In November, Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 knockouts) escaped with a highly disputed majority decision over Marquez (54-6-2, 39 KOs), with whom he has also battled to a draw and won a previous split decision.
Pacquiao floored Marquez three times in the first round of their initial meeting as featherweights in May of 2004, and dropped him once in the third round of their second as junior lightweights in March of 2008.
Pacquiao, who turns 34 on Dec. 17, chose to face Marquez over a return bout with Tim Bradley, whose controversial split decision in June dethroned Pacquiao as the WBO’s 147-pound titleholder and ended his 15-bout winning streak that included eight stoppages.
Marquez, who turned 39 in August, rebounded with April’s unanimous decision over Sergei Fedchenko for the WBO’s junior welterweight belt.
In a training blog distributed by HBO, Pacquiao recalled his first bout with Marquez:
MONDAY, NOV. 12: “The first fight with Juan Manuel Márquez was very exciting. Everyone was saying that it was a matchup between the two best featherweights, and that was contagious to me. I trained very hard with Freddie Roach, and I was really looking forward to it.
“After I knocked Márquez down for third time in the first round, and I headed back to the corner, I was thinking ‘It’s over. If I throw a few more left hands, I’ve got him, and I can end this in the second round.’ Freddie was telling me the same thing.
“So I threw more lefts at Márquez, but the problem was I didn’t land them this time. I might have been a little impatient trying to end the fight, and looking back now, those misses gave him time to recuperate a bit and adjust his game plan against me.
“I was really surprised at how hard Márquez fought and got himself back into the fight. That really impressed me. But better than that, we gave the fans a great fight to watch.
“Toward the latter rounds, because I was wearing socks that were very thin, I had developed blisters on my feet, making it very difficult for me to move as effectively as I had during the earlier rounds. I had to fight more flat-footed than we had trained.
“After the fight, when I took my boots off, my socks were worn through and they were very bloody. Going into the last two rounds of the fight, Freddie told me I had to really pick it up and take the last two rounds to ‘seal the deal,’ which I did.
“No question I won those last two rounds, and I hurt him in the 12th round when he came out in a southpaw stance and I was able to land some very hard shots. I remember him looking unsteady after I hit him.
“It was called a draw, but if the one judge had correctly scored the first round 10–6 for the three knockdowns instead of 10-7, I would have won the decision. But then again, maybe we wouldn’t have had the great fights together that followed if he had?”
Photos courtesy of HBO
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com