Philippine southpaw Manny Pacquiao needs a statement victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in the fourth installment of their epic rivalry today to prove once and for all who is the better fighter.
Pacquiao, 33, is to face the 39-year-old Marquez for the fourth time in eight years in a 12-round non-title welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
Trainer Freddie Roach said he has seen a meaner, harder-punching Pacquiao in their sparring sessions at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.
“I think he has the fire underneath him that he used to have,” Roach said. “He has four knockdowns in training camp ... He wasn’t so compassionate in sparring this time.”
Pacquiao, who is also eager to redeem himself after suffering a defeat in his most recent fight to Tim Bradley, is tired of Marquez blaming his failure to win in their series on biased judging.
Marquez claims he won all three fights — although two were scored in favor of Pacquiao and one ended in a draw.
“I think this is the last fight with him,” Pacquiao says. “He always claims he won the fights. So he needs to prove something. You cannot say: ‘Yes, I won the fight,’ when you are always backing off. It is contradictory. If you are claiming you won the fight then you have to press the action.”
Pacquiao and Marquez, of Mexico, have fought a total of 36 rounds, with their most recent fight being 13 months ago. They met for the first time in 2004 for the featherweight title. Marquez survived three early knockdowns to scrape out a draw.
Fast-forward four years and they would meet again at 64kg. Pacquiao was awarded a split decision by the narrowest of margins as one judge gave the victory to Marquez, the second favored Pacquiao and the third gave it to Pacquiao by just one point.
In November last year, Pacquiao won on a majority decision that was roundly booed when it was announced. An incensed Marquez stormed out of the ring, thinking he had won the fight.
“There is not much I can do about the judges,” Marquez says. “I don’t pick them, and I sure don’t know them. There is no doubt in my mind that I won all three previous fights.”
Marquez feels he will finally break through with a victory this time.
“Pacquiao continues to be the best in the world and to finally get a win over him would make me very happy,” he says.