Pacquaio vs. Marquez: The Featherweight Toss Up

07.05.04 - By Matthew Hurley: In the wake of Manny Pacquaio’s demolition of Marco Antonio Barrera many in the boxing media, and many wizened boxing fans, anointed the “Pacman” as the best featherweight on the planet. Potential mega matchups with the likes of Erik Morales or Diego Corrales loomed on the horizon and Pacquaio had apparently become boxing’s new king of the little big men. Somehow a terrific young fighter, a champion, got lost in the mix. Juan Manuel Marquez, one of those many hidden jewels among the lower weight fighters never seemed to garner a mention in the uproar of the explosiveness that inhabits Manny Pacquaio’s style. Marquez, the IBF and WBA featherweight champion, once again became personae non grata. A bit part he has been playing for too long. On Saturday night things may very well change.

Make no mistake, this fight for the featherweight crown has become the Manny Pacquaio show. He’s exciting, throws bunches of punches and is as fast and hyperactive as the Energizer Bunny. But the more tactical and more reserved Marquez is the bigger man and has been waiting for his opportunity to bask in the glow of the limelight for years. Technically he’s solid. His promoter Bob Arum is both intrigued and perhaps a bit nervous about sending Marquez into the ring with the Filipino spitfire. “This may be the best match up out there,” said the man who lies today but will tell the truth tomorrow. “You look at Pacquaio, off his destruction of Barrera, which was incredible, and the question is was Barrera that bad or was Pacquaio that good, or was it a combination of both. I’ve always felt the best technical fighter in the division is Marquez.”

This corner feels that the real questions lie in Pacquaio’s corner. We know that Marquez is a solid professional. Is he ready to step up into the elite class? That’s what this fight is all about for him. With Manny there remains a lingering skepticism on just how good he is. Arum, a salesman to the end, actually has it right this time. Was Pacquaio that good against Barrera or did Marco simply grow old over night. Also, jumping right into the ring with a solid professional, and a champion to boot, may not have been the best course of action of Pacquaio. Is he spreading himself too thin? Even his trainer Freddie Roach hesitates when asked that question. “Stylewise, he’s definitely the most trouble because of his counterpunching style,” he said, in reference to Marquez.

Right there is the crux of Pacquaio’s dilemma in facing Marquez. The “Pacman” simply charges forward winging punches, hoping to drown his opponent in a sea of lefts and rights that simply won’t stop. But Marquez, the counterpuncher is counting on just that. He’s not going to have to go looking for Pacquaio as he did against Derrick Gainer. Manny will be right in his face, which is exactly what he wants. Pacquaio’s style seems to play right into Marquez’s hands.

Still, no one expected Barrera to fold against Manny’s swarm of punches and Barrera had no answer to the rain of fists that cascaded down upon him. It’s conceivable that Manny will do exactly the same to Marquez – overwhelm him with a volume of punches and take him out late.

It’s a tough call, a toss up, but it says here that Marquez prevails in a tough one. All the questions should be answered relatively early. If Marquez can hold off Pacquaio in the early rounds look for him to counter and control the frenetic Filipino and take a unanimous decision. If he can’t hold him off it could be a short night, but the feeling here is that Pacquaio caught Barrera on a down and that fight should hold no bearing on this match up.

And accolades to both men for stepping up and accepting this fight in order to prove who truly is the king of the featherweights.

Marquez W12 Pacquaio

Article posted on 07.05.2004

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