Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has never looked so motivated to trainer Freddie Roach as he has in training to fight Juan Manuel Marquez next week and silence the Mexican fighter’s taunts.
Pacquiao defends his WBO welterweight crown against Marquez on Nov. 12 in Las Vegas, the third fight in a trilogy that began with a 2004 draw and continued when “Pac Man” won a 2008 split decision.
With one point on one judge’s scorecard all that has separated the fighters through 24 rounds, Marquez has long argued he beat Pacquiao twice, even wearing a shirt that said: “I beat Pacquiao twice” to a pre-fight appearance in Manila.
“He’s claiming he was robbed in the last two fights. This third fight will be the answer to all of that,” Pacquiao said on Wednesday. “I’m not saying I’m going to knock him out, but I have trained very hard for this fight. Whatever comes will come now. I have put in the hard work. I’m ready for this fight.”
A photograph of Marquez adorns a wall behind the punching bag at the Los Angeles-area gymnasium where Pacquiao works out, a constant reminder and motivating force for the Philippine congressman.
“I’ve never seen him as motivated as I have for this fight,” Roach said. “Marquez went to the Philippines and embarrassed him, said a few things. That has pushed him to work harder in training camp. Manny Pacquiao is on fire right now. He’s training very well. He has a little spark.”
Pacquiao, 53-3 with two draws and 38 knockouts, has won 14 successive fights and seven in a row since his narrow decision over Marquez, the closest fight of his current run, which has seen victories over Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley.
And the southpaw star expects this fight with Marquez to be more intense than the previous thrillers.
“I believe this fight will be a much more exciting fight,” Pacquiao said. “His style and mine are very similar. There is going to be a lot of boxing in the ring. I use my power better. He is improving. So it’s going to be better. I never underestimate Marquez. I train hard for this fight. I feel strong. In the last four years I’ve changed a lot.”
Marquez, 53-5 with one draw and 39 knockouts, is 5-1 since losing to Pacquiao, the only loss coming by unanimous decision to unbeaten US star Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2009 in Marquez’s only prior welterweight outing before Pacquiao.
“He looks like he’s working hard. He’s bigger and stronger,” Roach said. “He has changed his style a little bit. He needs to, because we’re working hard to beat him. Manny is ready. If he wants to come at him, we’ll be ready.”
Meanwhile, Marquez defended himself as doping clouds arose on Wednesday after his strength coach was revealed to be among those involved in a major doping scandal that stung US athletics.
Marquez said his larger and stronger form at age 38 compared to a 2004 draw and narrow 2008 loss to the Pacquiao came from hard work and not banned substances.
“Whatever doping they want to do — blood, Olympian — whatever they want to do, I’ll do it, as long as he does it too,” Marquez said through a translator.
Victor Conte, whose BALCO products were at the center of a major doping scandal, revealed in a Twitter posting on Monday that Marquez’s strength and conditioning coach was Angel Heredia, who testified in a doping investigation.
Heredia admitted providing banned performance-enhancing substances to Trevor Graham, former coach of disgraced former stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery among others.