Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are set to square off for all the bragging rights on December 8. After three bouts that have only clouded the futures of the two great fighters, we still have plenty of great moments from their rivalry.
The case could be made that this is the best boxing rivalry of all time, even without the results of the fourth match immediately available.
The two fighters have poured their souls into the three 12-round fights, and each time it appears the outcome is mired in controversy. Pacquiao has taken the last two fights by split and majority decision, and the first bout between the two men ended in a draw in 2004.
Marquez hasn't been able to break through to the judges and get that pivotal stretch of rounds that would give him any of these fights, though the third match between the two in 2011 was arguably one of the best back-and-forth brawls the sport has ever seen.
It's hard to rank these moments individually, and with a whole new set of memories coming our way from Las Vegas on the eighth, it's better just to look back at the greatest moments from the first three fights.
First, here's an HBO Sports look at both fighters' careers. Marquez, the Mexican puncher who has transitioned from a technical fighter to a true power threat over the course of his career, is looking to cement his place at the top of boxing lore and prove that the first three fights weren't indicative of who he is as a boxer.
For Pacquiao, now a politician in his native Philippines and looking for one last big win before we decide the fate of Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather, he must stave off questions of slowing down after a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley in June.
At the conclusion of this fight, we could tell this was going to be an instant classic—but not one that was ever going to get to a third rematch.
In the first round, Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times. The fight looked over, and Pacquiao looked well on his way to defending a title and getting back in the training ring. But not so fast, sir.
Marquez responded in the middle rounds, landing a big hook that will be remembered as the punch that really started this whole feud in a different direction than the early rounds.
At the conclusion of the fight, it was clear that Pacquiao's three knockdowns would give him a big edge, but a botched scorecard ended up leaving this one in a draw.
The two fighters felt each other out a little bit in this one, and this might have been the roughest fight of the three so far.
The pivotal moment came in the third round, when Pacquiao once again knocked down Marquez with a huge southpaw left that caught him right across the chin.
Over the course of the fight, several moments stand out, including the 12th-round showdown where both men were taking and throwing out punches that would have ended a fight between two mere mortals within a few seconds. It was a great precursor to the third fight, where all would (hopefully) be decided.
In the fight that the world swears Marquez won, the beefed-up Marquez struck early and often in the fight. But in one of the greatest tactical errors in boxing history, he pulled his foot off the gas and let Pac-Man take the final two rounds away from him.
The Filipino won by majority decision, and those two points on two of the scorecards (114-114, 115-113) were the difference between a win and another draw.
One of the marquee moments was how timid Marquez was in those final two rounds—completely opposite from the first 10 rounds.
So there you have it. There's plenty of footage and history between the two men to make for a great fight in Vegas. They've promoted, practiced and put each other down enough to settle this thing in the ring.
It's for all the marble when the two men enter the ring next Saturday night.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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