Pac­quiao, Mar­quez need win

Fourth meet­ing of th­ese fight­ers finds both at cross­roads.

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - Bytim Dahlberg Julie JA­COB­SON / ap

LAS VE­GAS — The fact they’re much big­ger than when they first met eight years ago is un­de­ni­able. Both Manny Pac­quiao and Juan Manuel Mar­quez have added bulk along with the pounds, and both have had to deal with those who sus­pect they didn’t do it nat­u­rally.

Along with the fight­ers, the purses and at­ten­tion have grown as Pac­quiao and Mar­quez meet Satur­day night for the fourth — and pre­sum­ably last — time in the ri­valry that has served both fight­ers so well.

Mar­quez will try once again to do what he hasn’t been able to do in 36 evenly con­tested rounds against Pac­quiao — get a de­ci­sion from the ring­side score­cards. At the age of 39, it’s a fight that may mean more to his legacy than his fu­ture ca­reer, which is why it’s a fight he seems al­most des­per­ate to win.

“All I ask is for the judges to be ob­jec­tive,” Mar­quez said. “They need to really see what is hap­pen­ing in the ring in­stead of what they think might be hap­pen­ing in the ring.”

Pac­quiao is not as des­per­ate, but he needs a win just as badly. He barely es­caped with a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion over Mar­quez last Novem­ber — a re­sult that drew loud boos from the pro-Mar­quez crowd — and lost a widely panned de­ci­sion to Ti­mothy Bradley his last time out.

A loss to Mar­quez would not only con­firm the whis­pers that he is slip­ping af­ter 17 years as a pro, but per­haps de­rail for good any talk of a fight against Floyd May­weather Jr. that would be box­ing’s rich­est ever.

“I have al­ways been fo­cused, but not like this fight,” Pac­quiao said. “There are no dis­trac­tions in my mind. The fam­ily prob­lems I had I don’t have this time.”

Nei­ther fighter holds a ti­tle as they meet in a wel­ter­weight fight that will make both even richer. Pac­quiao is ex­pected to make more than $20 mil­lion by the time the payper-view re­ceipts are to­taled, while pro­moter Bob Arum said Mar­quez could make as much as $6 mil­lion.

It’s a far cry from 2004, when Pac­quiao and Mar­quez could barely fill half the arena, and the money they made would barely pay for one of their lux­ury cars to­day.

All three fights — Pac­quiao won the last two — were so close they could have gone ei­ther way. And had they gone the other way, box­ing his­tory may have changed.

Pac­quiao might not have got­ten the fight with Os­car De La Hoya that cat­a­pulted him to star­dom in 2008 just nine months af­ter beat­ing Mar­quez in a split de­ci­sion in their sec­ond fight.

Manny Pac­quiao (left) and Juan Manuel Mar­quez go face to face on Wed­nes­day dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Las Ve­gas. The wel­ter­weights fight on Satur­day.

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