The third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12 will be a disaster.
Pacquiao-Marquez could be a defendable matchup even today – at about 135 pounds, Marquez's natural weight. At 144, the catch weight to which the fighters’ agreed, this will be another in a depressing series of mismatches for Pacquiao.
We got a good look at what Marquez looks like as a welterweight, when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. at 142 pounds in 2009. He couldn’t even begin to cope with Mayweather’s speed and ability.
What will be different against Pacquiao? Nothing. The No. 1 fighter in the world has retained his quickness and power as he has moved up in weight; he clearly has outgrown a rival he fought at 126 and 130 pounds a number of years ago.
The result will resemble Mayweather-Marquez – only worse. Mayweather isn’t offensive minded; Pacquiao is. Marquez is in for the worst beating of his career, perhaps a career-ending beating that will end with a ominous question: Why did we let that happen?
Marquez's best chance to compete would be to disregard the catch weight and fight where he’s at his best, around 135 pounds. He’d probably be outweighed by seven or eight pounds but at least he’d be able to move.
Still, the odds are against him. The future Hall of Famer will be 38 when the fight takes place; clearly, he’s not quite what he was. He struggled at times in his last fight against Michael Katsidis, who is light years behind Pacquiao in ability.
And Pacquiao isn’t the same fighter who struggled with Marquez. The pound-for-pound king has become a much-more complete fighter under Freddie Roach, one who would be better than Marquez even on a level playing field.
Thus, this is a recipe for a fourth consecutive ugly fight involving Pacquiao, whose victories over Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley were ridiculously one sided and minimally entertaining.
Another such fight will further damage a sport that is still reeling from the colossal Pacquiao-Mosley disappointment on May 7, in which the 39-year-old Mosley more or less refused to fight for fear of getting knocked out.
And while Pacquiao’s legacy is secure because of past triumphs, another dud will do some harm to his reputation. I think people are beginning to catch on to the fact that Team Pacquiao isn’t truly concerned about entertaining fans. It's all about money.
Who else could Pacquiao have selected? Any of a number of fighters with the size and speed to at least provide some resistance. Welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz. Timothy Bradley. Kermit Cintron. Even Zab Judah.
Not Marquez. Not at 144 pounds. Not now.