Marquez’s ire was such that he nearly retired following November’s majority decision loss to Pacquiao — in his mind the third time he had been cheated of a win.
But if Marquez is so angry, says Pacquiao, then he should abandon his counter-punching style and simply stand and fight, “toe-to-toe.”
“I think that the things that we can change is that if he’ll fight toe-to-toe, and exchanging punches,” said Pacquiao. “I think that he needs to do that because he’s been claiming that he won the fight, and you’re claiming that you won the fight, and you just back off, back off. It’s not good for the people claiming that, ‘Yeah, I won the fight, but in the fight, I’m always backing off, backing off, waiting for the punches of my opponent.”
“It’s contradictory to his claiming that he won the fight. For me, this is about my name, and the honor of my country, and of course the pride of the Philippine people. I want to give him a chance. Maybe he can prove something.”
Marquez rebounded from the loss to Pacquiao with April’s unanimous decision over Sergei Fedchenko for the WBO’s junior welterweight belt.
Pacquiao chose a rematch with Marquez over one with Tim Bradley, whose controversial split-decision victory dethroned Pacquiao as WBO welterweight beltholder and ended his winning streak at 15 bouts.
Marquez claims that he won all three bouts, and has blamed the judges each time.
“I never complain about the judges or the officials, because that’s their job,” said Pacquiao. “And our job is that we are boxers. So our job is to fight in the ring. Whatever the decision, we have to respect their decision.”
“Even with my last fight with Bradley, you never heard from my mouth that I’m complaining, and that was a very one-sided fight. Never heard from my mouth that I’m complaining about that fight that we should win.”
Pacquiao said that he chose to fight Marquez a fourth time in order to achieve closure.
“Like what Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told you, when you say Muhammad Ali, you think Joe Frazier, and when you say Frazier, you think Muhammad Ali. I think when you say Manny Pacquiao, you think Marquez, and when you say Marquez, you think Manny Pacquiao,” said Pacquiao.
“If I’m scared of him, I’m not going to choose him again after four times. If he wants to fight, ‘Yes,’ and if he wants to fight once every Saturday of the month, no problem. I settled with Marquez because he’s very…he has a brave heart.”
Pacquiao said he and trainer Freddie Roach have devised a plan that might draw Marquez into a fire fight.
“This training camp, we try to adjust our style and strategy, and if we don’t create action, I’m ready to be aggressive and create more action,” said Pacquiao.
“If you’re claiming that you won the fight, then, in the rematch, given the opportunity this time, you have to be aggressive and you have to create first, the action.”
A southpaw, Pacquiao was 11-0 when he was stopped by Rustico Torrecampo in the third round in February of 1996. Pacquiao was 26-1 before losing to Medgoen Singurat by another third-round knockout in September of 1999.
Marquez never has been stopped, although he was floored by Pacquiao three times in the first round of their initial meeting as featherweights in May of 2004, and dropped once in the third round of their second as junior lightweights in March of 2008.
Still, Pacquiao and Roach say they want to deliver an entertaining, violent fight, even if he means that Pacquiao runs the risk of being knocked out for the third time in his career.
“Everybody wants a knockout, because all of the close fights will go to that person,” said Roach. “If [Marquez] comes out and he’s aggressive, and he wins by knockout, then I have to respect him and congratulate him if that happens.”
“We both have two months to prepare for the fight. I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I will always respect him, and the way that he trains hard, the way that he focuses his training,” said Pacquiao.
“But for this fight, you need to show something, not, ‘yeah, I will fight,’ and then your style is the same. That’s his style, but he needs to prove something. I want him to fight toe-to-toe with me so that we can finish early. Twelve rounds is long, why aren’t we looking to make boxing short, right? Either me or him.”
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com