There is less than two weeks until Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez get ready to go to war for a third time.
With 24 rounds between them, and much unfinished business left inside the ring, their Nov. 12 bout will be worth three times as much as previous fights. It could very well end up being the most significant moment of their legendary careers.
A win for either guy will mean they should have deserved victories in the first two fights, but it's Pacquiao who comes into this one with the upper hand in the form of a split-decision victory.
He has followed that win with a pound-for-pound list of beaten opponents, and has placed himself at the top of sport.
The closest Marquez got to defeating the Filipino superstar was a 2004 draw, in a fight that saw him get off the canvas three times in the very first round.
Marquez's only loss since the 2008 bout with Pacquiao was a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr, who is arguably the second best boxer in the sport.
This in-depth preview will give a closer look as to what fans should expect to see come fight night.
Manny Pacquiao is the younger of the two by six years, but the 32-year-old started fighting less than two years after Marquez, 38, who made his professional debut in 1993.
Their records are similar, Pacquiao comes into the bout at 53-3-2 with 38 knockouts (65 percent) and Marquez comes in at 53-5-1, 39 KO (66 percent).
Marquez has the edge in terms of total rounds boxed at 432, but this isn't always the best thing for an older fighter who has been into deep waters many more times than his opponent. In this case, Pacquiao has boxed 341 total rounds in comparison.
Their height and reach are almost identical, with Marquez holding a half-inch height advantage at 5'7", but having the same reach at 67".
Since they last fought in 2008, Pacquiao has gone 7-0 with wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and David Diaz.
Marquez has gone 5-1 with wins over Juan Diaz (x2), Michael Katsidis, Joel Casamayor and Likar Ramos. His loss was against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The bout will be fought at a catchweight of 144 pounds.
Even with four knockdowns scored over 24 rounds of boxing, Pacquiao still hasn't managed to get a definitive victory over Marquez. The Mexican has one of the best chins in the sport, and is one of the greatest boxers at making in-fight adjustments.
Marquez can make the claim that he has won more rounds against his Filipino rival, and he would be right. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to overcome the four extra points he lost in the two fights, where a victory was only one or two points away each time.
Their first resulted in a draw after Pacquiao knocked down the lightweight champion three times in the first round. Two of the three judges scored the round 10-6 while the third scored it a 10-7.
In the end, the scores were 115-110 for Pacquiao, 115-110 for Marquez and 113-113. The judge who scored the 10-7 first round had the even scorecard.
The 2008 rematch featured Marquez getting dropped in the third round, which would ultimately be the determining factor in Marquez losing a split-decision—with the scores 112-115, 115-112 and 113-114. It was only a week earlier that Marquez saw his brother, Rafael, losing by a single point in his rubber-match versus Israel Vasquez.
The early knockdowns could have swayed the judges opinion on who was winning the majority of the remaining rounds, but Marquez's IQ cannot be second guessed. He proved this by countering everything Pacquiao threw at him to make sure he won more of the remaining rounds.
Maybe the better question is if Pacquiao doesn't score the knockdown or knockout, are we in store for another close and competitive fight that has controversy? Probably.
Marquez has the same advantages he held over Pacquiao in the first two fights in terms of technique, but it's still a question of whether or not that will be enough to beat the ever-evolving Pacquiao.
If he can keep this a boxing match, while avoiding the always threatening power-punches of Pacquiao, he will find himself having a lot more success than if he gets into a fire-fight.
Another advantage he has comes in the form of his trainer, Nacho Berestein, who is one of the most prominent trainers in the sport. He is someone who will make sure Marquez doesn't make the same mistakes twice. If not twice, then he won't make them the third time around.
One of the reasons these two match up so well is that they are very similar in terms of heart and will to win. Neither guy backs down from an exchange, and it's always something that has required each to show an incredible amount of fortitude while trying to win the fight.
The first eight-division world champion comes into this fight with all of the momentum on his side, and that's one of the biggest advantages he can have going into a bout that is likely to go the distance.
In fights with Mosley, Margarito and Clottey, Pacquiao won each with dominant one-sided scorecards, including a 120-108 score on at least one of the judges' scorecards in each of those three fights.
Nobody expects this one to be quite as one-sided as those, but it could end up looking a lot wider than it really was if it goes the full 12 rounds.
