Pacquiao-Marquez: Juan Appears To Be The Younger Fighter

By Donald Rayfield: As I've watched both Manny Pacquiao (45-3-2, 35 KOs) and Juan Manuel Marquez (48-3-1, 35 KOs) prepare for this Saturday's WBC super featherweight rematch at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada, I can't help but notice how badly Pacquiao has aged in the past four years since their first fight on May 8th, 2004..

At that time, Pacquiao, then 25, looked youthful and almost boyish in appearance. Now, however, at 29, Pacquiao seems to have aged considerably, especially in the past two years. Though he's five years younger than the 34 year-old Marquez, Pacquiao looks to be in his mid 30s age-wise.

I don't what could be the cause of his dramatic aging, perhaps his lifestyle and all the immense pressures that have been exerted upon him in his home country of the Philippines. Certainly, he's in demand 24 hours a day by his adoring public, and it leaves me wondering whether it has had an aging effect on him. Of course, his dramatic aging could be something hereditary, for one only has to look at Pacquiao's 27 year-old brother Bobby, who looks to be considerably older than his chronological age, looking also to be in his mid 30s.

Some people may see this as nothing, suggesting that many fighters look old before their time, that it doesn't have an effect on their performances in the ring. However, more often than not, it really does have an effect. People age at different rates, and sometimes they change dramatically within a year or two, turning old over night. In Manny Pacquiao's case, I think I'm seeing hints of that process taking place in the past year. It hasn't been without it's negative side effects either, for he looked average in his last bout against Marco Antonio Barrera in October 2007, struggling to win by a 12-round decision.

Barrera, then 33, was considered to be old and past his prime, yet Pacquiao barely looked better than him. It was a huge difference between their first fight in November 2003, when a youthful-looking Pacquiao took Barrera out in the 11th round on a one-sided fight. Even since his last bout against Barrera in October, Pacquiao looks older physically, with bags under his eyes, wrinkles and an overall look of one that has physically aged all over. In contrast to his opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez, he looks almost unchanged physically in the past four years. Other than more scars from battles against Barrera and Rocky Juarez, Marquez looks to be younger than Pacquiao despite being the older fighter.

This isn't a good thing if you're a Pacquiao fan, because Marquez controlled most of the fight in their initial matchup four years ago. And, if Pacquiao isn't the same fighter due to his recent aging, it would indicate that he's in for a tough time against Marquez. By looking at tapes of both of their last fights, Marquez appears to be fighting at the same level he did in 2004, whereas Pacquiao has slowed down with his punch speed and workrate. That could be by design, some would say, but I highly doubt it.

Pacquiao would never deliberately slow down his punches or his the pace that he fights at, for he seems to have too much pride to do that. He fights much the same as he did early in his career, only a little slower now that he's beginning to get a little long in the tooth. The question is, will Marquez be able to take advantage of Pacquiao's physical decline and possibly squeeze out a decision or outright stop him. No doubt, it will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday night, but based on what I'm seeing of Pacquaio in terms of his physical decline, I'm picking Marquez as the clear winner of the fight.

Article posted on 14.03.2008

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