Despite being one of the biggest stars in all of sports, not to mention one of the most decorated boxers in history, Manny Pacquiao has far more at stake in his upcoming fight than his opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao has a lot on his plate that he is trying to juggle. He is a boxer, politician, entertainer and entrepreneur, but with only so many hours in a day, there are only so many things that you can do at a time.
No one would ever doubt Pacquiao's ability to perform, but his dedication can, at times, be called into question.
With so much uncertainty surrounding Pacquiao right now, especially after his controversial victory over Marquez last year and loss against Timothy Bradley earlier this year, here are the reasons Pacquiao needs to defeat Marquez again.
In order for an athlete to win, there are three things they must have: Talent. Desire. Confidence.
Pacquiao has the talent to win any fight he takes on, everyone knows that. His desire, while it may not be quite what it was when he was at the absolute top of his game from 2005-10, is still where it needs to be to win a fight.
But Pacquiao's confidence, at this point, has to be shot. Most pundits assumed he beat Bradley in June, but the judges saw fit to go with Bradley on the scorecards. On top of that, Pacquiao's last victory over Marquez was widely derided as cheap because Marquez seemed to do more damage.
When there is so much talk about what has happened around your last two fights, other than your victory or why you lost, your confidence has to take a hit. Pacquiao will do and say all the right things in public, but there was a method to his madness with this particular fight.
Pacquiao had to pick Marquez knowing that he could settle this whole feud once and for all, as well as making sure that no one ever questioned where he was at physically.
Pacquiao does not appear to be in any immediate danger of losing his spot as one of the two biggest draws in the sport of boxing. He and Floyd Mayweather can draw over one million buys on pay-per-view if they are fighting a broom.
However, there comes a point in every elite athlete's career when the drawing power starts to fade. It should come as no surprise that it happens when the athlete starts to lose fights, or doesn't perform as well as he once did.
Another controversial win, or loss, against Marquez will do serious damage to everything that Pacquiao has built over the last seven years. He is one of the most revered athletes in sports, but you have to perform to maintain that level of admiration.
The Manny Pacquiao brand is far bigger than just Manny Pacquiao the man. That brand can't afford a significant hit. If Marquez defeats Pacquiao, people might start to look at that Bradley loss a bit differently.
If people start wondering what is wrong with Pacquiao, he loses that special aura that made him a must-see attraction whenever he stepped into the ring. The Pacquiao brand needs this win as much as Pacquiao himself.
This one is a little out there, just because there are a lot of things that have to go right for it to happen, beyond just having Pacquiao win.
We all want to see Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather lock horns at some point before their respective careers are over, but one of the big draws of that fight was the fact that neither looked beatable.
If Pacquiao loses two straight fights, especially this one against a defensive counter-puncher like Marquez, which is similar to the way Mayweather fights, there would be no incentive whatsoever, other than monetary, for Mayweather to take this fight.
Pacquiao vs. Mayweather is built on the mystique of these two unstoppable monsters that need to determine which one is the best. If we have no clear proof that Pacquiao is still in that discussion, what purpose does it serve Mayweather to take the fight?
I understand that even talking about the fight is enough to draw some eye-rolls, but given the financial implications of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, if there is an opportunity to do it then you have to believe they will find a way to work it out.