Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Manny Pacquiao spent part of Wednesday morning running at the UNLV track in preparation for his welterweight title fight Saturday at the MGM Grand against Juan Manuel Marquez.
At the end of the workout, Pacquiao challenged the UNLV track coach to a race in the 100 meters. The eight-division world champion lost ... barely.
Some would question why Pacquiao would be up to the strenuous challenge of sprints days before his fight. That didn’t bother his longtime trainer, Freddie Roach.
“He lost, but it was close,” Roach said of the race. “(Some wonder): 'Why do you let him do sprints?' He is having fun, and when Pacquiao is having fun, that shows me he is ready.”
This is the fourth meeting in the heated series between Pacquiao and Marquez with each of the previous bouts being decided by a close decision. Their initial meeting was scored a draw in 2004; Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) 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.
But if Pacquiao’s results in training are any indication, the controversy of going to judges’ scorecards could be avoided this time around. Roach said Pacquiao has recorded four knockouts during camp sparring — the first time he’s had a knockout in training since 2009, before his fight with Miguel Cotto.
“He’s on fire right now,” Roach said. “He will hit me, just tap me, and he almost knocked me out yesterday. He is ready to go.”
Pacquiao’s most recent fight also ended in a questionable decision. His seven-year winning streak was snapped last June when judges awarded a split decision to Timothy Bradley in the WBO welterweight title fight despite Pacquiao dominating for most of the night.
This time around, even with the uproar caused from the fluke loss against Bradley, and the close calls previously against Marquez, Pacquiao won’t concern himself with the scoring.
“I never complained about the judges,” Pacquiao said. “The official, that is his job. We are boxers, and our job is to fight in the ring. Whatever the decision, we have to respect that. Even the last fight with Bradley, you never heard from my mouth complaining, and that was a very one-sided fight.”
Part of Pacquiao’s legacy is defined by his series with Marquez, which helps explain why they are fighting for a fourth time. This is an opportunity for Pacquiao to show his superiority to Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs), silencing claims he should have lost the previous fights.
Marquez was so disappointed in the outcome last November, he told reporters after the fight he was retiring. Now, he’s anxious to get redemption — something Pacquiao hopes leads to some good exchanges in the ring.
“I want to give him a chance to see if he can prove something,” Pacquiao said. “If you are claiming you won the fight, the rematch is an opportunity to be aggressive and create action first.”
Pacquiao, especially with what happened in the decision against Bradley, hopes to put on a show with Marquez. That, of course, would require Marquez meeting him halfway, he said.
“We can change by going toe-to-toe and exchange punches,” Pacquiao said. “He needs to do this because he claims to have won the fight. He just backs off and backs off and waits for the punches of (his) opponent.”