GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/11 Sept) – It will be a vastly different Manny Pacquiao that will greet Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez when they meet for the third, and maybe, last time in November.
First, he will be facing a comfortable welterweight who no longer had the excess poundage he used to have while fighting as a featherweight.
Second, Pacquiao is no longer the predictable left-handed happy puncher.
Third, the Filipino boxing champion has a score to settle and when he is in that mood and mode, Pacquiao is the most dangerous man on the planet.
Just ask Erik Morales.
The outcome of their third meeting, many predict, will no longer be as close or as controversial as their first two meetings.
I am of the same opinion.
If Manny was bothered by the heavy counterpunching of Marquez when they were fighting at the lower weight limits, the bulk and heft he has added up, all ripping muscles, are simply too heavy not to negate the Mexican’s power punches.
After all, Manny absorbed the heaviest punches of Miguel Angel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, both legitimate welterweights.
I do not think a bloated lightweight Marquez punches harder than both of them.
If Marquez was not able to put down Pacquiao in 24 rounds that they engaged themselves in two wars of attrition, which is the only way he could win, there is little reason to believe he will this time.
It is a different story the other way around.
If Manny is again right on the button with his signature left, I do not think Marquez will again be able to survive.
Marquez is an ageing warrior who could one day end up in the Boxing Hall of Fame.
His last four fights however showed clear signs of slowing down. When you age, the first to go are your reflexes. You may still retain the power but you cannot add more than 10 percent of what you already have at 38 years old. And I seriously doubt he could still keep up with the frenetic pace of Pacquiao for twelve rounds.
This time, too, he may not be able to see what Pacquiao’s right hand will be doing and where they will be coming.
Yes, Manny has evolved into a complete boxer, which he had to as he moved up the welterweight classes where he faced bigger and more powerful punchers.
Pacquiao is an altogether different package now.
His arsenal now includes the right cross, hooks and uppercuts – all loaded up. It would also be wise to once and a while use his right jabs just to add to Marquez’s confusions.
But everybody would like to see Marquez engage Pacquiao in a toe-to-toe exchange.
If that happens, expect an early lights out.
It will be party time.
And you know who parties best after a smashing win.
(Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com)