The time has come for Manny Pacquiao to act on his desire to convincingly defeat Juan Manuel Marquez, his great rival from Mexico.
With the World Boxing Organization welterweight title on the line, Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 knockouts) will cap his trilogy tonight against Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Seats have been sold out for months for the pay-per-view bout.
PHOTOS: Pacquiao vs. Marquez weigh-in
Pacquiao, 32, and Marquez, 38, fought to a compelling draw in 2004, when the Filipino southpaw knocked down Marquez three times in the first round, but the gritty Mexico City counterpuncher rallied impressively, winning nearly every round afterward.
In 2008, Pacquiao knocked Marquez down once more and edged him by one point on the decisive judge’s scorecard to win a split decision.
Pacquiao has since proceeded to fantastic riches, beating Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito to routinely collect in excess of $20 million purses while claiming world titles in eight weight divisions.
Marquez, meanwhile, has stayed in pursuit of this third fight against Pacquiao by winning the world lightweight title, and he’s associated with controversial strength coach Angel “Memo” Heredia in preparation for this bout.
Marquez trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain is counting on what he perceives to be his fighter’s “technical” advantage to carry the night, but all involved acknowledge the massive strides Pacquiao has made since the 2008 bout in footwork, use of his right hand and maximizing his power.
It’s why Pacquiao is a 10-to-1 favorite to win the fight, according to Las Vegas sports books, and why his camp is projecting a knockout by the end of the seventh round.
The Times’ round-by-round coverage of the bout here at the Fabulous Forum will begin when the fight does, likely after 8:30 p.m. Pacific time.
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Photo: Manny Pacquiao, left, and Juan Manuel Marquez face off during their weigh-in on Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters