On December 8, the long-standing Pacquiao-Marquez boxing soap opera is expected to end with one big bang! After 36 brutal rounds of give-and-take slam-bang action, both the Pacman and ‘El Dinamita’ have vowed to win in convincing fashion, to show the world that each deserve the accolade as the true victor in this decade’s most talked-about boxing rivalry. Pacman holds a comfortable ‘2 win – 1 draw’ record for their 3-fight saga. But this does not give credit to the drama that has kept us boxing fans on the edge of our seats as we watched this slugathon. And so we have a fourth bout. To once and for all raise the hand of an indisputable winner. This time around, there should be no more whines, no more whimpers, no grumbles, no gripes.
Pacman realizes that he has let his fans down with his less-than-sterling performances in his last three fights. First, he couldn’t finish off a visibly shaken Shane Mosely. Then, he couldn’t convince fans that he had won that World War 3 with Marquez. Finally, he was listless and unspectacular in that so – so loss to Timothy Bradley. The controversy wrapping the third bout with Marquez has been thorny issue that continues to bug him. And Manny believes that this will put him at a disadvantage insofar as judging is concerned. Thus, he has guaranteed a knockout victory, to finally put an end to JuanMa’s bickering, and win back the fans.
Juan Manuel Marquez on the other hand believes that he has not been getting fair treatment from the judges. In his heart, he believes he won all three bouts, yet the judges concluded otherwise. He has vowed not to let the judges decide his fate this time. He knows that this could be his last chance at redemption, before age finally starts to sap his talents. He too has promised to deliver a knockout victory.
Two gifted gladiators. Two strong-willed characters who have had to hurdle countless adversities in order to emerge victorious in life’s struggles. Guaranteed Hall of Famers both. With equally grizzled veterans in their respective corners providing the strategies and tactics. What happens when fire meets fire, when two colossal comets collide?
I see Manny providing the aggression for the most part, daring JuanMa to fight toe-to-toe. JuanMa will be content at looking for openings, back-pedalling, countering, with occasional offensive forays to try to break Manny’s momentum. Since their first fight in May 2004, JuanMa has had 16 fights, only 6 of which were won by knockout. Five of the 6 ko’s had been in the latter stages of the fight. JuanMa knows that his knockout will come from having rained a multitude of hard blows, not from one vicious banger that Manny has time and again showcased. JuanMa will answer Manny’s attacks with 2-to-3 punch combos, yet these will be more of relatively softer whacks meant to wear down an opponent. He will run for the most part.
Manny has seen the best of JuanMa’s combinations as well. He has tasted them, absorbed them, weathered them and even mocked them. He knows that JuanMa can never outslug him. Manny has had 18 fights since their first encounter. Nine of those fights – or a whopping 50% – had ended in spectacular knockouts, with 4 coming in the early rounds, and against clearly far more superior opponents. Both of them know what havoc Manny is capable of unleashing. Manny will be a slugger this time around. He will be a BamBam Rios stalking a hapless Mike Alvarado. He will be willing to trade 2 to 3 paws from JuanMa to give one or 2 power shots of his own. I see JuanMa successful in eluding Manny’s attacks in the early rounds. But only in the early rounds. Soon, it will be his age, and Manny’s constant pressure, that will finally take its toll. And only a lucky punch from JuanMa can stem the Manny tsunami.
JuanMa will seek solace from proper distance. He will stick his jab, he will wait to counterpunch. He will weave a tapestry of exquisite defense with sporadic offense. But Manny will be relentless in hunting down his prey. He will cut JuanMa’s laterals, he will look for the right angles, he will not give JuanMa any breathing room to rest. Attack, attack, attack!!! This time around, I see JuanMa falling on the 5th round.