All right fight fans, it is fight week once again with the biggest star in all of boxing returning to the ring to fight his longtime nemesis. The two already fought two fight-of-the-year-worthy wars that had many people debating who actually won those fights.
Yes, of course we are talking about Manny Pacquiao, the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter and the current face of boxing, taking on the great Mexican warrior Juan Manuel Marquez for the third time this Saturday.
To get everyone up to speed, many are viewing this fight as a mismatch for the now larger, heavier Pacquiao, who has adjusted well to the higher weight classes of welterweight and has defeated much larger opponents in the welterweight and even junior middleweight divisions, where he has won impressive title fights.
Marquez, on the other hand, has not had much success climbing up the weight classes as his one and only fight at welterweight showed his power and speed were no where to be found against the master boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Juan's highest peak weight class may have been at 135 pounds, where he was still able to rack up big impressive wins over Casamayor, Diaz and Katsidis, showing that his power was still relevant so much so that he stopped all of those champions.
The big possible factor in this third fight may be Juan's new controversial strength and conditioning trainer Angel Hernandez aka Angel Heredia, who has been linked to notorious illegal performance-enhancing drug scandals among high-profile athletes like Marion Jones, in which he cooperated with federal agents to give up inside information leading to arrests to avoid doing time himself.
Whether Angel's "help" will make a difference in this fight with a much improved, complete, stronger, bigger Pacquiao remains to be seen, but what is already seen is the visible difference in the physique of Marquez. He has never looked so ripped and strong as he does in footage from his training camp at the Romanza gym in Mexico.
For those who need to be briefed, the official record between Pacquiao and Marquez was a controversial draw in their first fight in 2004, which was fought at the 126-pound limit, and an even more controversial split decision for Pacquiao in 2008, which was fought at the 130-pound limit. Saturday's fight is again at welterweight with an agreed upon catchweight at 144 pounds for Manny's WBO welterweight title on the line. Marquez is now much older at 38 while Pacquiao is 32.
Of course, recent publicity has come out from the team of Floyd Mayweather Jr., who had indicated he intends to fight Pacquiao on May 5, 2012. Whether that is indeed true does not really matter. The recent publicity alone will have a profound impact and influence on the politics and business of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight should it go the distance.
Now that we have gotten all of the specifics out of the way, let's turn to the so-called boxing experts here at the Bleacher Report and see what expert boxing wisdom they have in store for us this time around, shall we?
KING J, Bleacher Report Boxing Community Leader/Featured Columnist
Marquez is the greatest Mexican fighter of our time, not to mention one of greatest to ever lace them up. He has the ring IQ of a wizard inside that square circle, but just as important, he has the whole package: speed, power, stamina, defense and can pretty much have his own college of counter punching.
However, the biggest and most impressive talent that Marquez has is having the heart of a lion. Juan has gotten knocked down so hard throughout his career, but each time, he gets up right away from the canvas and fights on even harder. If that doesn't impress you, then nothing will. Juan has never been stopped in his entire legendary career because he is just that good and his heart won't allow him to be knocked out.
Manny is Manny. At the Mayweather/Ortiz fight, I talked with some of the top boxing journalists in the game, and they all feel Manny will utterly destroy Juan without any problems. I disagree, and I think even if he does, it will unfortunately be used against him as I explained in this previous piece.
All the odds, business and politics are against Marquez in this rubber match. So, with that being said, he will need to knock out Pacquiao to win this fight. That will be highly unlikely unless Angel really has some "things" up his sleeve.
Manny will probably take a wide decision victory over Marquez with Dinamita hitting the canvas and getting up multiple times. But you guys all know how I roll: I would prefer to make some money this weekend, so I'll spread a few Benjis on the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th rounds for the singing million dollar Hennessy endorsing Congress Man to be the first ever pugilist to knock out the greatest Mexican champion who finally stopped drinking his own urine.
Mick Akers, Featured Columnist
After a few back-and-forth rounds early on, the power of Manny Pacquiao at welterweight will begin to wear down the normally smaller Juan Manuel Marquez.
By Round 8, I expect Marquez to be feeling the effects of a stronger Pacquiao and primed for a knockout during this round.
My official prediction: Manny Pacquiao by KO in Round 8.
Vitali Shaposhnikov, Featured Columnist
Hmmm, very uninteresting fight. Sure Marquez is a tremendous fighter and gave Manny a run for his money back when they fought, but that was then, and this is now, at 144 pounds. Even if both fighters are on the same page as far as speed and experience goes, the colossal power advantage is in Pacquiao’s favor.
I love "Dinamita," but I see the fight ending in rounds 7-8. I guess I'll go for a Round-8 knockout by Pac Man. If Pacquiao wins the fight but doesnt knock Marquez out, I'll consider Marquez the winner no matter what the scorecards show. Manny is too big.
