Third Time Is Not the Charm

Written by Frank Zhong at Nov 10, 2011 - 10:36PM ET in Features
In 2008, Marquez had plenty to complain about. He had waited four years to rematch his nemesis, Manny Pacquiao, and once again, he felt cheated in the end.

Many sports writers, including Filipino boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz, believed Juan Manuel Marquez rightfully earned a victory the second time around.

On Saturday, Marquez will get his final chance at redemption and perhaps a large payday.

Opposite Directions
Pacquiao and Marquez have gone in opposite directions since 2008, and really since 2004.

Pacquiao is far more imposing since they last met, while Marquez has become slower, more top heavy, and less steady on his feet. Although Marquez is one of the most fundamentally sound fighters in the game and he puts his combinations together superbly, Marquez is can easily be hit with straight punches down the middle. Juan has also been dropped four times by Pacquiao, three of which were from clean, strong left hand shots.

In their second fight, Marquez was shaken in the later rounds by Pacquiao on an overhand left and was vulnerable on the ropes for several seconds.

Since their last encounter, Marquez has had a few impressive knockouts, including Juan Diaz, and Michael Katsidis. But against Juan Diaz, Marquez was rocked early and against Katsidis, he was dropped and clearly shaken by a left hook.

Pacquiao has heavier hands than Diaz and is a far more fluid. He's also a more dangerous combination puncher than Katsidis. Also, Marquez's recent muscle gain is more likely to hinder him than help him as he looked slower in the training clips on HBO's 24/7. Pacquiao, on the other hand, has been on a strict training regimen with Alex Ariza since summer 2008. Pacquiao was only 29 when he started training with Ariza while Marquez has waited until age 38 to begin to take his conditioning to the next level.And unfortunately for Marquez, its too late now.

Marquez can ill afford to give away a massive speed disadvantage to Pacquiao at this point in his career considering the punishment he has already taken over many fights during his long pro career. And sadly for Marquez, Pacquiao appears to have the same pop and speed he did six months ago while training for Mosley.

In order for Marquez to win this fight, he will have to a) employ a well-timed jab and b) exhibit excellent footwork. Shane Mosley was able to neutralize Manny's attack in the later rounds by circling to Manny's right, and keeping his lead left foot outside of Pacquiao's right. Contrary to some reports, Shane did not run around the ring. He showed good footwork.

From what's being reported, one of Marquez's sparring partners recently asserted Marquez's jab is sharper and quicker than its ever been. Marquez will need to employ a quick, hard jab he can no longer throw right hands consistently without losing balance. Pacquiao dropped Marquez in their last fight precisely because Marquez had poor balance due to leaning in after extending his right hand.

If Marquez can keep himself out of trouble for the first four rounds, he has an excellent chance of going the distance with Pacquiao. However, history tells us that he will not be able to stay out of trouble early and, this time, his resilience and craftiness will not be able to save him from the bigger, stronger, and faster Pacquiao. The Filipino is also a more skillful puncher than he was just three and a half years ago.

Marquez, if he is conservative and reluctant to take risks, risks falling far behind on the scorecards. Shane Mosley showed us the blueprint on how to keep Pacquiao from unloading his combinations. The problem for Marquez is Pacquiao is capable of outworking Marquez and piling up points. The only other real option is to stand and exchange with Pacquiao, which could serve Marquez well because Pacquiao does not move his head well on defense - But neither does Marquez.

In a war of attrition, common logic says the younger, stronger, better-conditioned man will win. Marquez is not slick nor fast enough to stay away from Pacquiao enough to survive the distance. Look for Pacquiao to close the deal within five rounds.

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