GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/8 Nov) – For awhile, Manny Pacquiao used to wear “No Fear” apparel, being one of its then budding product endorser.
Pacquiao now wears the universally recognizable slash brand Nike, a testament to his certified crossover star status not only in the sports of boxing but also in the American mainstream media as well.
On Sunday, Pacquiao will try to put a closure and finish his trilogy with arch nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico.
Their rivalry has spanned well over seven years involving two close but controversial fights that could have gone either way.
Pacquiao holds the edge over Marquez with a narrow split decision win four years after their first fight ended in a debatable draw in 2004.
Both fighters see each other as thorn on their sides although Pacquiao can easily walk away and claim there is nothing left to prove in fighting Marquez for a third time.
But trilogies are supposed to happen that way.
One more fight that puts a decisive ending to a rivalry.
When they first fought, Marquez was physically the bigger man. The second time around, Pacquiao had to keep in check his weight as he was then already a full lightweight trying to snatch Marquez’s super featherweight title.
On Sunday, the roles will be reversed.
Pacquiao is both literally and figuratively the bigger man.
At the agreed weight of 144 pounds, Marquez has bulked up his muscle tones hoping that he can still be the feared counter puncher that he was who gave Pacquiao all the fits that the Filipino could handle.
But more than bulking up to be able to match and negate Pacquiao’s speed and power, Marquez’ corner knew that Sunday’s fight could end in a snap.
The inimitable Nacho Beristain has grudgingly admitted that Marquez will be facing a different Pacquiao this time around.
He and Marquez no longer see Pacquiao as a one-dimensional attacker who lived and die with his powerful left hand.
This time the watchful eyes of Beristain during Marquez’s training has never been so intense. Marquez has never before undergone a conditioning that approximates Pacquiao’s rigid regimen over the last four years since Alez Ariza arrived in Team Pacquiao’s camp.
Both Beristain and Marquez know this is their last chance at inflicting the greatest humiliation on Pacquiao.
But they also realize that, now more than ever, Pacquiao now has what it takes to finally knock the cold out of Marquez.
In fact, Beristain fears this and Marquez too.
This is the fight both will wish they had not taken.
(Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com.)