Michael Dixon, Featured Columnist
Manny Pacquiao will win by unanimous decision 117-114, 117-114, 118-113.
T.J. Mcaloon, Featured Columnist
I'll go with Pacquiao in a split decision.
I think this is the fight that will finally end with a clear winner. There’ll be no question as to who won the fight as I believe Manny Pacquiao will be the first person to stop Marquez. The fight will last longer than people think. Pacquiao is certainly more of an entertainer now and wouldn’t want to end his show prematurely. If anything, the fight will go as far as the seventh round with Pac winning by KO.
Pacquiao by seventh-round KO.
Brin-Jonathon Butler, Featured Columnist
Second-round KO for Pac.
Zachary D. Rymer, Featured Columnist
I have Pac-Man winning this thing via a knockout in the seventh. Freddie Roach says six rounds, but I’m going to give Marquez a little bit more credit than that.
Donald Wood, Featured Columnist
Manny will KO Marquez in the fourth round after JMM starts feeling the heat and leaves a window open that Pac Man will have no problem closing.
James Foley, Featured Columnist
Pacquiao and Marquez waged two of the classic battles of the 2000s. The problem is, Manny has gotten bigger and stronger, added a touch more craft and retained all of his speed and power. Marquez is a small lightweight, and now he’ll be fighting the 145-pound version of Pac Man, considered the best welterweight in the world. I don’t like the matchup one bit for the ultimate warrior Juan Manuel Marquez. I’ve got Pacquiao TKO8 in the first stoppage of JMM’s illustrious career.
Stewart Flaherty, Featured Columnist / 1-Time Prediction Contest Champion
Pac Man is in the latter years his career and so is Marquez, so sadly this will not be as thrilling as the last two fights.
Whereas Marquez has physically slowed, Pac Man has many new demands taking his own time and that will eventually taper his performance.
Neither fighter will hit the canvas, and Pac Man will get enough rounds in the bank early to come away with a points win.
Blake Dreisbach, Featured Columnist / 1-Time Prediction Contest Champion
I wouldn’t be shocked if Marquez won, but Pacquiao is on a roll right now and has looked better against tougher opposition than Marquez as of late. As far as styles go, I still think Pacquiao has an advantage in being the quicker and more powerful boxer. Those two things alone will carry Pacquiao through a 12-round battle with Marquez, but with no questions being left this time around about who should have really won. Pacquiao by unanimous decision (117-111 x3).
Dave Carlson Featured Columnist / 1-Time Prediction Contest Champion
These two always make great fights, and expect another one—but don’t expect it to be as close as the last two. Marquez is fighting at the highest weight of his career (144 is way closer to Pacquiao’s comfort zone), and he is 38 years old.
Marquez deserves to be a top 5 pound-for-pound fighter, but deconstruct his resume since the last Pacquiao fight and it’s not all that impressive: Wins over Casamayor, Diaz, and Katsidis look less impressive now than they did at the time, and other than that, Marquez has a win over a no-name, and a brutal loss to Mayweather.
Pacquiao will be Pacquiao, and Marquez will be the gutsy, talented, technical fighter we expect him to be. Neither guy will knock out the other, but Marquez will go down at least once and Pacquiao will win by a comfortable, conclusive margin. Pacquiao UD: 116-111, 115-112, 118-109
Justin Tate, Featured Columnist
I feel the only things preventing Marquez from being considered evenly matched with his adversary is his age and his last performance at welterweight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. If Marquez is serious about his training to help him adjust to being over 140 pounds, then I think he’s good.
Bernard Hopkins defied his age earlier this year. Glen Johnson has defied his age on numerous occasions. I believe Marquez may do so as well, but I also believe that Pacquiao will get the hard-earned but clear unanimous decision. I don’t feel Marquez will be knocked out. His chin has survived this long and his style even three years later seems made to combat Pacquiao.
Official Prediction: Pacquiao by unanimous decision. 116-112, Pacquiao.
Allan Jiang , Featured Columnist
Pacquiao KO/TKO 9.
So, there you have it fight fans. Another ritual edition is now locked in the books. We shall see who among us are indeed the boxing experts and who will win the prediction contest prizes, becoming a prediction contest champion, and who is nothing more than a prediction contest journeyman or worse—a bum.
The Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III fight is taking place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this Saturday and can be watched live on HBO Pay Per View 6 p.m./9 p.m. (PT/ET)
For all the best fight coverage check out the Bleacher Report Boxing Community.
KING J is the Bleacher Report Boxing Community Leader and Featured Columnist. All official prediction statements were submitted verbatim to him to be used in this collaboration piece.
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