Pacquiao vs. Marquez: Timeline of Epic Boxing Rivalry

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  (L-R) Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez stand face-to-face onstage in front of the media cameras during the Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez - Press Conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on September 17, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are prepared to battle for the fourth time on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 9 p.m. ET at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.

It's developed into one of the best rivalries of the past decade, mostly due to the high level of competitiveness in the first three meetings.

A quick glance would reveal a 2-0-1 record for Pac-Man, but that doesn't even begin to tell the story. All three fights have been decided by razor-thin margins and could have easily gone Marquez's way. His camp would argue they should have.

Even though Marquez's defensive style of fighting doesn't always lend itself to the most exciting bouts, the closeness of the rivalry keeps fans coming back for more. With that in mind, let's take a look back at the first three fights in preparation for the much-anticipated fourth encounter.

First Bout: May 8, 2004 (Draw)

The first fight took place before Pacquiao was the household name he is today. It was just the second time he fought in Las Vegas, and he didn't have many marquee victories. Marquez was a little more established, having fought in the U.S. for a decade.

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Pacquiao came out flying. He made an immediate statement in the first round by knocking down Marquez three times, and it didn't seem like the fight was going to last much longer. But the wily Dinamita regrouped quickly.

It was the first turning point in the rivalry. Marquez quickly found out he wasn't capable of using a shot-for-shot approach with Pac-Man. He shifted to a more defensive, counterattacking style, and he has been employing it against him ever since.

Marquez was able to regain his composure, slow down Pacquiao and fight all the way back to earn a draw. It was a terrific performance from both boxers. Fans didn't know it at the time, but it was a sign of things to come.

Second Bout: March 15, 2008 (Pacquiao by split decision)

Four years later, their paths crossed again. A fight for the WBC super featherweight title featured more of the same, with both fighters landing some big shots. But yet again, neither guy was able to score the decisive knockout they were looking for.

Marquez was the more efficient fighter. He picked his spots to attack carefully, and he landed 34 percent of his punches (BoxRec.com), which was nine percent higher than Pacquiao. Pac-Man was more aggressive, though.

Ultimately, Pacquiao picked up the victory by split decision with two judges in his favor and one in favor of Marquez. Knocking Dinamita down in the third round ended up being the difference. Without it, another draw was the likely result.

By the late stage of this fight, it became clear the two fighters were perfect opponents. The contrasting styles ensured neither fighter was able to gain a clear advantage, adding to the intrigue. So it's no surprise they would continue to feud.

Third Bout: November 12, 2011 (Pacquiao by majority decision)

The third fight came just over a year ago, and the main storylines remained the same. Pacquiao attempted to set the pace, Marquez waited for his opportunities to turn the tide and the rivals went at it for 12 more rounds.

It was interesting because Marquez seemed more involved than he was in the previous two encounters. It led fans at MGM Grand Garden Arena to be surprised when it was announced Pac-Man had scored another victory over his rival.

That being said, the numbers ended up favoring Pacquiao, which lessened the outrage over time. He landed more punches and power punches (BoxRec.com) while also closing the efficiency gap. It was close, but he deserved the win.

And that sets the table for the fourth matchup. Pacquiao will be looking for the elusive knockout, meaning he'll have to be more aggressive. That could end up playing right into Marquez's hands. History tells us to expect another close battle.

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