Juan Manuel Marquez felt robbed the last time he squared off against Manny Pacquiao. As fate would have it, it's the fourth time that can prove to be the charm for the Mexican boxing champion instead of the third.
To knock off Pacquiao for the first time, JMM has a strategy that worked in the third bout. It's the little things that he needs to perfect in the bout, no doubt the big points of his training sessions over the past few months.
Marquez has felt the brunt of every kind of loss you can imagine each time he and Pacquiao have faced off. The current WBO junior welterweight title holder has had a case in each of the previous three fights, but each time the scorecard reflected a Pac-Man win.
Many thought that of the first and third installments of this four-time sequence. Marquez hasn't won any of the three, so he'll be eager to draw on his experience in those bouts while also not letting the judges get to him.
Firstly, JMM has done his best work against Pacquiao when he is on the defensive. One of the biggest weaknesses of Pac-Man's attack is his inability to dodge a punch. Fighters have been able to get hands on the Filipino champion, and they've been able to do it with regularity.
In the last fight, Marquez was out-punched by Pacquiao by an average of 14 to 11 per round. He was also out-punched as a whole, as Pac-Man was able to get out in front and land some aggressive shots in the middle rounds to help earn the majority win.
As noted by ESPN's Brett Okamoto, trainer Freddie Roach is pounding that into his fighter's head during training.
Roach says Pacquiao has most success against Marquez when he's aggressive, at high pace so they'll try to sustain that throughout fight.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 20, 2012
That being said, Marquez needs to counter with the same amount of gusto and preparation that Pacquiao is gearing up for. Also, Marquez needs to draw on the success that fellow fighter Timothy Bradley was able to have against Pac-Man.
In one of the most controversial decisions of all time, Bradley gained a split-decision victory over Pacquiao over the summer. At first glance it was absurd, but when watching the fight over again it was clear that Bradley did in fact win some of the middle rounds as Pacquiao appeared to be coasting.
Pac-Man hasn't finished an opponent in nearly three years. That's one of the main things JMM has to capitalize on. If he can withstand some of the early punishment while maintaining ground, he has a chance, because the stamina levels just haven't been there for Pacquiao when he needs to close out a fight.
In what's set to be one of the premier fights in the history of the sport, Marquez and Pacquiao actually enter this bout on similar footing. History would suggest otherwise, but these fights have been generally good and showcased both fighters' ability to withstand each other's aggression.
With no WBO championship title on the line and only pride left for Marquez at age 37, he can cement his career with a win over the seemingly fading Pacquiao by keeping the pressure on the Filipino and not backing down late in the fight.
In a bout sure to go past 10 rounds, Marquez can make his move late and still win this fight. With the results of the previous three bouts in the back of his mind, he can draw on those fights to avoid a similar fate on Saturday night.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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