Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao will deservedly be a heavy favorite when he takes on "Dinamita" Juan Manuel Marquez for what figures to be the third and final time on Nov. 12, but Marquez is not an opponent Pacquiao can afford to take lightly.
I'm sure Pacquiao is already aware of this, as he has engaged in two incredibly close fights with Marquez already. The two fought to a draw in their first meeting, and Pacquiao was granted a highly controversial split decision victory in their second encounter.
Pacquiao has already played with fire twice, and if he does it again, he is bound to get burned. That is why Pac-Man needs to have a very clear strategy heading into the fight. Here are three things Pacquiao must do to avoid what would be an absolutely crippling upset loss.
Stick to the Game Plan
While Juan Manuel Marquez isn't a particularly overpowering or dominant boxer at this point in his career, he is just that, a boxer. Marquez has been in all types of situations in his career, and won't likely be surprised by anything Pacquiao does. The wily, old veteran can also be very frustrating to fight against, but Pacquiao will have to push through it.
It is conceivable that Pac-Man will have trouble executing early on in the fight, but he can't stray from what usually works. Marquez is quite good defensively, and may be a bit evasive to start, but Pacquiao is ultimately on top of his game while Marquez is somewhat in decline. With that in mind, if Pacquiao fights his fight, he should be just fine.
If you remain complacent against Juan Manuel Marquez, he is the type of fighter that can point you to death and steal a fight. He nearly did it twice, in fact, to Manny Pacquiao. It is safe to say that the only reason why Pacquiao was able to win their second bout was because of an early knockdown. That isn't to say he should actively seek a knockdown or knockout, but he shouldn't lay back either.
Pacquiao is aggressive by nature, so this shouldn't be a problem, but fighters tend to get out of their element at times in big situations. If Pacquiao takes his foot off the pedal even a bit, then it will open the door a crack for Marquez. There is no question that Marquez can steal some rounds, so Pacquiao has to make sure the judges know he is the aggressor.
Don't Leave Any Doubt
In the first two contests between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, there was reasonable doubt with regards to who actually won the fights. Because of that, the results were a draw and a much-debated split decision win for Pac-Man. His struggles against Marquez would seem to be the only true blemish on Pacquiao's career to this point, so he will have to make it known to everyone who the winner is on Nov. 12.
This could mean a knockout, as that is as definitive as it gets, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. If Pacquiao pummels Marquez throughout the fight, clearly wins the majority of the rounds and wins easily by unanimous decision, then that will suffice as well. Basically, Pac-Man simply needs to make sure that there is no way even a single judge could consider scoring the bout in Marquez's favor. If he does that, then it will be yet another feather in the cap that is his fine career.