Manny Pacquiao may well swarm all over Juan Manuel Marquez and stop him in three or four rounds Saturday when they meet for the fourth time (HBO pay-per-view).
But it’s more likely the fight will go 12 rounds, as did the previous three, a draw and two very narrow victories for Pacquiao. And a decision is all too likely to go Marquez’s way this time.
That’s especially true if the fight is anything like the third one, 13 months ago. Pacquiao sort of got the benefit of the doubt in a bout that could have gone the other way, given the showy barrage of counter right crosses Marquez landed. Both have fought once since then, Marquez (54-6-1, 39 knockouts) winning an April tuneup easily but Pacquiao 54-4-2, 38 knockouts), boxing impressively but not percussively, lost a shocking split decision to Timothy Bradley in June.
Pacquiao says he needs to step it up more against Marquez this time, but that would put him in danger of the same scenario as last November if he doesn’t land a thunderbolt -- and he isn’t landing those in every fight anymore. Given the muscle Marquez appears to have added for this welterweight for Saturday’s bout, he may be the more dangerous of the two.
Although Marquez is 39 and Pacquiao’s 34th birthday is this month, Pacquiao is the one whose breakneck-pace lifestyle might have more impact on his boxing resolve, positive and negative.
I used to say Pacquiao would bow out of boxing at age 33, and that was before he became an actual congressman in the Philippines who seems eminently believable when he says, frequently, “I want to help my people.” He’s reaching the point where his politics can have more impact than his punches, which is saying a lot.
Nobody can multi-task at a fever pitch indefinitely. There’s been another heartbreaking typhoon in the Philippines this week, and if it makes us feel bad, imagine how it’s impacting Pacquiao. He’s involved, you’d best believe.