LAS VEGAS — Some things cannot be.
Of this Juan Manuel Marquez is quite sure but he is even surer of what can be. He is sure he can defeat Manny Pacquiao because in his mind he already has.
According to Marquez, he has done this at least twice and would argue actually all three times they have fought. Despite this fervently held belief in himself and utter disbelief at the vagaries and myopia of Las Vegas’ ringside judges, Marquez will enter the MGM Grand Garden Arena tomorrow night with a 0-2-1 record against Pacquiao.
That harsh reality has done little to impact Marquez’ faith. He believes he long ago figured out how to nullify what Pacquiao does best, using the Filipino’s aggressive style against him time and again, a position Pacquiao’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach does not dispute.
This is not a fight Roach would have selected for Pacquiao, but money dictates all things in boxing with the exception of making a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
So the names of Marquez and Pacquiao have joined the short but noble list of fighters who have faced each other in high profile matches four times or more, a list that includes Marquez’ brother, Rafael, who battled Israel Vazquez four times between 2007-2010, with the two of them splitting those bloody matches.
Every era in history has had these type of rivalries going back as far as Jack Britton vs. Ted “Kid’’ Lewis (20 fights between 1915-21), Gene Tunney and Harry Greb (five times between 1922-25), Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta (six times in the 1940s and ’50s) and Robinson and Gene Fullmer (four fights, 1957-61); Beau Jack and Ike Williams (four times, 1948-55); Willie Pep and Sandy Saddler (four times, 1948-51); Joey Giardello and Dick Tiger (four times, 1959-65); Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles (four times, 1949-52); and more memorable names.
But none have gone quite the way the Marquez-Pacquiao battles have.
In three fights, Marquez has been knocked down four times, yet doesn’t believe he’s lost four rounds to Pacquiao. Maybe he hasn’t. Certainly when you end up with a draw, a split decision and a majority decision, and not once have the judges come down on your side, it is difficult to accept and not much of a leap to convince yourself you can do what others have said you have not. Because, well, says who?
“Right after the last fight I was very upset,” admits Marquez, when asked about a majority decision loss that few at ringside outside of two judges felt was accurate. “I thought, ‘What’s the point?’
“But I sat down with my team and my family and we decided maybe there’s an opportunity for a fourth fight. I didn’t think so, but here we are. I hope this time the judges see what’s happening in the ring. It’s important none of these (judges) have judged a Manny fight (before) or one of my fights. They’ll see it differently.”
So he hopes because the likelihood this fight will create any measurable difference between them is unlikely. If they are not equals, they are so close it has become nigh impossible to define the difference — beyond the stylistic — between them.
That is why they are back together again, each hoping they can end this fight without the need for judges’ pencils to intervene. Roach said several days ago that if this fight ends with a knockout “all the close fights (before) would go to that person. Everyone would love a knockout.’’
Perhaps no one more so than Marquez, who in controversial fashion teamed up with Angel “Memo” Heredia, the disgraced steroids dealer who became a federal witness in the BALCO case that ensnared Barry Bonds and many other baseball players, Olympians and boxers.
Heredia insists he’s now an anti-doping advocate, but his shadow has spread across Marquez even though he has agreed to take any type of blood or urine test the Nevada commission mandates.
Of course, they don’t mandate much and everyone knows it. So it goes. Pacquiao, too, has been the subject of such rumors in the past, so perhaps it doesn’t matter.
Certainly all that matters to Marquez is that he finally gets what he believes he long ago deserved — a victory over an opponent he says he respects, but with whom some things are impossible.
“We are professionals,” Marquez said when asked if one day he might embrace Pacquiao as a friend as well as a respected foe. “We respect each other as professional boxers but after what we’ve gone through the first three fights I doubt we can have that kind of relationship.
“Inside the ring is a respect that will always be there. Outside the ring, who knows?”
Juan Manuel Marquez neither knows nor cares. His interest is not in the impossible, but in the possible. And the one thing he believes possible is the only thing that will count tomorrow night.
Juan Manuel Marquez believes he can win . . . again.