This weekend brings another "big fight"—the third, and probably final, edition of Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez. As amazing as their previous two classics were, I expect this to be a bloody mismatch in favor of the much quicker, more powerful and more skilled Pac-man.
Marquez is a small lightweight who was dropped by Michael Katsidis and Juan Diaz in bouts at 135 lbs. How he's going to handle absorbing blows from a hard-hitting welterweight with a history of punishing bigger men in Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, etc. is beyond me.
Genetically, the opponent Marquez will be in with on Saturday is indeed the same man he fought and arguably should have outpointed in 2004 and 2008. Physically and mentally, Pacquiao has only gotten bigger and stronger. If Marquez takes the same punches he took in the first two fights, there's no chance he'll be able to recover and duplicate his previous efforts.
I like Pacquiao by either TKO within six rounds or an easy points win featuring a knockdown or two. I love Juan Manuel Marquez but he's simply too small to compete with the 2011 version of Manny Pacquiao.
The undercard for Pacquiao-Marquez III leaves a lot to be desired. Timothy Bradley makes his long-awaited (not sure by who, but what the hell?) return to the ring to face faded, well-past-his-prime former lightweight champion Joel Cassamayor. You guys thought Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson was ugly? Just wait for this stinker.
Bradley's not one of my favorite cats, I'll come right out and admit that. I was irked that after all the smack-talk, all the buildup, he balked at facing his only logical opponent Amir Khan on July 23, turning down an incredibly generous offer that would've earned him in the ballpark of $1.5 million dollars. Instead, we were left with the farce that was Khan-Zab Judah and now Bradley comes back with this pile of garbage.
Cassamayor, whose best days were at lightweight five years ago, is simply not a suitable opponent for the man calling himself the best junior-welterweight in the world and a potential future matchup for (gulp) Manny Pacquiao.
On Saturday night, beneath the Pacquiao and Bradley fights, we'll also be treated to a junior-welterweight contest between up-and-coming contender Mike Alvarado and one-time Khan slayer Breidis Prescott. Again, I have some objections to this fight. Prescott did land a cracking right hand that crushed Khan and handed the #1 ranked junior-welterweight his lone defeat (at lightweight in 2008). But the thing you gotta remember about Prescott: he's just not that good.
Prescott's known as a power-puncher but he's gone the distance in five out of his last six, with a record of 3-3. Most recently, he was defeated on points by Paul McCloskey, a slippery, technical fighter best known for one of the worst performances of the year in April against Khan. McCloskey made David Haye look like Arturo Gatti. He was terrible, outclassed in every conceivable way even on an off night from Khan.
Mike Alvarado meanwhile is 31-0 and 31 years old. He's been a top-10 ranked contender in the division for a while now. Beating Prescott does nothing for him. Basically, this is a very poor man's Danny Garcia vs. Kendall Holt. I like Alvarado by decision.
Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi, an outrageous character and skilled boxer, is looking for an opponent, and the likely suspects are Devon Alexander and Marcos Maidana, with Alexander appearing the favorite. A lot of people hate that fight. I don't mind it at all, especially as a rumored undercard to Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto 2. I find Malignaggi's antics entertaining and I like the notion of two quick boxer types dueling it out.
It seemed like Maidana-Malignaggi got a more positive response from the fans. Now of course I'd watch that fight. But I'm not particularly interested in it. Will Malignaggi outbox Maidana or will the brawler from Argentina kick the crap out of Paulie, a fighter with too much heart in the past? You know what? I don't really care. Because I think both outcomes are possible and neither would really tell me much I don't already know. Much rather see Maidana vs. any of the following: Brandon Rios, Robert Guerrero, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Victor Ortiz, and even an unnecessary rematch with Amir Khan.
It was very sad to hear that Smokin' Joe Frazier passed away yesterday at the age of 67. He was obviously one of the all-time greats, an embodiment of courage and ferocity in the ring, and a gentle, thoughtful, amicable guy outside of it. Muhammad Ali is one of my all-time favorite fighters but there's no question he crossed the line with his despicable taunting of Frazier in the lead-up to their third fight in the Phillipines. Ironically, if anyone had claims to the blue-collar, working-man roots it was Frazier, the son of a sharecropper in South Carolina in one of the poorest towns in the country. Frazier was the everyman, as real as they come, and the way he was depicted by Ali wasn't just vicious and distasteful, it was wildly inaccurate.
Ali has the wins over Sonny Liston, the 'Thrilla in Manila', the 'Rumble in the Jungle'. But generations from now, when people look back at an event from 1971, when two undefeated heavyweights, two of the greatest of all time, both with claims to the championship, met for undisputed supremacy, someone will ask, "Who won the Fight of the Century?" and the answer will always be:
Smokin' Joe Frazier (1944-2011)