Saturday, March 15, 2008 | 2 a.m.
- Principals: Manny Pacquiao (45-3-2, 34 KOs) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (48-3-1, 35 KOs)
- At stake: Marquez’s WBC super featherweight title
- Time/site: Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center; main card begins at 6 p.m.
- Tickets: Near-sellout at $100 to $600, mandalaybay.com
- TV: HBO pay-per-view, $49.95
- Promoters: Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, in association with Romanza Boxing Productions and MP Promotions
- Featured undercard bouts: Steven Luevano (34-1, 15 KOs) vs. Terdsak Jandaeng (29-2, 19 KOs), 12 rounds, WBO featherweight title; David Diaz (33-1-1, 17 KOs) vs. Ramon Montano (14-3-2, 0 KOs), 10 rounds, lightweights; Abner Mares (15-0, 9 KOs) vs. Diosdado Gabi (30-3-1, 22 KOs), 12 rounds, bantamweights
- Betting line: Pacquiao minus-230, Marquez plus-190; will go 12 full rounds minus-175, won’t go plus-155
- Undercard betting line: Luevano minus-800, Jandaeng plus-500
1. Long wait
If any fight demanded a rematch, it was the first meeting between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, on May 8, 2004. Pacquiao floored Marquez three times in the first round, but Marquez eked out a 12-round draw at the MGM Grand. On the judges’ scorecards, John Stewart had it 115-110 for Pacquiao, Guy Jutras had it 115-110 for Marquez, and Burt Clements had it 113-113 after scoring the first round 10-7 instead of 10-6. “I wanted an immediate rematch,” said Pacquiao, who has since established himself as a pay-per-view star as well as a national hero in his native Philippines. “I’m very excited for this fight. I want to finish this business.”
2. ‘Manny won’
Top Rank boss Bob Arum now promotes Pacquiao but was Marquez’s promoter for the first fight. He has been critical of Marquez’s management, saying the fighter received bad advice about holding out for more money, which prevented a rematch from being arranged sooner. Arum said Pacquiao should have been the winner last time. “I was amazed when Marquez got up and carried on and gave a really good account of himself for the rest of the fight,” Arum said. “I thought it was a tremendously gutty performance by Marquez. That being said, other than the fact that a judge made a mistake, Manny won that fight.”
3. Out for revenge
Pacquiao’s impressive record against top Mexican fighters has not gone unnoticed by Marquez, a Mexico City native. Pacquiao has defeated Marco Antonio Barrera twice, by technical knockout in 2003 and by unanimous decision in his most recent fight, in October. Pacquiao beat Erik Morales twice after losing their first encounter and owns victories against Jorge Solis, Oscar Larios, Hector Velazquez and Emmanuel Lucero. “This fight is for my country, my people, and I will win it with my heart,” Marquez said — sounding suspiciously like Barrera before last year’s rematch with Pacquiao.
4. ‘We all know I won’
Marquez, a 15-year professional at age 34, is consistently ranked among boxing’s best fighters pound for pound along with his younger brother, Rafael, who just wrapped up a superb trilogy against Israel Vazquez at super bantamweight. “There’s no rivalry between my brother and I,” said Juan Manuel, who insists he got the best of his first fight against Pacquiao by winning nearly every round but the first. “We all know I won that fight,” he said. “I was happy because the public knew that I truly won that fight.”
5. Moving up
Pacquiao, 29, who turned pro as a 107-pounder in 1995 and fought Marquez the first time at featherweight, said Saturday’s bout will be his final appearance at 130 pounds. He plans to move up to the lightweight division for his next fight, possibly against David Diaz, who fights on Saturday’s undercard. Pacquiao, a natural lefty, credits trainer Freddie Roach with helping him develop a powerful right hand to complement his signature head movement and ferociously aggressive style. Roach, for his part, said Pacquiao was more focused than ever during training camp. “Manny came to camp early and we usually have a rule that we don’t play basketball, and I didn’t even have to worry about it,” Roach said. “He said he didn’t want to play this time because this fight is so important.”