Both Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will be looking to write different endings to the final chapter in their long-time rivalry when they step inside the ring to face each other on December 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Many believe that the 39-year-old Marquez already has at least one victory over his 33-year-old arch-rival, but the record books state otherwise.
Pacquiao has no interest in another close fight, one in which the outcome can be left open to debate. He's tired of hearing about how he didn't really beat Marquez, tired of hearing that he's on the downside of his career and doesn't have much left to offer (h/t Los Angeles Times):
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.
He's correct in stating that his past few fights have not been impressive. While nobody will argue that Pacquiao didn't get robbed against Bradley, there are plenty of people—including yours truly—that believe that Marquez was robbed by the judges the last time these two stepped inside the ring.
While he's still young, relatively speaking, 34 years old isn't exactly young when it comes to boxing.
A victory at the hands of the judges' scorecards will do nothing to change public opinion.
Sure, Pacquiao would have an official mark of 3-0-1 against Marquez, but there would be significant doubt surrounding the outcome.
A loss won't change the fact that Pacquiao will go down in history as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters that the sport has ever seen, nor will it won't keep him from being enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
But it will certainly change the way that the rest of his legacy is written.
Not only will he have finally fallen to Marquez—but losing this bout will also make it three sub-par performances in a row.
It will give credence to those who believe that Pac-Man is through, and it will all but eliminate any chance of seeing the fight everyone has pined for—the fight some believe Pacquiao needs to firmly cement his place in history among the legends of the sport.
His accomplishments in the ring—which are many—will always be overshadowed by one thing.
That he never fought the best fighter of his generation, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
History won't care about how or why a fight didn't occur earlier in their careers—it will only care about the fact that it never took place.
Pac-Man can't just win—he needs to knock Marquez out.
Considering that nobody—Pacquiao included—has ever accomplished that feat, this fight is more dangerous to his legacy than any that have come before it.