If history is any indication, then Saturday's fourth bout between Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) and Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) won't teach us anything except for the fact that the two fighters are legendary adversaries.
With three fights and 36 rounds in the books, it looks as if Pac-Man and Dinamita will have one last opportunity to provide boxing fans and experts with a lasting image of where they stand in this epic rivalry. Although Pacquiao has won the last two after the initial draw, not one of the past three results has been free of controversy.
With less than a week remaining before Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV on Dec. 8, here we get you caught up on the latest buzz surrounding both fighters.
Despite Manny Pacquiao's brilliant boxing career, many have begun doubting the 33-year-old since his controversial defeat against Timothy Bradley last June.
One writer, Philippines-based Pacquiao expert Ted Lerner offers up a reason for Pac-Man's perceived decline over the last few fights. Lerner believes that Manny has lost his "spark" in recent years and isn't the same fighter he once was (via ESPN.com's Nigel Collins):
I don't think the spark is there anymore. He's found religion, politics and business, and now has many other interests away from the ring. Clearly that special edge that made Manny a once-in-a-generation phenomenon has faded considerably and will continue to fade if he continues to fight.
Lerner does make a great point. In recent years, Pacquiao's focus has been split in different directions, and perhaps that has led to a less effective Pac-Man inside the ring. He's never lost two fights in a row, nor two fights in the same year, so Dec. 8's Marquez bout will be a telling one in terms of where Pac-Man's focus is.
A lot of experts around the sport of boxing have questioned the timing of Pacquiao's religious rebirth, including ESPN.com writer Nigel Collins:
If Pacquiao were a banker, bricklayer or schoolteacher -- anything but a boxer -- his born-again, goodie two-shoes reformation would have been the feel-good story the media portrayed in countless cookie-cutter articles. But for a fighter, especially one as ferocious as Pacquiao at his best, such a transformation could be disastrous.
Collins makes another key point about the new and improved Manny Pacquiao. The biggest question left to be answered is how all of his recent lifestyle changes will impact his performance in the ring?
We'll have an answer soon enough.
Juan Manuel Marquez
Juan Manuel Marquez knows Manny Pacquiao better than any other boxer who has faced him over the years. And according to a recent interview with EastSideBoxing.com, Marquez is expecting to beat Pac-Man at his best:
I am expecting the best Manny Pacquiao. I know the last three times I fought the best Manny Pacquiao. Of course he wants to be on top again so he wants to win the fight. But I am preparing myself very well but I will win the fight on December 8th.
It's not surprising that Marquez would essentially guarantee victory in the days leading up to the fight. Clearly the last three bouts against Pacquiao have given him confidence that he can beat Manny.
Marquez went on to say that he's looking to knock out Pacquiao this December (via EastSideBoxing.com):
I am going to be aggressive in this fight. I won’t go for the knockout right away but if I get the opportunity for the knockout I will go for one. I will fight with intelligence and I will also be a counter-puncher. And you need to fight intelligently to get a knockout. To win the fight clearly, I need to get a knockout.
Thirty-nine of Marquez's 54 career wins have come via knockout. But there has yet to be a knockout in this series, which suggests Dinamita is rather ambitious to anticipate a knockout of Pac-Man the fourth time around.
Most recently though, Marquez came under fire from Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, who accused Marquez of using performance-enhancing drugs. Marquez quickly denied the accusation though (via USA Today's Jon Saraceno):
I think it's disrespectful when people start rumors like this. I have never done this type of work before. That's why my body has changed. I have been working very hard, specifically to get more strength. Angel is a professional and knows how much weight I am putting on. I am getting more speed and getting stronger at the same time.
Roach's accusations were based on Marquez's increased muscle mass and hiring of controversial strength and conditioning coach Angel Hernandez, who in the past supplied PEDs to Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, according to Saraceno.
Buzz Wrap Up
Aside from the traditional back-and-forth trash talk, the pre-fight conversation is being dominated by Manny Pacquiao's recent lifestyle changes, which are causing many to wonder what sort of Pac-Man we'll see against Marquez this coming weekend.
On the other side, Marquez has made it known that he will be much more aggressive in the fourth fight, and that despite the accusations from Pacquiao's camp, he is not using PEDs to get an edge.
Keep it right here for more of the latest buzz surrounding both fighters as Dec. 8's pay-per-view showdown draws near.
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