As far as Manny Pacquiao is concerned, pure, unbridled aggression is the best way to negate Juan Manuel Marquez and his counterpunching when the two meet for the fourth time on December 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“In and out, in and out, side by side,” Pacquiao told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times when explaining his plan of attack. “Speed, hip movement. We have a Plan A and Plan B. The plans are to pressure and counter him. Move my head. A lot of work.”
Pacquiao told reporters that he was not only ready, but had a plan of attack for Marquez, one of the premier counterpunchers in the sport, prior to the third installment of their legendary rivalry.
Now, with Pacquiao looking to be über-aggressive against Marquez in the latest chapter of their rivalry, he could be playing right into Marquez's hands.
Pac-Man's plan of a constant, never-ending attack on Marquez is sound in theory, but in each of his previous two fights, against Marquez and Timothy Bradley, his stamina has come into question.
Will he really be able to stick to his plan for the entire fight?
All Marquez needs is one opening to counter Pacquiao's attack and become the aggressor, forcing Pacquiao to play defense, something that Pac-Man has never done particularly well.
Ray Beltran, one of Pacquiao's sparring partners, told Pugmire that he doesn't believe that Pacquiao will be as prone to Marquez and his counterpunching as he's been in their three previous encounters:
In the past, we had a chance to get him. He’d hold his hands in front of him. Now, he’s not giving us a chance. You can see he’s mentally like ‘I’ve got to prove it against this guy for good.
Earlier this year, Pacquiao admitted to ESPN that Marquez has been the biggest challenge of his career—and that counter punching plays a major part in why that's the case:
Juan really understands how to fight southpaws. He's a very smart man and an excellent fighter. His deliberate and patient style of fighting is a product that comes from experience, and experience against great opposition. He's a brilliant counterpuncher.
My trainer, Freddie Roach, has said many times that Juan is the only smart one out there—the only fighter who has figured me out.
Whether Marquez has Pacquiao figured out or not remains to be seen, but one thing is certain.
This fight is going to come down to Marquez's ability to make Pacquiao play defense by successfully countering his aggressive style—and Pacquiao's ability to not only get out of the way when that counter-attack comes, but to get back on the attack himself immediately afterwards.
With both fighters out for blood in this one, this fourth—and likely final bout between the two—promises to be as good as any of the previous three.
My tweets are solid like JMM's chin: