... I will be interviewing the judges." -Chuck Giampa (h/t FightSaga.com)
Giampa is a former boxing judge who provided that quote to Fight Saga after the judges ruled in favor of Pacquiao after the last bout between these two titans.
That will tell you all you need to know about where Marquez is at heading into this fight. He has all the momentum in the world. Marquez has lost three fights in the last six years, two against Pacquiao and one against Floyd Mayweather.
If Marquez wants to be included on the Mount Rushmore of Fighters from this generation, this is his last, best chance to do so. His style is the perfect antidote to contain Pacquiao's speed and aggressive nature.
All it takes is one win to alter a legacy. Marquez has proven himself to be near the top of the heap in the sport for a long time, but he is just one official victory over his bitter rival from getting all the way to the peak.
Those previous 54 wins that Marquez has were all leading to this moment, on Saturday, December 8. He has to show the world that he learned from the first three fights, rather than just dwelled on them hoping to garner sympathy.
What Fight Means For Rivalry
In the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. was selling people on the idea that "Every Hero Has a Journey. Every Journey Has an End."
You can apply the same thinking to this fourth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez. These are two of the most popular and revered fighters in the sport today. Everything they have done over the last decade has led them to this moment.
Pacquiao fans will try to convince you that because of his 2-0-1 record against Marquez that, regardless of what happens in this fight, he is still the superior fighter. Marquez has legitimate claims to victory in at least one of those fights, so the vicious circle of bickering has no clear winner.
These two stars are on a journey. Pacquiao has all the money, fame, championships and accolades that anyone can dream of. Marquez has quite the impressive resume, but it feels incomplete.
The end of the journey for both Pacquiao and Marquez happens on December 8. There has to be a clear winner. When there is, both men will know exactly what their legacies are.
Pacquiao and Marquez need this fight to settle the score, once and for all. Our heroes' journeys are not likely to end altogether after this contest, but a big part of what made them who they are today will be gone.
The end is near. The only question left to be settled is: Which fighter has the resolve to make it through another 12 rounds and come out on top?