Pacquiao vs. Marquez Undercard: Full Analysis of Tonights Undercard

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2012

LAS VEGAS - MARCH 12:  Miguel Vazquez  punches Leonardo Zappavigna  during the IBF Lightweight Championship bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 12, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The eyes of a nation turn to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas tonight, where Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will settle their rivalry once and for all.

But while we're all waiting in eager anticipation for the main event, there's actually some intriguing fights on this year's undercard.

A former champion returned after a long hiatus; an up-and-comer looking to score a win on a big stage; two divisive celebrities serving as promoters. This undercard really has everything!

Let's take a closer look:

*All betting lines via International Business Times

Super Featherweight Title:

Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) vs. Michael Farenas (34-3-4, 26 KOs)

Betting Line: Gamboa (-1100), Farenas (+650)

Questions abound in this one, where Yuriorkis Gamboa is heavily favored despite not having fought in 15 months. The 30-year-old Cuban is also moving up a weight class, adding further doubt to his cause.

He's known as a pound-for-pound fighter, though, and is still expected to make short work of challenger Michael Farenas.

Although Farenas has an impressive record, his lack of fight experience against true challengers has cast a pall over his resume. He'll need to be special in this one to compensate for Gamboa's elite size and athleticism advantage.

Prediction: Gamboa shakes off the cobwebs, and makes quick work of Farenas. Later, during the after-party, Gamboa promoter 50 Cent racks up a five-digit bartab at Marquee. Vegas, baby.


Lightweight Title:

Miguel Vazquez (32-3, 13 KOs) vs. Mercito Gesta (26-0-1, 14 KOs)

Betting Line: Vazquez (-150), Gesta (+120)

A nice clash of styles in this one, between IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez and Mercito Gesta.

Vazquez is probably the more talented fighter, but he's been attacked for his decidedly un-Mexican passiveness in the ring. He prefers to move around rather than pummeling his opponent, something that has drawn the ire of fans and pundits alike.

Gesta, on the other hand, is all about taking the fight to his opponent. The 25-year-old Filipino southpaw is much like a poor man's version of Manny Pacquiao in that regard. It'll be interesting to see if that aggression helps or hinders Gesta against the much more composed Vazquez.

Either way, these two evenly matched fighters should provide a welcome respite from the talent-gap on the rest of the undercard.

Prediction: It'll go the distance, just as many have predicted, but Gesta will land too many big blows to be denied. Much like Manny Pacquiao did in his first title fight, the Filipino sensation will step up big.


Featherweight Title:

Javier Fortuna (20-0, 15 KOs) vs. Patrick Hyland (27-0)

Betting Line: Fortuna (-1000), Hyland (+600)

Fortuna is one of the fastest-rising up-and-comers in the sport. The 23-year-old has won 75 percent of his 20 fights via the knockout. 

Patrick Hyland is undefeated also, but largely unknown and untested. Between that, the giant stage and his Irish descent, he's got some serious Micky Ward potential in this one. Plus, just like Ward––the boxer of The Fighter fame––Hyland has a crazy person promoting from his corner.

Fortuna has fought, and beaten, better boxers than Hyland, but he's never fought on a stage this enormous. Tonight is, after all, the premier boxing event of the year. He'll need to assuage his nerves and rise to the occasion if he wants to avoid the upset.

Prediction: Hyland is scrappy, but his technical skill isn't in the same class as his opponent. By night's end, young Javier will have the crowd singing "O Fortuna."