By Eric Raskin
The seeds for this fight were planted in two classic battles that remain hotly debated to this day, forcing Pacquiao and Marquez to go the full trilogy route in order to settle matters. Pacquiao has had extraordinary success throughout his career against elite Mexican fighters, but Marquez is different. He has the skills and style to bother Pacquiao like nobody else has been able to, and there’s no questioning Marquez’s heart and determination.
Still, there are many who see Pacquiao having certain edges this time around that he didn’t have in 2004 or 2008. For one, he’s grown comfortable weighing more than 140 pounds and Marquez hasn’t yet, as the tale of the scale from their last several fights shows. The CompuBox numbers were awfully close in the first two fights and, if anything, might have favored Marquez, but there are questions as to whether Marquez can duplicate those numbers at age 38 and weighing 142 pounds.
The strategy behind this fight is fascinating, and experts and fans alike have spoken up with their opinions. You have to respect the expertise of Hall of Fame trainer and manager Emanuel Steward, who put a spotlight on three keys to the fight for each man. Trainers Freddie Roach and Nacho Beristain also had their say on strategic elements to look for. Former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones offered his take, and HBO.com writers Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney crunched the numbers and weighed in as well. And if you want the ultimate insights, go to guys who’ve been in the ring and experienced the greatness of Pacquiao first-hand. David Diaz offered a revealing, extremely honest take on how it feels to fight the Filipino icon, while Sports Illustrated spoke with Pac-Man’s sparring partners about the experience.
Beyond the punches and parries, there are the personalities. We welcomed Pacquiao and Marquez into our living rooms the past month on 24/7. At the final press conference, we witnessed the professionalism and respect these warriors share. There’s no denying that Pacquiao’s fans are out in force and loving him more than ever, and they’ve taken to Twitter to express themselves. @edrosa is ready for a party at the MGM Grand, @Jamike007 thinks Manny holds key advantages over Marquez, and @wilriv doesn’t think there’s anything Marquez can do to avoid defeat. But an upset is always possible, and @stephenmcelrone isn’t counting Marquez out.
Still have some link-clicking left in your fingers? There’s more to this pay-per-view than just the main event, with three undercard fights putting undefeated records on the line. If you’d rather focus on the main event and happen to have a short attention span, you can get the whole story in 59 seconds. And if you lean the other way and want to spend hours reading more and more about tonight’s showdown, the outstanding The Queensberry Rules boxing blog supplements all of the links here with even more links!
So cram in all the great writing and videos while you still can, because that first bell is about to ring …