Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will fight for the fourth time on Saturday night, adding another chapter to a terrific boxing rivalry. While the sport has struggled to attract the average sports fan in recent years, it's a bout that should interest a wide audience.
That's because the latest encounter between Pacquiao and Marquez isn't simply another fight. It's a battle between two boxers that have gone at it for 36 rounds without either one gaining a clear edge. Pac-Man and Dinamita are both looking to make a statement this time.
With that in mind, let's take a glance at the top three reasons sports fans, including those who aren't diehard boxing supporters, should check out Saturday's clash.
1. Outstanding Rivalry
The days of extended rivalries, which helped propel boxing to the mainstream during the days of superstars like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, are gone. Instead, promoters are always looking for the newest challenger to keep things fresh.
It's made building a rivalry tough, but Pacquiao and Marquez have done it. While they often act cordial at press conferences, make no mistake, the intensity level will go through the roof of the MGM Grand Garden Arena once the opening bell rings.
In sports as a whole, rivalries are on the decline. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens in the NFL are probably the best remaining example, but the numbers are dwindling. Pac-Man and Dinamita will show fans what they are missing.
2. Even Matchup
Casual fans might look at Pacquiao's 2-0-1 record against Marquez and think it's been a one-sided rivalry. That's not the case. All three fights went right down to the final rounds and could have easily gone either way.
The main reason being Marquez's ability to use his defensive and counterattacking skills to neutralize a powerful, quick-hitting Pacquiao attack. He has laid out the blueprint for competing with the Filipino star and executed extremely well.
Pac-Man wants to score a knockout to prove once and for all that he's the better fighter. It will be interesting to see how Marquez reacts, as it might play right into his hands. Ultimately, it should be another tightly-contested battle.
3. Impact on Pacquiao's Future
The fight everybody wants to see, including the casual viewers that boxing is hoping to attract again, is Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather. The superfight has been talked about for years, but still hasn't materialized.
In order to keep hope alive, Pacquiao needs to win on Saturday night. He's coming off a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley and another defeat would give Mayweather even more reason to shy away from the matchup.
Furthermore, two straight losses from a 33-year-old fighter would lead to talk about Pac-Man's potential decline. He has never lost consecutive fights in his storied career. Fans should want to see if he can get back on track against his fiercest rival.
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