Manny Pacquiao’s performances in his last couple of fights have been very subpar. He has definitely lost something in his ring approach, partially due to his age and the fact that moving up in weight class saps him of his strength.
On December 8, Pacquiao must remove any doubt about who is the better fighter in the boxing series against Juan Manuel Marquez. His goal in their fourth encounter is to knock Marquez out early in the bout or clearly dominate him enough to impress the judges before the later rounds begin.
To redeem himself, Pacquiao cannot become a predictable boxer. He must challenge Marquez to stand toe-to-toe with him and turn the fight into a slugfest. He cannot allow Marquez to implement his counter-punching style from the opening bell, as he will score judges' points on perfectly executed combinations and flurries of punches.
To tarnish the Pacquiao legacy, a fighter must clearly dominate and defeat him in the squared circle. So far, no opponent has risen up to this challenge, as Pacquiao’s hand speed is too fast, and his punching power is too strong for anyone to last a full 12 rounds with him.
We can argue the outcome of the three prior bouts until we’re blue in the face, but Marquez never stood out as a clear-cut winner in any of the fights. Pacquiao has limited boxing skills, but he has closed the gap over the last decade against good technical fighters like Marquez. Ideally, he wants to lure his opponent into a trap and capitalize on his mistakes with his lethal knockout punching power.
Boxing fans from all over the world flock to see Pacquiao brandish his killer instinct inside of the ring. But now, his biggest fight could be against Father Time, as Pacquiao’s aggressive fighting style has caused him, for the first time, to absorb punches from his opponents.
If Pacquiao can redeem himself against Marquez, then I believe that he will stick around for one more year in the hopes of cornering Floyd Mayweather Jr. into finally agreeing to fight him.