LAS VEGAS — As he watched Juan Manuel Marquez weigh in at a ripped and ready career-high 143 pounds before a raucaus crowd of 4,000 or so fans on Friday at the MGM Grand, Angel Hernandez marveled at his work.
Having called Marquez a “Hulk” at Wednesday afternoon’s press conference, the controversial strength and conditioning guru declared his subject in “perfect” condition, even as he was four pounds lighter than Manny Pacquiao, Saturday night’s rival at the MGM.
Marquez has vowed to be “faster, more explosive and more aggressive” in his fourth bout with Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 knockouts), an eight-division champ whose disputed majority decision victory over Marquez in November had followed a draw and a split-decision win.
Although Marquez (54-6-2, 39 KOs) hit the canvas three times in the first round of their initial meeting as featherweights in May of 2004, and once in the third round of their second as junior lightweights in March of 2008, he never was floored in November — a testament to his improved resilience, according to Hernandez.
Hernandez shared his thoughts on Marquez’s transformation for this, their second fight together in this Q&A.
RingTV.com: Was your goal achieved?
Angel Hernandez: Yes. We spoke briefly all this week. I told him that I wanted to get him at 142, 143 pounds just like last year.
Considering that he’s stronger than last year, compared to body weight, so we feel comfortable.
RingTV.com: Is there anything to speculation that Marquez still was cutting weight during the course of this week?
AH: We have been, during the course of our whole training period, at about 143. The only time that we got heavy was at about 144, 144.5, and that was like two weeks ago.
So we didn’t sacrifice any body weight, and we didn’t sacrifice anything. All that we had to do was train and adapt his muscles so that he could be more dynamic and explosive, and be able to perform more quickly.
And the only way to be able to do that is that you have to be able to understand that one pound of fat is the same as one pound of muscle.
The only thing that changes is the volume. So a lot of people might look very big. I don’t know if you were able to compare Pacquiao with Marquez on the stage, but Marquez looks very good.
Marquez looks bigger than Pacquiao, but if you can see, his stomach muscles are very small, but he’s very, very defined. He’s very defined, but we work it that way.
Side-by-side comparison of the Pacquiao-Marquez III weigh-in (left) and IV, which took place Friday.
RingTV.com: Your thoughts on how Pacquiao looked?
AH: I never thought that Manny Pacquiao would come in at 147. First time I’ve seen that happen, but I think that they’re looking for a knockout. A power knockout.
But I think that my guy is going to be ready to go in whatever direction the fight takes place, he’ll be able to take it there, right away.
Pacquiao looks good, and I think [Pacquiao’s strength coach] Alex Ariza did a tremendous job, so, it’s always good when you have a good conditioning coach on the other side, because you know he’s going to be trouble.
RingTV.com: Is Marquez’s speed and timing going to be the same, or better, being a counter-puncher?
AH: No, he’s going to be much faster than the last time. You have to understand Juan Manuel Marquez. Right now, I’ve got him to the point where he can move around and go in whatever direction he wants.
When it comes to boxing, Marquez is a very intelligent guy who uses his brain very well, and he knows Manny Pacquiao too much.
So, in other words, he’s going to be able to do whatever reaction his body needs to have take place. He’s going to be able to counter-punch, and he’s going to be able to go forward.
I think that with the strategy right there, with [trainer] Mr. Nacho [Beristain,] and the strategy that he has in place, I think that it’s going to be a great fight.
The people who bought pay per view, I think that this will be even more impressive than fight No. 1, fight No. 2 or fight No. 3.
This is going to be even more important, because this is going to settle everything from all of the fights. I’m excited, as you can see, because Juan is going to be able to go with the pace of the fight as it change from one minute to another.
RingTV.com: So how is he compared to the last Marquez to face Pacquiao?
AH: He’s going to be much better. Why? Because the training is more specific this time, because we had a longer preparation period.
You have to understand that I’ve been with him for over a year now, so he was able to perform more exercises and to maintain his fitness.
The first time when I got him, as you can see, he was not going to be a lot of the exercises. Now, he can do more of the exercises and now he can adapt, so I can change and use different things.
I can use different variations of weights, I can change the weight of the medicine balls. I’ve done a lot of things, and he has just really adapted to the strength work.
It’s like you have a kid in high school as a freshman who was involved in math, and as he evolves, he is going to be able to do more difficult problems.
You start from zero and you go to 10. Boxing-wise, Nacho had him at 10, but me, I started out at zero as a conditioning coach, because it was a new thing for him. Now, we’ve gotten to a very good level.
Marquez in 2011 at the weigh-in for the third fight (left), and Marquez on Friday.
RingTV.com: Will Marquez need a knockout to win, or will he have the endurance to box over 12 rounds with the added bulk?
AH: I think that a knockout would always be welcome from every boxer. Why? Because nobody wants to leave it up to the judges. Everybody is scared of the judges.
So I think that Manny is going to try to go for the knockout, Juan is going to try to go for the knockout. So, at the same time, it’s very hard to determine that.
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photos by Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com