If we know one thing about how Manny Pacquiao's fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez will play out, it's that Pac-Man will be aggressive and will force the action, while Marquez will look to win the fight by counterpunching.
But this time, Pacquiao will gain the upper edge early, and dominate the first few rounds of the fight. And he'll do so based on the element of surprise.
One of the early storylines around this fight has been Pacquiao's new clean, pious lifestyle—a departure from his old gambling, drinking and womanizing days.
The question that has been passed around is whether or not Pac-Man has lost the edge needed to beat down another man in the ring. Nigel Collins of ESPN wrote an excellent article on that very subject:
But for a fighter, especially one as ferocious as Pacquiao at his best, such a transformation could be disastrous. Boxers' personalities are usually reflected in the way they fight, and the menacing attack that made Pacquiao so wildly popular isn't a fighting style derived from abstinence.
Fighters are by nature risk-takers who tempt fate every time they duck between the ropes. It is true that life in the fast lane has cut short or ruined many boxers' careers. But it's also true that the majority of great fighters were wild men who embraced a life filled with virtually every vice known to mankind. Even alleged paragons of virtue such as Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard, who traded on their squeaky images, admitted they cheated on their wives, used cocaine and drank to excess.
So you wouldn't necessarily blame Marquez if he was expecting a slightly subdued Pacquiao in the ring. I think most people are. That could be a mistake—I think Pacquiao will use that talk to his advantage and step into the ring absolutely buzzing from the opening bell.
But since these men have fought three times already, Pac-Man also knows he'll need to tweak his style and approach. Many folks thought Marquez was the better fighter, and deserved the decision in the last fight, after all.
Pacquiao has already said he's focused on being more aggressive in his training, and added earlier this month in an ABS-CBN article that "We’re not relying on one strategy and movement. We try to study different moves, different strategies, different techniques so we can use it in the fight.”
He's not going to come at Marquez from the angles he normally uses to attack. He's not going to repeat the same patterns and combinations.
Pacquiao knows he needs to answer a lot of questions after losing to Timothy Bradley, and he realizes he needs to do it against a fighter who knows him inside and out.
Pacquiao understands that he must turn the heat up early, attack Marquez in new ways and keep his opponent on tilt to start the fight.
Pacquiao needs to make a statement, and early on in this fight, I think he'll do just that.
Don't expect a ho-hum start to this bout—Pac-Man is going to be on the prowl.
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