How do you prepare to fight a bitter rival for a fourth bout, believing you have beaten them on three separate occasions, but have no official victories to show for it?
Juan Manuel Marquez will be aiming to make it 4th time lucky against Manny Pacquiao. A draw followed by two controversial decisions have left many in the boxing world go back and fourth on the victor of the bouts but as we head into the 4th and most likely penultimate bout what can Marquez do to get a official win on the board?
After 36 rounds, its safe to say Marquez knows Pacquiao almost inside out and wont be requiring to study much film, although even at this stage, there are some adjustments Marquez can make to get the victory.
Bigger, Faster, Stronger
What can’t be disputed is that Marquez has a distinct skill advantage over Pacquiao. Technically, he’s significantly more advanced. Pacquiao‘s big advantage is in his athletic ability. He’s won many rounds in the clashes by just pure hustle and it appears his fluid movements are more impressionable on the judges.
Under the guidance of Strength and conditioning coach, Angel Hernandez, Marquez was physically in the best shape of his career heading into the 3rd fight, gaining significant muscle mass.
Marquez and Hernandez will somehow have to continue to improve physically to further close the Athletic gap and allow Marquez’s superior boxing ability come to fruition.
Play the game
Marquez has an inbuilt physiological advantage, which should not only be maintained but enhanced if he keeps his composure and discipline both in and out of the ring. Pacquiao is under considerably greater pressure heading into the 4th fight, not only to win, but to win decisively.
It was very clear in the 3rd fight, he grew increasingly frustrated, abandoned setting up his shots, desperately chasing the one punch knockout. This fell right into Marquez’s hands and is destined to always give him great success.
Things are unlikely to be much different in the upcoming bout. Pacquiao will be pressing for a stoppage, most likely abandoning his jab, at this point he may be past making any significant adjustments. He knows he can hurt Marquez if he catches him, but this will once again allow Marquez to utilize his legendary counter shots.
Striking the right balance
Perhaps the key deciding factor in a potential Marquez victory is putting himself in positions to clearly win a decision or score a stoppage.
This will be a tough conundrum, the first two fights are a painful reminder that the moments he tried to force the issue he was either knocked down or badly hurt ultimately costing him both fights. In the 3rd fight, Marquez showed a definite reluctance to engage, especially in the 2nd half of the fight, ultimately costing him victory once more.
Marquez’s unique ability to step back from Pacquiao’s onslaughts and counter with combinations will again be a key factor. Following one of his trademark attacks, Pacquiao often leaves himself off-balance. Not only does Marquez have to fire off his usual countering combinations, he has to make the shots count, land cleaner and cause more damage.
In addition to this he must carefully select moments to initiate exchanges, no only to keep Pacquiao guessing but also to grab the attention of the judges.