Heading into Pacquiao vs. Marquez III on Nov. 12, Manny Pacquiao is a clear favorite in the betting lines.
But Pacquiao, one of the greatest boxers in history, isn't as sure a thing against Juan Manuel Marquez as it appears.
Remember, Marquez battled Pacquiao to a draw and a split-decision in their first two bouts. And while he didn't win, as some of his T-shirts claim, he's been one of Pacquiao's toughest opponents throughout his career.
What other opponent has caused Pacquiao so much concern? Marquez is responsible for one of the two draws in his career and, in case you didn't know, a split-decision means Pacquiao wasn't a clear victor against Marquez.
The 38-year-old Marquez is pinning his illustrious career on this fight, and his counter-punching ability is one of the reasons he's been such a problem for Pacquiao in the past. Yes, he's older now, but he's never strictly relied on his physical abilities. Marquez has always been a thinker in the ring, constantly analyzing and adapting. That is why he's had such a long career.
Make no mistake about it, Pacquiao isn't taking this fight lightly. He knows Marquez is going to prepare for this fight as if it's his last. That is why trainer Freddie Roach has plastered a photo of Marquez on his mitts, so Marquez (and all his words) stay with Pacquiao up until the fight.
Marquez had so much trouble against Floyd Mayweather Jr. because Mayweather was an even better counter-puncher than he was. He was forced at times to press the action, when he's best staying back and making aggressive opponents pay.
That's why Pacquiao is a much better matchup in terms of style for Marquez. Pacquiao's known as an offensive force, with the power and hand speed to simply devastate opponents. But he's also very aggressive, and that could lead to some big counter-punches from Marquez.
I am still predicting Pacquiao in this fight, but I expect it to be a very close affair.
So close, in fact, that it will be the Fight of the Year.
Boxing fans won't even be thinking of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather by the time this fight is through.