Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Juan Manuel Marquez doesn’t want his boxing career to be defined by what happens Saturday when he takes on nemesis Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight bout at the MGM Grand.
But, considering it will be the fourth meeting in the heated series between the two, giving Marquez another chance to avenge controversial results from the past contests, it’s easy to understand why several will remember his career for the showdowns with Pacquiao.
Their initial meeting was scored a draw in 2004; Pacquiao won by split decision in 2008 and by majority decision last November — a result that sent several in the pro-Marquez crowd into a chorus of boos in protest.
Come Saturday, however, Marquez could have the last laugh.
“Obviously, I come to win and I want to win,” Marquez said Wednesday through a translator. “But I don’t think these four fights will define my career. I have done a lot of great things. More than anything, (the fans) will remember the competitive fights.”
Marquez, a former four-division champion, was so disappointed last November after losing a majority decision against Pacquiao he nearly retired. One judge scored the fight a draw and another scored in Marquez’s favor at 115-113. But the third judge saw it 116-112 in favor of Pacquiao to give him the majority decision by one round.
“Honestly, I don’t know what I need to do to change the mind of the judges,” Marquez said after the fight.
Most of what he said that night was out of anger and the heat of the moment. Soon, when he realized another fight, and reported $6 million payday, with Pacquiao was available, his tune quickly changed. The challenge of overcoming the biggest blemish in his near two-decade career, and logging another epic fight with Pacquiao, was most appealing.
“After the fight, I was very upset,” Marquez said this week. “With everything that’s happened, I thought: What’s the point? But after a while, I sat down with my team and my family, and we decided (we’d be interested) if there was an opportunity for a fourth fight. We didn’t know how realistic it was, but obviously it is here now, so it was very realistic.”
At age 39, that means Marquez had to return to the gym to prepare for what could be a career-defining night. In the previous meeting, Marquez silenced critics who argued he was past his prime by more than hanging with the pound-for-pound king, Pacquiao.
Marquez did most of his damage with the counterpunch and with his speed last November in landing several of the fight’s most significant blows.
Pacquiao had steamrolled everyone he fought for about three years leading up to the rematch, but he never enjoys that kind of success against Marquez — one of the reasons why the series is so legendary.
Marquez wants to do his part to keep that claim accurate.
“I love the gym. I spend a lot of time in the gym,” he said. “I love the work. I love the training. A lot of the time, fights are won with preparation more than in the ring.”
This time, Marquez wants to win the fight on the scorecards. After all, winning in the court of public opinion isn’t why he signed on for a fourth meeting.
“I want (the referee) to raise my hand in the ring,” Marquez said. “I don’t want people telling me, 'You really beat him,' like the last three fights. That is why I want this fourth fight. I want them to raise my hand in the ring and for the judges to really look at what they are doing and get it right this time.”