There may not be a title belt on the line in the epic forthcoming fourth bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, but plenty of pride and the legacies of many are at stake next Saturday night in Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The marquee boxers are not the only ones who have their reputations to fight for. Their two legendary trainers—Nacho Beristain for Marquez and Freddie Roach for Pacquiao—also have a lot at stake. Neither has been particularly successful recently, given the lofty expectations they have established for themselves with their previous track records.
Who will emerge victorious?
Beristain won't want to post a doughnut in the win column against Pacquiao, and Roach won't want to make his prized fighter look bad in the ring with a second consecutive loss.
While this is the unquestioned main event of the evening, there are other fights that will make for entertaining primers ahead of this sensational showdown.
Here is a guide to what you need to know about those bouts—and of course, Pacqiuao-Marquez IV.
(Note: Information on undercard fights courtesy of FightNews.com press release.)
Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) vs. Michael Farenas (33-3-4, 25 KOs)
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is promoting the young upstart Gamboa of Cuba, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the featherweight division. In that context, he should be considered the favorite to retain the interim WBA Super Featherweight title belt against Farenas.
In all 21 of his bouts, Gamboa has never fared worse than a 12-round unanimous decision. Not a bad track record.
Javier Fortuna (20-0, 15 KOs) vs. Patrick Hyland (27-0, 12 KOs)
Hyland is promoted by Team Snooki Boxing. Yes, that Snooki—another seemingly unrelated celebrity to the boxing world—from Jersey Shore.
But cast that aside when assessing the Irishman as a fighter because he is definitely for real. In taking on another undefeated, untied foe in Fortuna, Hyland's methodical approach and stamina may not be enough to wear down his more explosive and aggressive upstart opponent.
Miguel Vazquez (32-3, 13 KOs) vs. Mercito Gesta (26-0-1, 14 KOs)
This will be the fifth time the Mexican fighter has defended his IBF Lightweight world belt, and there's not much reason to think he shouldn't hold onto it. Vazquez has won his past 10 fights after a loss to Saul Alvarez back in 2008.
Gesta has never lost, though, and should provide the biggest challenge to Vazquez's title, and he even admitted as much to BoxingScene.com.
Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) vs. Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs)
Weigh-in: Friday, December 7
The limit for the weigh-in is set at 147 pounds, which should be an advantage to Pacquiao, considering he is used to fighting at a heavier weight.
Fight Night: Saturday, December 8 at 9:00 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
Live Stream: DIRECTV Online
To get pumped up for the fight, watching the tape from the previous three encounters between these two prolific fighters certainly wouldn't hurt. Also worth seeing is the 24/7 series HBO has been doing leading up to the fight. Check out a trailer for that here:
Those strongly situated in Marquez's corner would argue he could have easily won two of the three previous bouts with Pac-Man, but he instead tied the first one and lost the subsequent two.
Pacquiao has been juggling duties as a politician and underwent a religious awakening and transformation ahead of his fight against Timothy Bradley, as reported by SI's Chris Mannix.
It remains to be seen how he will handle another bout with Marquez, but there is a definite chip on the older fighter's shoulder due to the disappointing outcomes of the previous three clashes. Marquez feels jaded by the judges—and sabotaged, insisting he is the superior boxer.
There may be some truth to that, but until these two step into the ring, it will be impossible to tell for sure.
Further fueling Marquez were accusations Roach fired the 39-year-old's way, as he claimed Marquez was using performance-enhancing drugs. Recently, Roach backtracked and stated that he was just joking, according to Ben Thompson of FightHype.com.
This is only essentially an exhibition fight, but for true boxing fans, it is much more. Even for the casual observer or non-fan, this is a pay-per-view event you won't want to miss.
If ever you were going to take a time out for boxing, this would be it. These are two of the best fighters of this generation, and it may be the final time they square off in the ring. No title belt is at stake, but so much more is.