There are great rivalries, and then there are one-sided rivalries. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have a great rivalry. These days, the Steelers' rivalry with the Cleveland Browns is pretty one-sided.
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox had a one-sided rivalry, but once the Red Sox went through the Yankees to win the 2004 World Series (and won in 2007 as well), it became a great rivalry.
That brings us to boxing. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was a great rivalry. Unless Juan Manuel Marquez can finally beat Manny Pacquiao, the rivalry between the two fighters will go down as a one-sided rivalry.
Yes, I know all three fights have been close. Yes, I know the first was a draw, the second Pacquiao only won on a split-decision and the third was a majority decision that many thought could have gone Marquez's way.
But boxing is a sport that is judged unless one fighter knocks the other out, and thus far, Marquez has not yet been judged as the winner in this rivalry. Until he wins, we'll always remember the four-fight series as solid, competitive boxing, yes, but it will hardly register as one of the all-time greats.
That's not really fair to Marquez, of course. Save for Timothy Bradley, Marquez is the only boxer in years to truly test Pacquiao. He's a shoo-in as a Hall of Famer with a win over Pac-Man, and might get the nod even if he can't surpass that hurdle.
Truly, he's one of the finest pound-for-pound fighters of his time.
But if styles make fights, then opponents make legacies, and Marquez's legacy will always include that he could never beat the best fighter he faced. That's not a mark he'll want to retire with, and certainly a fact that would somewhat diminish this very competitive rivalry.
It won't be easy defeating Pacquiao. After losing to Bradley and his previous decision over Marquez, you could hear the whispers suggesting that Pac-Man had lost a step, that he wasn't focused on boxing any longer, that his reformed lifestyle had caused him to lose an edge.
In the process, he lost some leverage in his never-ending negotiations with Floyd Mayweather, and certainly lost any chance at a 50-50 split.
So if you don't think Pacquiao will come out buzzing in this fight, you've got another thing coming.
But if Marquez wants that signature win for his legacy and the fight that finally puts his rivalry in the pantheon of great boxing rivalries, he'll come out buzzing just a little bit more. It's put up or shut up time for Mr. Marquez.
It's time he put the one-sided talk to rest.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets don't need no stinkin' split decisions.
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