The Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy has lived in infamy the past few years and is probably the sport's best rivalry. Let's do a quick recap of each of the first three fights and glean what the fighters might learn from them:
Fight No. 1: May 2004
Recap: After dropping Marquez three times in the opening round, Pacquiao appeared to be on track for a blowout victory. But Marquez was resilient and patient, working his way back into it and out-boxing Pac-Man the rest of the way.
The match eventually ended in a controversial draw; most everybody thought Pacquiao deserved the win after his dominant first round. Every judge but one, Burt Clements, scored the round 10-6. Had Clements not screwed up (he later issued a mea culpa for "dropping the ball"), the fight––along with the WBA and IBF Featherweight belts––would have gone to Pacquiao.
Lesson: This fight taught Pacquiao never to count another boxer, especially Marquez, out of a fight. Even if you fly out of the gate, boxing is a marathon, not a sprint. Pacquiao already struggles with his stamina, so it will be interesting how quick he comes out of the gate and whether or not he remembers to save some juice for the later rounds.
Fight No. 2: March 2008
Recap: Nearly four years after the controversial decision, Pacquiao and Marquez went at it again in 2008. Many boxing experts call this one the best pure fight of the trilogy; both fighters were at the top of their game. Pacquiao knocked Marquez down in the third but also took a number of brutal shots.
In the end, Pacquiao was deemed the winner by split decision (112-115, 115-112, 113-114). It was sweet redemption after the fight from 2004 but hardly a convincing victory.
Lesson: Marquez crushed Pacquiao with a few nice counter-punches––his specialty––in this one but didn't have enough intensity in the later rounds. There's a lot on the line for him in this weekend's fight, and the missed opportunity here could manifest itself in a second or third gear.
Fight No. 3: November 2011
Recap: Another close fight and of Pacquiao's two wins, definitely the more controversial. Closely resembling fight No. 2, except Manny's power shots didn't seem to hit with as much force as they did in '08.
Pacquiao would end up winning (115-113, 114-114, 116-112), although many pundits scored it in Marquez's favor.
Lesson: With a year to study film from the fight, Pacquiao must now know that he needs to hit with more power. He throws a lot of combinations against Marquez, knowing that they are harder to counter-punch, but he can't be content just landing them. He really needs to stick them. A knockdown (or two or three) would go a long way in securing the fight for Pac-Man.