Friday, 2 September 2011

Pacquiao-Marquez hype on

Posted by chardyboy on Friday, September 02, 2011 0 comments

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It’s always a pleasure to welcome Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to Manila no matter what kind of weather we need to brave to get to the Centennial Airport or at what ungodly hour we need to be there.
That’s because it’s always fun to see an old friend, whom we first met at the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975, step before a bank of cameras and jostling TV and radio reporters with his sprightly gait.
Now close to 80 years old, he always has some truly informative and interesting things to say and often in rather compelling language. He’s great for TV sound bites.
This time around, Arum arrived with Mexican promoter Fernando Beltran and the extremely likeable Ricardo Jimenez. But for us, the come-on on Thursday was  Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez, a true ring warrior in the finest tradition of Mexican gladiators and an extremely personable individual. Never mind the fact that Marquez keeps insisting that he beat pound-for-pound king and national sports hero Manny Pacquiao both times they met and that the judges denied him his moment of glory.
Pacquiao diehards—and there are  millions of them both at home and abroad—may get all riled up over Marquez’s claims but we have to be realistic. Both fights were close and when fights are that close, they naturally give rise to the issue of being controversial.
Truth to tell, both fights, the first in 2004 and the rematch in 2008, were breathtakingly close. We ourselves feared for a moment that Manny could have lost the rematch although in the end he won a split decision and, on television, he seemed a little surprised if not relieved.
From our point of view it was the knockdowns—three in the opening round of their first clash for the WBA featherweight title and one in the fourth round of the rematch in which Pacquiao won the WBA super featherweight title—that made the difference. However, it doesn’t take away Marquez’s right to believe that he had won.
In fact his continuing insistence has added fire to the upcoming showdown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Nov. 12 and turned what many believe could be a one-sided mauling into an intriguing fight with numerous possibilities.
In many ways it’s a promoter’s dream and for Arum, the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy offers an opportunity to reach new heights at least in terms of pay-per-view numbers.
Pacquiao himself, either out of a genuine desire to prove he is the better man and to, as someone suggested, shut Marquez’s mouth once and for all, began training unusually early. When he stepped into the Planet Jupiter gym on Monday, it was some 10 weeks before the fight. The champion, who trains relentlessly once he decides to get going, had previously prepared for a fight for a maximum of six to seven weeks.  Marquez himself has been training for almost a month now.
Maybe, just maybe, Pacquiao, who is himself an astute businessman no matter what people may think, wishes to give the impression that Marquez is a tougher opponent the third time around and wants to  make sure that the November showdown is far removed from even a tinge of controversy. In the process, he helps build interest, if not excitement, which hopefully will up the pay-for-view numbers and help keep the cash register ringing endlessly.
Objectively, Marquez was great at 126 and 130 pounds when he battled Pacquiao. But at the catch weight of 144 (which was Marquez’s request, not Pacquiao’s, for the uninformed Manny critics) the “Fighter of the Decade” who has pulverized bigger, but not necessarily better men, should prove too powerful.
Clearly, Marquez appeared to have slowed down a fraction in his last couple of fights except for that joke of a bout with Likar Ramos. He tended to stand in front and get hit a lot more than before.
Against Pacquiao, it would be disastrous. Besides, as Manny told us the other day, he has faced Marquez twice and is aware of his strengths—the right straight and the uppercut—and knows how to handle them.


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