Pacquiao vs. Marquez: Rematch Indicative of Boxing's Fading Relevance

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 12:  (L-R) Juan Manuel Marquez connects with a right to the face of Manny Pacquiao during the WBO world welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 12, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Regardless of what happens when Manny Pacquiao takes on Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8, it will not be good for the sport.

This is the fourth time that the two rivals will face off in a ring, and all of the previous three have been incredibly close. The first installment ended in a draw, but Pacquiao earned wins in the next two.

However, a fourth matchup between the two only shows how weak boxing really has become. 

For years, the sport has been dominated by two men: Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. The two can draw a crowd—and a pay-per-view audience—but past them, there are few stars.

This creates a major problem when one of them goes to jail. Mayweather has not fought since last May and has not announced another fight since becoming a free man.

With Mayweather out of the picture, the Pac-Man has had to carry the sport. Unfortunately, the best anyone could come up with is just a retread of something fans have seen multiple times.

WBC president Jose Sulaiman did not mince his words when describing the upcoming bout (via Paul Magno of Yahoo!):

The fourth version of Manny Pacquiao-Marquez is a fight without importance. It's a fight without a championship at stake. It's a fight that's only interesting for those in the Philippines and Mexico—nobody else in the world cares. It's a fight where the sole purpose is to fill a date, and that's all.

While it is inaccurate to say that no one else in the world cares, he is absolutely right about the lack of importance.

If Pacquiao wins, it would only prove that there was no need for any rematches. Marquez has also been so close to winning in the past that even the upset win would not shock anyone.

The problem is a lack of marketable matchups. 

In past years, the heavyweight division was the one that everyone cared about. From Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the 1970s to Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in the 1990s, people wanted to see who was the heavyweight champ.

At this point, however, the top two boxers in the division are Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, and they refuse to fight each other. With no other contenders even close, the entire division has been a wasteland.

The only fight that would really excite people is one between Mayweather and Pacquiao, but that has come with so many complications that it seems like it would never take place.

In a recent interview, Jeremy Schaap of ESPN asked Pacquiao about the possibility of this fight taking place. He responded by saying: 

I'm 100-percent willing to fight him. I already announced that on ESPN. I can agree with the sharing 45/55 for him. Whatever he wants—the drug testing, he can suggest the rules and regulations. It's up to him.

This is incredibly encouraging, but he also said that if the fight does not happen by 2013, he does not think it will ever happen. 

So many boxing fans, both diehards and casual, are waiting on this potential matchup that could end up never happening. 

While people wait, the stars of the sport are just trying to put together the best bouts they can create. Unfortunately, those bouts are nothing special.

The fight between Marquez and Pacquiao might be an incredibly close, intense battle that keeps people engaged for all 12 rounds. However, it does not remove the fact that it is only taking place because there are no better options.

Boxing needs new stars, new rivalries and new matchups. Otherwise, we will end up with a Pacquiao-Marquez V at this time next year.