Pacquiao vs. Marquez Predictions: What Top Fight Analysts Are Saying

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 12:  Juan Manuel Marquez (L) and Manny Pacquiao battle in the 10th round of their WBO world welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena November 12, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pacquiao retained his title with a majority decision victory.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Did you know that Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are fighting for a fourth time on Saturday evening? Have you heard about that?

Of course you have. Until we get a Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather fight (which will obviously never happen), these Pacquiao-Marquez tilts have to wet our boxing whistles. 

One would imagine that the fourth bout between these fighters will end the trilogy. And while we've been down this road (three times) before, there is still an endless amount of intrigue and analysis that follows these two boxers.

So with that in mind, lets tap into the minds of boxing writers and analysts to get their take on the key storylines of the match, strategy for each fighter and, oh yeah, a few predictions.

We start with the folks over at ESPN and Dan Rafael, who documented the odd relationship between Pacquiao and Marquez. Often in long rivalries such as this one, Rafeal notes that fighters will either come to loathe or love one another. For these two, however, that isn't the case:

Pacquiao and Marquez, apparently, have not gotten that memo. While they do respect each other, there is no other relationship to speak of, positively or negatively.

"I don't see them being friends after the fights like Morales and Pacquiao," said Fernando Beltran, the Mexican promoter who handles Marquez and used to co-promote Morales. "Morales went to the Philippines and got drunk with Manny after they did a commercial. There were no hard feelings and they were hugging each other. I don't see Marquez doing that with Manny. Marquez is different. He sees this as a business. He's a professional."

Said [Bob] Arum: "They don't react to each other. They're polite and nice to each other but there's no real reaction."

I think I would have some sort of emotion toward a man I did battle with three times, but apparently these two don't. Alrighty then.

We turn to strategy, specifically Marquez's strategy. He's still looking for his first win in this rivalry, after all. We know Marquez will rely on counterpunching, but as Bernardo Pilatti of ESPN notes, he should ratchet up his aggression early to earn points:

Marquez should be more aggressive than in his previous fights with Pacquiao, increasing his punch volume. Stats don't lie: Pacquiao has consistently taken an edge by throwing and connecting on more punches. To earn more consideration from the judges, Marquez will have to risk himself earlier. He must stalk Pacquiao, not allow him to think, harness his physical power (which should be far superior compared to that in previous fights) and close every round by dictating the rhythm.

Let's balance this out with some Pac-Man analysis. Gordon Marino of the The Wall Street Journal got the inside scoop on a bit of Pacquiao's strategy, namely in combatting that deadly Marquez counterpunching:

When pressed as to how he will avoid the counter right this Saturday, Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach responds, "By being aggressive and keeping Marquez backing up." Roach continued, "When we go back and look at the tape at what worked and what didn't, it is clear that Manny did his best when he was dictating the pace and keeping busy, using his speed."

Longtime pound-for-pound stalwart, Roy Jones Jr. concurs: "Manny has to attack, get Marquez to counter and then counter his counter." But with a sharp shooter like Marquez "aggressive and busy" are easier to talk about in press conferences than to execute in the squared circle.

Finally, what would this analysis section be without a Teddy Atlas video? Take it away, Teddy.

We turn from strategy to potential controversy. Yahoo! scribe Kevin Iole can't help but wonder if Marquez's chiseled frame came from using steroids:

Now, Marquez's physique has undergone a transformation every bit as dramatic as the one baseball star Barry Bonds did in the second half of his legendary career. He has big, bulging biceps, thick shoulders and a wide, broad chest. He accomplished this after he turned 38 and only after he hired Angel Guillermo "Memo" Heredia as his strength and conditioning coach.

Marquez vehemently denies the use of any performance-enhancing drugs, which puts him in an awkward situation. If he dominates or knocks out Pacquiao, he likely won't receive the acclaim and the respect he seeks because so many would believe it to be a tainted victory.

He said he's willing to submit to testing to prove his claims.

Even if Marquez wins, he can't win, at least in the eyes of his doubters. Perhaps Pacquiao is simply his curse and not his rival.

But enough of the heavy stuff. This tweet from ESPN's Arash Markazi doesn't offer analysis or make a prediction, but hey, I laughed.

Pacquiao and Marquez look like the newest members of The Four Horsemen.

— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 5, 2012

Finally, predictions. Over at Sports Illustrated, Richard O'Brien (majority decision) and Bryan Armen Graham (split decision) are predicting a Marquez victory, while Chris Mannix succinctly summarizes this fight and picks Pac-Man:

The reality is the Pacquiao-Marquez is a pick ‘em fight and it will be a pick ‘em fight whether they fight today, tomorrow or 10 years from now. Pacquiao will always be an aggressive, come-forward fighter and Marquez will always be the kind of counterpuncher that eats that style up. Marquez looks great at 147 pounds, sculpted and comfortable at the higher weight. And like last fight, Marquez will likely have a strong crowd behind him. Still, boxing judges favor the aggressor and I think Pacquiao will come out trying to prove a fight. He won’t stop Marquez but he will win a close—and probably controversial—decision.

Hard to disagree with that assessment, no matter what your prediction is. 


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