Other advantages that Pacquiao has over Marquez are speed and power, and those are things that he has carried into a division that is 15 pounds heavier than where he previously fought Marquez.
Had Marquez been able to defeat the first boxer to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes, many of the accolades that have been a part of Pacquiao's career probably would not have occurred.
His victory over Marquez helped secure his spot as 2008's Fighter of the Year as well as the Fighter of the Decade for the 2000s. With a dominant victory over Marquez, Pacquiao has the chance to make the claim of being 2011's Fighter of the Year.
Even more than that, Pacquiao's No. 1 pound-for-pound spot is on the line, a spot he has owned since Mayweather's first retirement in 2007.
Marquez goes into most of his bouts as an underdog, and he has a chance to upset the odds and get the biggest victory of his career.
With this fight being worth the claim that each boxer should have won the first two, it makes it the most important fight of their careers.
Pacquiao vs. Marquez 1 (May 8, 2004)
Pacquiao's total punches landed/thrown: 148/639 for 23 percent
Marquez's total punches landed/thrown: 158/547 for 29 percent
Pacquiao's total power punches landed/thrown: 100/231
Marquez's total power punches landed/thrown: 122/339
Pacquiao vs. Marquez 2 (Mar. 15, 2008)
Pacquiao's total punches landed/thrown: 157/619 for 25 percent.
Marquez's total punches landed/thrown: 172/511 for 34 percent.
Pacquiao's total jabs landed/thrown: 43/314
Marquez's total jabs landed/thrown: 42/201
Pacquiao's total power punches landed/thrown: 114/305
Marquez's total power punches landed/thrown: 130/310
In the three fights that have gone the distance since his second fight with Marquez, Pacquiao has landed 944 punches and thrown 3027 for 30 percent.
In his two fights that have gone the distance since his second fight with Pacquiao, Marquez has landed 357 and thrown 1255 for 28 percent.
All stats from CompuBox.
Pacquiao's keys to victory are a lot like they were in the first two fights, with him utilizing his power early to possibly score a knockout—or make a quick statement that gets him on the judges' side should the bout end up going the distance.
This is now a more mature version of the Pacman, one that won't let the early success get into his head and make him lose focus when it really matters. An early knockdown in this stage of his career means a knockout is probably soon to follow.
Pacquiao has not only carried his left-hand power over eight weight divisions but has made it stronger as well. He has also improved his technique with the right hand, and this will come into play if he finds Marquez making adjustments to avoid the left that sent him down three times in the first fight.
Pacquiao really has no reason to box Marquez to another close decision because he already won in the same fashion before, and still has people telling him he should have lost the fight. What's the point of going through all of that again if it's unnecessary? The only way Pacquiao really wins is in the fans' eyes, and he knows this.
While remaining much of the same type of boxer for most of his career, it's impressive that Marquez has been able to be as successful with a similar style for so long.
This could translate well into the fight with Pacquiao, and it all comes down to Marquez's ability to counter-punch and not get caught in any wild exchanges. This was something he didn't learn from the first fight, but it should be well placed in his mind going into the third.
Marquez doesn't need to outwork Pacquiao inside, but he does need to make sure the punches he lands count, and land a lot from range. He has talked about getting in the pocket with Pacquiao and exchanging power shots, but this might be a risk not worth taking.
Marquez doesn't need to get a knockout to prove he is the better boxer once and for all, and this is something he can use to his advantage. No matter how it comes, he just needs a victory. Pacquiao is the one who needs to impress.
The fight will be available live on HBO pay-per-view on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 9 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The three-fight undercard includes Timothy Bradley vs. Joel Casamayor, Luis Cruz vs. Juan Carlos Burgos and Mike Alvarado vs. Breidis Prescott. Bradley, Alvarado and Cruz are all undefeated.
The rest of the undercard will be streamed live on toprank.com.
All of the momentum is behind Pacquiao, and unless he chooses to fight a sloppy fight, he should be able to land enough significant punches to win the rounds and secure a unanimous decision victory after 12 rounds.
The real question of whether not not he can become the first man to stop Marquez will probably be answered quickly, as Marquez is likely to not get finished if the fight hits the halfway point.
This is a much more complete Manny Pacquiao than Marquez has seen before and, come fight night, I think he will be surprised to see just how much better he has gotten over the past four years.