The fledgling sport of boxing is fighting for its life and, as such, will need Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez to put on a show for the fans—if for no other reason than to steal the spotlight from the UFC Heavyweight Championship bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos on FOX.
Both big bouts will be competing for viewership on Saturday night, with Velasquez and JDS set to finish settling their score in Anaheim before Pac-Man and Dinamita step between the ropes at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. That timing will allow most of the same fans to flip from one to other, especially since the UFC showcase will be available on free TV.
Hence, savvy fighting fans will be able to get twice the action for the price of one pay-per-view buy, with viewing access to Pacquiao-Marquez set at $54.95 for the regular package and $64.95 for the high-definition version.
The key, then, will be for Pacquiao and Marquez to make sure that those boxing fans who plunk down good money for their fight feel that it was well spent at the end of the day.
By all accounts, that should be the case. The first two meetings between these foes were noteworthy spectacles in the boxing world. They fought to a draw in 2004, when Pacquiao knocked Marquez down three times in the early rounds before the legendary Mexican champion battled his way back to an even finish on the judges' scorecards. The story was much the same the second time around in 2008, as Marquez dominated the later rounds but couldn't quite overcome an early knockdown to avoid a loss.
Pacquiao has only improved as a fighter in the years since that first matchup. In the seven-and-a-half years since Pacquiao first touched gloves with Marquez, he's defeated the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Shane Moseley and Antonio Margarito, all while moving up from super featherweight to welterweight, to assert himself as arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now.
Marquez, on the other hand, is no longer in his prime quite like he was during his first two fights against Pac-Man. He's currently 38, and while his speed and agility haven't appeared too greatly diminished in his recent fights, he wasn't exactly a fast-fisted fighter to begin with. What's more, Marquez checked in at 142 pounds at the weigh-in on Friday, looking bigger and bulkier in the upper body.
That might sound like a good thing until you consider that this will be the heaviest weight at which Marquez has fought since he took on Floyd Mayweather Jr. at 144 pounds in a bout that Money May dominated from start to finish.
Granted, Marquez's embarrassing performance in that one could just as easily be chalked up to the fact that Mayweather is a poor matchup for him, stylistically, though the concern remains.
And if Marquez comes out with a stinker against Pacquiao this time around, then what incentive will fighting fans, on the fence between boxing and MMA, have to spend their hard-earned cash on another boring bout when they could just as easily drop it on an exciting UFC card, or even watch that same MMA action for free on FOX?
That's the pull that boxing is up against—the very same pull that the sport will need a good fight between Pacquiao and Marquez on its side for if it's going to survive in a tug-of-war with the UFC.
For the latest news and updates on Pacquiao Vs. Marquez, and for all the latest news and insight on all things boxing, be sure to check out Bleacher Report's Boxing Central.
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