Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez: 10 Things Marquez Must Do to Win
The odds are stacked against Juan Manuel Marquez, no question. But a win isn't impossible.
In his next fight, this upcoming Saturday against Manny Pacquiao, Marquez has a chance to establish himself as arguably the greatest Mexican fighter ever by pulling off a win greater than Julio Cesar Chavez was ever able to.
Marquez has given Pacquiao fits in two previous fights, both of which were narrow decisions and the toughest outings Pacquiao has had in the past six years.
Here is a list of 10 things Marquez must do to defeat Pacquiao on Saturday.
Make Sure It Doesn't Go to the Judges
Judges will be under tremendous pressure not to award a decision to Marquez.
Yes, ideally we'd like to think that judges are objective and won't award a decision based on a fighter's popularity, but there is just too much riding on the hype surrounding a potential Pacquiao-Mayweather matchup for any boxing observer to award Pacquiao's opponent a close fight.
Do you remember Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Sturm? That was a fight kind of like this, although on a smaller scale. Most objective observers thought Sturm deserved to win the fight. He was beating De La Hoya to the punch, and after the first few rounds, he caught on to De La Hoya's tendency to try to "steal a round" by landing a flurry in the last 10 seconds.
But all three judges scored it 115-113 for De La Hoya. Why? Because in his next bout, De La Hoya was scheduled to face Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins ended up winning on a vicious body punch that KO'd De La Hoya in the ninth round.
Marquez should try to ensure that the judges don't decide who wins this fight, or he'll be disappointed with the result.
Avoid Being Knocked Down
Marquez has never been knocked out in his career before, but he does have a tendency to kiss the canvas, especially against Pacquiao.
I can remember six distinct knockdowns of Marquez—three in the first Pacquiao fight, one in their second bout, one against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and one against Michael Katsidis.
Against Manny Pacquiao, especially with the judging situation I described earlier, Marquez cannot afford to be knocked down. A knockdown gives Pacquiao at least a 10-8 round, and would mean that Marquez now needs to win more than half the rounds to pull off a decision.
A knockdown was the difference in the second fight (and the first round was the difference in the first one), so hopefully Marquez has learned his lesson.
Hurt Pacquiao with Flurries
Pacquiao is faster than Marquez, and given his familiarity with the weight division, will probably be stronger than Marquez on Saturday too.
This means that, even more so than in the first two fights, Marquez will need to rely on his two main advantages over Pacquiao—counter-punching ability and combination punching.
Nobody has been able to time Pacquiao as well as Marquez has in the past, and Marquez is also a gifted combination puncher. He will need both to beat Pacquiao.
Condition Himself Perfectly
Compared to the last two fights, there are a lot more things working against Marquez this time.
For one, he is 38 years old, which is old for a fighter, even one as talented as Marquez and who has been trained by the great Nacho Beristain (whose fighters are noted for their longevity).
He is also coming up in weight to a division where Pacquiao is far more comfortable—144 pounds. The last time Marquez approached this weight was when he came up to 142 against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Yes, Mayweather came in above the agreed-upon limit, but two pounds wouldn't have changed much. It was clear Marquez had lost something.
So Marquez must condition himself perfectly to make sure he doesn't have a repeat performance of that bout against Pacquiao, who tends to beat Mayweather's opponents more soundly than Mayweather does.
Hope His Recent History Understates His Dominance
I agree that Marquez deserves to be ranked in the top five pound-for-pound right now, which he is. However, some of his recent victories have looked less impressive in the rearview mirror, as his recent opponents have all faltered in their subsequent bouts.
Juan Diaz turned out not to be the fighter we thought he was. Michael Katsidis hasn't fared well in recent fights against Ricky Burns and Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero. Joel Casamayor hasn't looked great either.
In fact, if you look at the record of Marquez since his last Pacquiao fight, there are no marquee victories that justify his being able to hang with Pacquiao for 12 rounds. Let's hope that Marquez's recent opponents' foibles have caused us to underappreciate the dominance of "Dinamita."
Hope for a Pacquiao Injury
We'll never know the extent to which Pacquiao's injuries slowed him down in the Mosley bout, because Mosley was a shell of his former self during that fight.
However, one of the best case scenarios for Marquez will be a Pacquiao injury, which would open up an opportunity for Marquez to seize the moment.
Pacquiao trains well, so it's an outside possibility, but could be one of Marquez's best chances.
If there's one thing that gives Pacquiao fits, it's people disrupting his timing.
Marquez is gifted in this area. He has a knack for being able to land a jab while the opponent is in the middle of his rhythmic motions, so that an opponent can never establish timing. Marco Antonio Barrera had it too, but I think Marquez is better than Barrera ever was in this regard.
Pacquiao is not invincible—he is more gifted than most fighters, but can be broken down in the right circumstances, which Marquez and Erik Morales are familiar with.
For all of Marquez's legendary warrior spirit, it is widely believed that Pacquiao will win a slugfest.
Marquez is a talented, cerebral fighter, and would be well-served to turn this into a boxing match, and not a slugging match. This is especially true given the power difference that will exist in this bout.
Don't Be Too Macho
Ring announcer Lupe Contreras has a famous catch phrase: "¿Quien es mas macho?"
It should be noted, however, that sometimes this question isn't synonymous with: "Who will win?"
Marquez has guts. Everyone who has seen him knows this.
But he'd be well-served not to make too big a point of this. Why? Because that can only get him in trouble against Pacquiao, who is faster and more powerful.
It's a fine line for Marquez, who probably wants to win by KO, and needs to conclusively win rounds to get credit for them from the judges. However, being too headstrong doesn't work against Pacquiao, either. Pacquiao can change fighters mid-fight, by rocking them early.
Rise to the Occasion
With all that I've said, it's hard to discount Marquez against Pacquiao. Since 2005, nobody has fought Pac-Man better than Juan Manuel Marquez has.
He has to make sure not to abandon the things that made him Pacquiao's marquee foe. There are a lot worse ways to fight Pacquiao than the way Marquez did the first two times.
But neither of those times was enough, and to win, Marquez must rise to the occasion and perform better than he has ever performed before. His counter punches must be crisper, his ring generalship must be more commanding, his legs and chin must be sturdier.
In the end, that might be the only way for Marquez to get a credible win and silence the critics.
A win could make Marquez the most legendary Mexican fighter of all time. Julio Cesar Chavez never had a win as big as this one could be.