In two meetings with Juan Manuel Marquez, the last, as junior lightweights, Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines battled the Mexican legend to a draw and won a disputed split-decision, respectively, in May of 2004 and March of 2008.
Pacquiao floored Marquez three times during the first round of their initial meeting, and dropped him once more in their second.
Yet Marquez continued to rise, just as Pacquiao, since then, has continued to increase weight.
Both fighters continued to win.
Pacquiao has earned three more crowns, improving to a record eight the number of belts he has won over as many divisions.
Marquez, meanwhile, has won a junior lightweight belt, raising to three the number of titles he has captured over as many different weight classes.
All the while, however, Marquez has sought revenge, even implying that Pacquiao feared engaging in a third bout against him for fear of losing.
Finally, however, the two warriors will meet again, as the 32-year-old Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 knockouts) has agreed to defend his WBO welterweight belt against the 38-year-old Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) in an HBO Pay Per View televised clash on Nov. 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“This fight will answer all doubts. There have been a lot of changes in me since those first two fights,” said Pacquiao. “I learned a lot of different techniques. I improved my power and I now have a right hand.”
Pacquiao made his statement on Tuesday at the Lighthouse in New York’s Chelsea Piers, where he and Marquez took part in the second stage of a four-city press tour promoting their bout.
The tour began on Sept. 3 in Pacquiao’s Manila, Philippines, continues on Wednesday at the Crystal Ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and will end on Sept. 8 in Marquez’s home of Mexico City. The tour will cover three countries and an estimated 25,000 miles.
Since last facing Marquez, Pacquiao has grown in power, weight and status, being considered the world’s premiere fighter, pound-for-pound.
Pacquiao stopped Diaz in the ninth round for the WBC’s lightweight belt in June of 2008, halted De La Hoya in a nontitle welterweight bout in December of 2008, knocked out Hatton in the second round of a junior welterweight clash in May of 2009, and dethroned Cotto as WBO welterweight titleholder in the 12th round in November of 2009.
Pacquiao debuted in the respective weight classes where he faced Diaz, De La Hoya and Hatton, who, like Cotto, were all knocked out for only the second times in their careers.
In between defenses of his WBO welterweight belt with decisions over ex-world titleholders Joshua Clottey and Shane Mosley, respectively, in March of last year and in May, Pacquiao rose to junior middleweight for an unprecedented eighth crown over as many different weight classes by decisioning ex-title holder Antonio Margarito for the since-vacated WBC title in November.
Although Pacquiao-Margarito was contested at a catchweight of 150 pounds, Pacquiao faced a 17-pound weight disadvantage (165 pounds to 148 in favor of Margarito) by the time the two fighters entered the ring.
“I have not noticed any major changes in Marquez,” said Pacquiao, who will be looking for his 15th consecutive win and his ninth stoppage during that time.
“I like that I am fighting him because he is my size, which is change for me after my last two fights.”
Marquez is 5-1, with four knockouts since last facing Pacquiao, the only loss being by a unanimous decision after he jumped up two weight classes to face unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. (41-0, 25 KOs) during his welterweight debut in Sept. 2009.
In succession, Marquez knocked out ex-titleholder Joel Casamayor in Sept. 2008, dethroned Juan Diaz by ninth-round knockout for the WBO’s lightweight belt, and defended it by decisioning Diaz in a rematch.
Marquez also stopped Michael Katsidis in the ninth round in November of last year, adding the WBA’s belt to the one he already owns.
Even though it appears that he will be the smaller man in the ring this time, Marquez, nevertheless, feels as if he has Pacquiao’s number.
“Manny knows I beat him twice,” said Marquez, who will meet Pacquiao at a catchweight of 144 pounds. “I know that he thinks about our two fights all the time.”
In his junior welterweight debut, Marquez appeared to demonstrate more power when he scored a first-round knockout over Likar Ramos in July.
But Pacquiao said that won’t make a difference.
“I want to prove him wrong – that I won the first two fights,” said Pacquiao, “and the timing seems right to do this one more time in November.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com