Manny Pacquiao enters this fourth bout with rival Juan Manuel Marquez in a precarious position. After losing to Timothy Bradley and not impressing anyone during Pacquiao vs. Marquez III, Pac-Man needs a knockout to force promoters to finally get us the super bout with Floyd Mayweather.
Looking back at this epic trilogy, Marquez has been one fighter that just won't go away.
That was the case during the first bout, when Pacquiao managed to knock down Marquez three times in the first round, but never really closed out the fight down the stretch. Pacquiao-Marquez I would end in a draw.
The next two bouts helped push this rivalry to the brink, with Pacquiao winning two controversial decisions that have left us wanting more in this epic matchup.
In the third bout just over a year ago, the two men went to the brink before many thought Marquez won going away. However, Pacquiao took a majority decision victory amidst a hostile crowd, and both fighter's entourage laid claims to defending why each man should have been crowned champion.
To make matters worse for Pac-Man, his loss to Timothy Bradley put everything about Mayweather on the back-burner. Losing middle rounds and never closing out the fight after winning the majority of the first six, questions of Pacquiao's ability to finish fights are back in question again.
Looking around the sport, it's clear the the results of this fight are going to help either pressure Mayweather out from the darkness, or push Pacquiao further down the list.
David Levi, one of Mayweather's assistants, wonders where the fear is anymore, a question that will be raised even louder should Pacquiao struggle yet again.
I think there was a time when most writers thought Pacquiao would beat Mayweather. I also think they now know that was never the case.— David Levi (@DavidLLevi) November 28, 2012
Of course, that's all conjecture and shameless promoting from a man on the payroll.
Still, it will be one of the main arguments for a fighter that has yet to lose. Pacquiao will have suffered controversial decisions, the loss to Bradley and another close fight against Marquez if he can't KO the man who has given his career record so much grief over the years.
It's not going to be an easy task.
Marquez has never been knocked out during his illustrious career. His 54-6-1 record has three decisions that feature Pacquiao's stain, and none of them are in the win column.
To make matters worse, Marquez was noticeably beefier in the third fight, and had a great strategy for countering the big shots that had plagued him during the first two bouts.
Pacquiao is in a position of weakness if he can't seal the deal. No one wants to see another controversial decision for either fighter. This fourth and final bout (hopefully) will help decide the legacy of both fighters.
Pacquiao's career path will be decided on Dec. 8. If he can knock out Marquez and make a statement in front of a huge pay-per-view audience, he'll have yet another bullet to sling at Mayweather's camp.
It's getting redundant, but there's only so many insults I think Mayweather will take.Take care of Marquez once and for all, Pac-Man, and you'll get your super fight.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.