For the last 20 years, boxing has been professional sports’ sore-eye, only making headlines when it embarrasses itself in the public eye. Endless corruption scandals, heartbreaking financial woes to legendary boxers and questionable outcomes in bouts have all contributed to boxing’s image problem.
But the sport has a chance to resurrect itself with the pending bout between two of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing today. On December 8th, Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2) will square off against Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1) for the fourth time in the last eight years.
Each camp could make a valid argument that their fighter could emerge victorious two Saturdays from now. All of the prior fights have been competitive affairs, with Pacquiao winning two of them on points and a controversial draw decision deciding their last bout.
Marquez has been the only boxer in Pacquiao’s career that he hasn’t dominated inside the squared circle. Yes, Pac-man has landed more punches and scored the only knockdown in the series, but in his two wins, Pacquiao turned the bout into a beauty contest by letting the judges decide the outcome.
In their last encounter, Nov. 2011, Marquez clearly outclassed him by executing better punching combinations and using superior footwork to frustrate Pacquiao for 12 rounds. He deserved a decision win, case closed. Marquez must use all of his ring skills and come out aggressively in this fourth bout, but he cannot leave himself open, as Pacquiao can still deliver a knockout punch.
Some detractors will argue that this bout is taking place because Pacquiao has run out of quality opponents to fight and settled on Marquez for another big pay day. Boxing fans have patiently waited three years for a Pacquiao-Mayweather Jr. megafight to take place. We all thought an agreement was pending, as Pac-man agreed to all of Mayweather’s ridiculous contract demands (55-45 purse split and blood drug testing), but neither boxer has put his signature on the dotted line.
Pacquiao and Marquez are all-time great fighters who still have plenty of gas in the tank to provide another memorable encounter for boxing fans. No surprises can be expected from either side, as they fought the most rounds against one another for an opponent in their respective careers. Pacquiao and Marquez know each other best, so expect fireworks from the opening bell.
It could be a magical evening that puts boxing back on the front page (in the right way) once again.