By now fight fans the world over know that Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao will fight on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It will mark the fourth time this duo enter the ring together, and if history is any indicator, we are headed for another 12-round battle.
The HBO Pay-Per-View broadcast team will handle the telecast. Jim Lampley will call the blow-by-blow action, with analysis from Larry Merchant and Roy Jones Jr. on all four of the bouts offered to the TV audience.
Jones, a multiple titleholder himself and future Hall of Famer, is already in Las Vegas and excited for the bout. I spoke to him Thursday about Pacquiao-Marquez 4.
JW: How can Pacquiao win?
Jones: Manny must be the aggressor. In winning two out of the three fights, he has taken the battle to Marquez. He needs to be the first to attack, make Marquez use his left hand in a defensive way, and that will take away his strength.
It sounds a great deal easier than it is, but Manny is a power puncher, and he can put Marquez away once and for all if he stays on the offensive by making Marquez fight all three minutes of every round. Watch his footwork: If Manny can get his lead foot outside of Marquez’s, that means he will be free to go hard for the knockout.
There has been a point in each of the other three fights where Manny has had the chance to knock out Marquez, but there have been missed opportunities. I think Manny will enter this fight with a game plan to try to close this fight out early. It won't be easy, as we have seen from the past three fights, but he can do it.
JW: How can Marquez win?
Jones: Follow up on his counterpunches with solid punches to the head and the body of Manny. In all three of their fights, Marquez has been a brilliant counterpuncher; it has been how he has kept Manny off guard, and more importantly, he has cut down his range.
Marquez is a classic fighter with a great understanding of the finer points of ring techniques vs. Manny’s less polished style. His strategy has been more defensive than offensive, waiting for Manny to make a mistake.
As a counterpuncher, his problem has been not following up those punches with a series of solid lefts to the head to get a knockout. As a student of the sport, Marquez will be content by taking the fight the distance of 12 rounds. He needs to remember to up his punch output because, as we have seen, the busier fighter often gets the benefit of the doubt in close rounds and could win it for him in the end.
JW: What is the state of boxing considering the success of MMA?
Jones: The future of boxing in the world is great. There are a wonderful group of talented young fighters that are making up the ranks. I am happy to report that we are seeing kids from all over the world in all the weight categories that want to be boxers. I know that MMA is doing well, but boxing is far from dead.
*All quotes used in this story were obtained firsthand in a phone interview conducted Thursday with Roy Jones, Jr. and set up by HBO.