Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pacquiao and Marquez Begin To Make This Third Fight Interesting

By Rich Mancuso

Juan Manuel Marquez believes he won the first two fights with Manny Pacquiao, though that is still a discussion with fans and media, and of course Pacquiao will think the same. Either way their upcoming fight, a week from Saturday televised on HBO Pay-Per-View is getting more interesting.

And what came from separate media conference calls by the two fighters on Wednesday, one by Pacquiao earlier in the day, and Marquez in the early evening, revealed something more interesting. Pacquiao has a vindictive demeanor with Marquez because of the previous fights. He is more motivated, according to trainer Freddie Roach, stronger and made adjustments. Marquez is confident, feels this was the fight fans demanded, and now amid controversy.

Steroids, usually associated with Pacquiao, are now subjects that Marquez has to address. His strength and conditioning coach Angel Hernandez has been associated with Balco head Victor Conte The subject came up after Marquez revealed a body on HBO’s “24/7” series that resembled the look of a steroid user. Hernandez, once under a different name testified in the Balco 2008 trial, which implicated Conte, that he sold banned substances to Olympic sprinters.

The steroid issue is sensitive, even more because Pacquiao has been the subject of constant rumors. It was an issue made more by Floyd Mayweather Jr, for a fight that never happened with Pacquiao. Since then, Pacquiao has made it known he is willing to take an Olympic type drug test. But when a reporter questioned Marquez about the irony of a Balco name associated with him, the promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank came to his defense.

“Conte and Hernandez were implicated because of the steroid case and the two are least likely to mess with steroids,” said Arum who quickly put an end to the issue and bumped the reporter from making steroids a topic for the upcoming fight. “People know now, conditioned athletes know better about steroids,”
he said, adding that new methods are used for conditioning of athletes that are legal.

Arum made it clear, “We agreed about Olympic style drug testing, two years. Manny Pacquiao said he will do it.”

Marquez is doing his best to stay away from allegations that he is now the focus of a controversy that has always been the center of attention around Pacquiao. That Hernandez, Conte, and, Balco implications would not distract him from making it definite that he will be victorious over Manny Pacquiao. True, the fight had interest. Pacquiao always develops a buzz for the sport when he fights two or three times a year. And it is a trilogy that should have a definite outcome.

“There are other ways to get stronger,” commented Marquez. “The right way and I don’t have any doubt about doing it the right way.”

There is a sense that Pacquiao wants this win to be more important than a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. that may never come, or will it? Because Mayweather made the fight more interesting later in the day when his adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, said Mayweather was returning to the ring May 5th and “looking to make the biggest fight possible and everyone knows what that fight is, the little fella.”

Leave it to Mayweather to calm the storm, ironic, because there was no longer room to center on a steroid issue with Marquez. And “the little fella” is Pacquiao who had nothing to say regarding the much talked about meeting with Mayweather, a fight guaranteed to be the most lucrative pay-per-view fight in boxing.

“This third fight will be the answer to whether or not Marquez got robbed in the other two fights,” said Pacquiao. “I never underestimate Marquez. There is a big difference in me today. I have changed an improved a lot of areas and I’m more dangerous now. I think I’m a lot better now. My power has made a big difference.”

Marquez is aware of the power. Pacquiao has improved his right hook and Marquez says he has improved when exchanging punches. “We found he has a better right and we plan to take that weapon away,” he says. And Marquez does not hide the fact what Pacquiao has achieved since their last encounters. He knows that Pacquiao is a much improved fighter.

To answers about the previous fights, Marquez said, “They said they won the last two fights. They can say what they want. We feel the same way and that’s the way you should go into a fight. Now the third fight will shed any doubt about who the best fighter is.” Marquez is using the previous outcomes as a motivational tool, and Pacquiao wants the debate to conclude.

At 38- years of age, even if the body looks stronger, Marquez leaves no doubts. “Age has nothing to do with it,” he says. “As long as I had a good training camp I’ll be prepared. It will be a real war between us.”

“I think he’ll fight like he’s 24,” claims Nacho Beristain. The trainer of Marquez has also seen a more intense Marquez in camp and said Pacquiao has become a better technical fighter.

Marquez said, “I would rather fight Pacquiao three or four more times than to fight Mayweather again. Mayweather doesn’t fight, we know Pacquiao fights.” And this has nothing to do with Marquez and opening an issue of avoiding Mayweather again. A third fight with Pacquiao is what he has. A resolution will come, and hopefully without controversy.

But the outcome will be more interesting because of what Mayweather said. Until then it was Pacquiao and Marquez for a third time. And now this championship fight is even more interesting.

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