While Manny Pacquiao needs a very convincing victory to erase all doubts about his supremacy over nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, it is for the Mexican to register an emphatic win, one that even the Filipino will concede to a defeat, to validate his claim as the more superior fighter.
Pacquiao and Marquez will again match skills and brawn inside the ring tomorrow, December 9 in the Philippines, in one of the most heated boxing rivalries in recent memory.
The fighting Filipino congressman owns two narrow wins over Marquez and an equally hair splitting draw.
Pacquiao no longer has business taking this fourth fight. No matter how much Marquez whines, his two wins over the Mexican are two wins. Narrow as they are, nobody really cried out that the two wins were highway stick-ups like the one Pacquiao suffered in losing to Timothy Bradley.
But Pacquiao needs this fight to regain the lost sheen and redefine himself that, at 33 going on 34 this month, he is still the young hungry fighter that took boxing world by storm some nine years ago in blowing the wits out of Lehlo Ledwaba.
Pacquiao again needs to serve notice that all good things about boxing are coming from the East, including the bad ones. After all, he is the Pacific Storm as the venerable Recah Trinidad wrote in his book with the same title.
However, success in other fields other than boxing has made Pacquiao’s life comfortable – very comfortable – that many are asking whether he is still into boxing as the fighter seeking greater glories or already the opportunist who is content in making the most out of the sports while he is still, along with rival Floyd Mayweather Jr, the top cash cow.
Pacquiao will no longer go to sleep hungry. He will never stow away in a ship as he now owns a yacht and a helicopter, although both are now reportedly not serviceable. He will no longer sleep on the cement floor with just a cartoon box as a mat in dark and rat-infested dingy gyms.
When Manny travels around the world, he gets the posh and swankiest rooms in the house – err – hotels. He can sleep in different houses that he owns and not worry that he hasn’t slept at them twice in a week if he doesn’t want to.
Marquez, he who has given Pacquiao the biggest fits in boxing, needs a victory more than anybody else. More than even Mayweather, to whom Marquez also lost, albeit in a convincing fashion.
Pacquiao is Marquez’ waterloo. But the Filipino is also the one Holy Grail for him.
While he may not live a lavish life like his arch rival when he retires from boxing, Marquez too can now afford to turn his back. At 39, the only thing that keeps him going is the one win that he covets against Pacquiao. That is why he is not taking any chances the way he has bulked up for this fight. Marquez cannot afford another close decision to taint his legacy unless he is into this fight just for the money. The Mexican pride in him tells us that he will be there for the glory and nothing else.
The burden therefore lies in Marquez to bring this one final fight into a decisive and conclusive ending.
It is for this reason alone that I believe Marquez will be more aggressive than in all three previous fights with Pacquiao. But that would be a bad strategy against Pacquiao who lives and dies with aggression.
After all, Pacquiao built his fortune with and out of it.