Pacquiao-Marquez III: The Definitive Fight Preview

November 12, 2011

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will meet for the third time this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Boxing fans are desperate to find out if this will be just another display of Pacquiao's brilliance or whether Marquez can be competitive enough to make this one of the great trilogies of all time.

Pacquiao is currently a 10-1 favorite to defeat the Mexican warrior who has been his equal in two previous fights. It isn't hard to see why so few think that Marquez can win this fight. Aside from being younger, stronger, naturally heavier, and faster, Pacquiao has shown dramatic improvement in his boxing skills since the last fight with Marquez nearly four years ago. Most notably the southpaw has become, as he states, a "two-fisted fighter" who can knock out an opponent with either hand.

To his credit, Marquez seems quite aware of Pacquiao's improved boxing skills. He openly acknowledges he no longer can simply focus on avoiding Pacquiao's devastating straight left hand, but must deal with a more complete fighter. Nonetheless, Marquez stubbornly insists he will win on Saturday night.

What can we expect on Saturday night? Does Marquez have a chance? It is of course easy to understand why Pacquiao might win, but analyzing what Marquez must do to compete with Pacquiao is a little trickier.

Here is the DSH official preview focusing on the 4 critical aspects that will determine the victor in Pacquiao-Marquez III.


The question here is not if Pacquiao is faster than Marquez, but how much faster.  Pacquiao probably has the fastest hands in boxing and astonishingly this has not declined despite his rise up in weight.

In the 7 fights since his 2008 bout against Marquez, Pacquiao has benefited from an enormous speed advantage over his opponents.  The only reasonably quick opponent he has faced was Miguel Cotto, who experienced some early success until being blown away by Pacquiao.

On the other hand, Marquez appears to have lost some handspeed since he last fought Pacquiao at 130 pounds. Whether it is related to age or weight, Marquez seems slower even when fighting at 135 pounds.  The "slow down" was all the more apparent in his last foray at Welterweight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

In both of their previous two bouts Pacquiao had the faster hands, but Marquez nonetheless used timing and accuracy to counteract that advantage.  Even assuming that Pacquiao has improved his overall boxing skills substantially, Marquez will be relying on his impressive counterpunching to defuse Pacquiao's offense.  To do so however, Marquez's hands cannot be dramatically slower than Pacquiao's. 

In their previous two bouts, Marquez was successful at firing back his straight right hand immediately after Pacquiao threw his left hand.  In those fights Marquez noticed that Pacquiao had a tendency to throw a long straight left hand, which Pacquiao brought back a little slowly after throwing it.  In that moment Marquez repeatedly would catch Pacquiao before Pacquiao repositioned his left hand to defend himself. 

Those right hand leads were exquisite in both their timing and accuracy.  However, if Marquez is to meet with similar success in this fight, he must be extremely quick.  If Marquez is slower this time with a counter right, expect Pacquiao to take a step to his left and nail an out of position Marquez with a short left again.


Again, there is no doubt that Pacquiao has the faster feet.  Nonetheless, despite this advantage in the last two fights, Pacquaio found himself out of position against Marquez's more clever footwork. This was no accident. 

If you watch the first two fights closely, Marquez would regularly step and place his left foot just outside of Pacquiao's right foot every time he came in to punch Pacquiao.  Indeed sometimes, it appeared he would almost step on Pacquiao's right foot.  This gave him several advantages. 

First, it allowed Marquez to throw his straight right hand and then pivot left to get out of the way of Pacquiao's incoming straight left hand.

Second, by placing his left foot next to Pacquiao's right foot, Marquez prevented Pacquiao from pivoting to his own right in order to avoid Marquez's straight right hand.  Indeed, Pacquiao nearly stumbled over Marquez's foot several times trying to do this, making him appear hurt or knocked off balance by a Marquez punch when he really wasn't.

Another successful tactic Marquez used to counteract Pacquiao's aggression in the prior bouts was to constantly move laterally, preventing Pacquiao from being able to get set and throw his power punches.  However, Pacquiao has dramatically improved in his ability to move quickly in both directions, so this tactical advantage should be mitigated somewhat.

Finally, Marquez previously relied on his own quick feet and reflexes to avoid getting hit with Pacquiao's left hand.  When Pacquiao came in with the straight left hand, Marquez would either duck down or lightly step back...before throwing his own right.  However, Marquez has more recently been engaged in wars with Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis where he has been doing more trading than dodging.  Are his feet still quick enough to avoid Pacquiao's power punches?  If they aren't, Marquez will find himself repeatedly hitting the canvas.


Few people doubt that Pacquiao will have a substantial edge in power when the two meet in the ring later tonight.  Pacqiuao has shown that he has the ability to hurt fighters naturally bigger than him, something Marquez has yet to do.  There is no question that Pacqiao possesses the power to hurt Marquez and even finish him.  The same cannot be said for Marquez.

Despite how strong Marquez looks, it will be difficult to imagine that he will possess anything like the one-punch knockout power of Manny Pacquiao.  Nonetheless, Marquez will have to have increased his power sufficiently to have a chance in this fight.  Pacquiao, who took Marquez's punches fairly well in prior bouts at a much lower weight, will be able to take his punches that much better now.


Perhaps the most overlooked reason for Juan Manuel Marquez's success in the prior two bouts is his emphasis on attacking Pacquiao to the body.  Round after round Marquez pounded Pacquiao to the midsection and the investment paid dividends in both fights as Pacquiao, a fighter with seemingly unlimited energy and stamina, faded slightly down the stretch.  All three judges gave Marquez the last two rounds in both fights.

Aside from his prior success however, there is another large reason Marquez should attack Pacquiao's body: Pacquiao appears to have an incredible chin.

Indeed, Pacquiao has rarely, if ever, been truly wobbled by a headshot.  Even when an opponent lands a seeming huge power punch, Pacquioao appears largely unfazed.  Yet in past fights against Eric Morales and Antonio Margarito, Pacquiao did seem hurt by body shots.  Further, his prior knockout losses (over a dozen years ago) were a result of body punches.

According to Freddie Roach, Marquez himself came closest to knocking out Pacquiao in the 8th round of their second fight.  In that round, Marquez landed a brutal left hook to the liver that had Pacquiao retreating for most of the round (although the announcers incorrectly focused on a Marquez right hand that opened a cut on Pacquiao).  According to Roach, Marquez's cautious nature likely cost him his only chance to knock Pacquiao out.

Without a sustained and effective attack on Pacquiao's body, Marquez will be unable to slow down Pacquaio enough to stay competitive.


Marquez seeks to apply the same formula he previously used against Pacquiao and has some success over the first four or five rounds.  However, Pacquiao's strength, speed, and improved skill prove to be too much for the Mexican warrior.  Despite being dropped several times in the middle rounds, Marquez gives flashes of the tremendous resiliency that he has shown through a Hall of Fame career.  However, the end comes by stoppage in Round 8 or 9.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for


  1. 3rd time is the charm. JMM got this dude figured out

  2. Marquez stepped on Pacman's foot repeatedly. Dirty trick by a guy who backed away all night. JMM fought scared

  3. Marquez had Manny confused. He was robbed and should get a rematch. Juan Manuel solved the puzzle and has his number. Even Freddy Roach agreeed


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