Juan for the money

  • By: Derek Bilton
  • Last Updated: December 6 2012, 20:39 GMT

Our tipster Derek Bilton reckons Juan Manuel Marquez can finally get his hand raised against Manny Pacquiao this weekend.

Marquez lands one on Pacquiao in their last meeting

Pacquiao v Marquez

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have shared a prize ring on three occasions over the past eight years, boxing no fewer than 36 rounds, and yet we are still no closer to settling the argument as to who the best man is.

We might find out more on Saturday night when 'Pac Man' and Marquez go to war for a fourth time in Las Vegas.

The odds men have Pacquiao, who along with Floyd Mayweather is regarded as one of the best two 'pound-for-pound' fighters in the world, as a 2/5 favourite this time round.

Yet for me Marquez will always be his bogeyman and that is why I find such odds hard to fathom.

In 2004 Marquez was decked three times in a mesmerising opening round before somehow regrouping and out-slugging Pacquiao to punch out a draw on the cards in a hum-dinger.

Four years later Pacquiao won a high-quality rematch by just a point. The outcome was again debatable and Marquez fans have a genuine case for him winning both of those fights.

And in 2011 Marquez put on arguably his best display of counter-punching against Manny, only to be again edged out via a decision that was booed long and loud by those watching.

So they go to it again this weekend at the MGM Grand, with both men confident of victory.

Trainer Freddie Roach is confident his man will KO Marquez, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

In their first fight way back in 2004 Pacquiao had Marquez down three times and there was a case for fight being stopped during what was a truly crazy opening three minutes.

It wasn't, and the bottom line is Marquez dominated the rest of the bout for long periods to eventually earn a draw.

A knockdown scored by Pacquiao in their second fight basically swung that one his way, but in their last encounter the Filipino phenom didn't look like hurting his great Mexican rival at any point.

Marquez has done a lot of strength and conditioning work with Angel Memo Heredia and looks in scintillating shape ahead of this one. The match has been made at welterweight and despite being 39 Marquez is a well-preserved fighter whose defensive smarts have prolonged his stay in the sport.

Pacquiao is a fine athlete himself but he has not put a really great shift in since stopping Miguel Cotto in 2009 and there is a school of thought suggesting he may have lost his mojo.

He was unlucky to lose against Tim Bradley last time out but was definitely fortunate to get the nod in his third fight with Marquez. Before that he laboured to a points win against a shop-worn Shane Mosley and at 33 he is no spring chicken himself.

Reports have suggested Pacquiao likes a late night when not in training and he also has the additional distraction of a career in politics in his homeland.

Even the greats get old and the reason I am leaning towards Marquez on Saturday is a simple one. Motivation.

It is clear that there is but a cigarette paper between these two in terms of ability, but Marquez will have been haunted by those contentious losses and will surely realise this is his final shot at redemption.

When Pacquiao burst onto the scene in 2003 to stop Marco Antonio Barrera he wasn't just a hungry fighter, he was ravenous.

However he has been eating at boxing's top table for almost a decade now and with all the distractions of fame he could be finally ripe for the taking.

Don't get me wrong, Marquez is not short of a few bob either but he 'lives the life' and this proud Mexican will know his fistic legacy probably hinges on the outcome of this one.

And if he can keep his composure and box to orders it is my belief that he can land odds of 4/1 by finally beating the 'Pac Man' on points.


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