Can the trio of Pacquiao, Marquez and Mayweather push Boxing’s popularity?

Manny Pacquiao By Bong Paredes, photo by Naoki Fukuda - Since Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced his return to the sport of boxing on the eve of the Pacquiao and Hatton super fight, all of a sudden everybody that follows the sport that pundits refer to as “The Sweet Science” have some soap opera type scenarios that we hope will unfold within a year. If there was one thing that needed to happen to boost the public’s interest in the sport, this is it. Given that all the protagonists are minorities, no one can deny that all three of them will bring a lot of intrigued fans to the fore. The possibilities are endless it excites the hell out of me.

First, let’s talk about Marquez. Yes, most people consider Manny Pacquiao the best pound for pound boxer, and after seeing him bulldoze through Ricky Hatton a few weeks back it’s hard to argue why he shouldn’t be.. But if there’s someone who can make a solid argument about the mythical pound for pound status, it’s Marquez. After years of watching fellow countrymen Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales fight their way to stardom and being recognized as pound for pound top 10 fighters, Marquez just kept on racking wins and even though he was a champion for a long time. He was nowhere near as popular as his compatriots. The only time people got to recognize how good he really is was when he battled Pacquiao to a draw after getting knocked down three times the first time they fought last 2004. Being the champion and feeling that he did enough to win; he refused to take in less money than Pacquiao and opted to fight Chris John in Indonesia instead. Last year, he signed with Golden Boy Promotions and eventually got his rematch after painfully waiting for 4 years and it was just as exciting as the first one. Unfortunately, the knockdown he suffered towards the end of the third round was the difference in the eyes of the judges to give Pacquiao the decision. A decision that I think could’ve gone either way but has left a sour taste in the mouth of Marquez and his legion of fans as they felt just like in the first fight, that Marquez deserved the win. Now this is something that I’m not sure I can answer. What I’m sure of is that as dominating as Pacquiao has been in recent fights, he has the style that presents a lot of trouble for Manny and that boxing fans will surely not mind seeing them in the ring again to once and for all settle the score between them. What made things compelling was, every time Pacquiao wins big. He always seems to upend Manny. After Manny dissected David Diaz, Marquez knocked out The Ring Lightweight Champ Joel Casamayor. When Manny scored an upset over Dela Hoya, Marquez knocked out a young bull in his prime in Juan Diaz. On July 18, he’ll try to do something nobody (not even Pacquiao) has done before which is to beat the undefeated former pound for pound champ Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. If he wins, then all roads should lead to Marquez vs. Pacquiao III at the end of this year.

Second, there’s the come backing Floyd Mayweather Jr. A boxer that is undefeated not only because of his physical gifts but a master tactician that has an impenetrable defense that no one has deciphered yet. Though he is the best boxer of this era, he doesn’t get as much credit as say someone like Pacquiao mainly due to his bravado and gregarious nature. He knows he’s the best and doesn’t mind telling the world that he is and the fact that he doesn’t have the most exciting style makes him a target to some people. What no one can argue about is the fact that he has defeated everyone that was placed in front of him and that is saying a lot because of the level of competition he has faced (Corrales, Castillo, Hatton, Dela Hoya etc.) was pretty high. Though some fans believe he ducked some guys, I believe he still would’ve given them all fits if they did fight (Margarito, Mosley, Cotto). A couple of months from now he’ll face another stern test when he fights the feisty (albeit a smallish boxer) Juan Manuel Marquez. Should he win, he’ll be in a perfect position to reclaim the title he never lost in the ring which is being considered the P4P (pound for pound) best.

Lastly, there’s the current P4P champion and current Ring Magazine Light Welterweight Champ Manny Pacquiao. Calling him an Icon in The Philippines is an understatement. As one of the local politicians here said on one of the episodes of Pacquiao – Dela Hoya 24/7,”He’s our number 1 national resource”. I’m sure its an exaggeration but sometimes it certainly feels like it as the entire nation will literally stop what their doing whenever he fights. In one of the columns that I read over the internet (I apologize I can’t remember the source), the author said he has what they call the Clark Kent syndrome. As Pacquiao seems to look vulnerable in a suit, yet when he’s in the ring the last thing you’ll want is to come anywhere near him. With his unbelievable and explosive exploits in the ring, matched by his affable nature off it makes him an instant hit with the media which is probably why a lot of people have no qualms putting him atop the mythical P4P rankings. His humility is the complete antithesis to Floyd Jr. and Marquez’ in your face approach which I think makes this triumvirate the best thing boxing has seen in years. 3 fighters with different personalities, 3 fighters with different nationalities, 3 fighters in their primes (or near it) willing to take on each other as each one believes they are the best of this generation. We don’t know who will come out on top, but if they end up facing each other we “the fans” are the undisputed winners.

Article posted on 19.05.2009

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