When Manny Pacquiao takes center stage once again to fight Juan Manuel Marquez in a rematch for the ages, for the first time in years, Pacquiao has something to prove after a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley.
Despite this loss, his legacy as one of the world's greatest boxers ever can be cemented with a convincing win over Marquez.
There is no doubt left that Pacquiao is heading to the Hall of Fame, but he has a chance to return to the stretch of dominance he previously had, a stretch that was among the most successful in boxing history.
Despite that dominance, Pacquiao has never really dominated Marquez. In three bouts, Pacquiao is undefeated against the Mexican legend, but Pacquiao has not dominated the series. On the contrary, every bout between the two has been controversial and close.
On the surface, a big win for Pacquiao would be a chance to prove once and for all that he is the victor in this series. Most simply, it would put Pacquiao at 55 career wins, one above Marquez. More importantly, though, a draw and two close wins in the series is not exactly dominance. A dominating performance in the fourth bout would cement Pacquiao's status as the better boxer.
More importantly in the long term, Pacquiao needs to come back strongly from his controversial loss to Timothy Bradley if he ever wants a shot at Floyd Mayweather.
This fight has been flirted with for years, but it will never happen unless Pacquiao forces Mayweather's hand with wins. As long as Pacquiao keeps winning, his star will still be the biggest in boxing, and that will put him squarely on a collision course with Mayweather.
A loss against Marquez, though, would be a big blow for a career probably on the decline. Pacquiao isn't as fast as he once was, and his stamina has fallen drastically. A loss to an opponent he has never lost to would cement this decline.
Further, a Pacquiao loss could even make boxing pundits look back at the past through different lenses. It would call into question his previous wins over Marquez and giving more credence to the decision that gave Bradley the win over Pacquiao.
A win is crucial for Pacquiao, but looking like a winner is even more important to his long-term aspirations. If Pacquiao wants to be remembered as truly the best, he needs a chance to defeat Mayweather. He won't get that chance if he doesn't show up against Marquez.