This weekend is a huge weekend for combat sports. The UFC’s Heavyweight Championship will be disputed on FOX, for the first time putting MMA’s most prestigious title on the line for the public to see for free. The main course for fight fans however, is HBO PPV’s boxing bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. These men are meeting for the third time, and everyone has Pacquiao a prohibitve favorite (I’ve seen it as high as 12 to 1, with most sportsbooks settling in around 8 to 1 in favor of PacMan). We have a live ‘dog here folks, let’s take a look.
First of all, this is certainly the biggest fight of 2011. The reason the fight is so intriguing is how close the first two bouts were. Marquez, all of Mexico, and even many neutral observers believe that Marquez won those fights. Marquez has been looking for his third bout for a long time – he has waited, changed promoters and negotiated, literally chasing PacMan and his team across the world. One time, he made a stir by showing up in the Phillipines wearing a shirt that said “I beat Manny Pacquiao 2x’.
The first two fights are out there, go have a look at them and judge for yourself. Here are some facts. The two men have battled for 24 total rounds. The combined score of those 24 rounds is 679 points for Pacquiao, 678 points for Marquez. Pacquiao was credited with 4 knock downs, which many say was the difference, as Marquez was definitely able to win rounds.
When the two met before, both were already top fighters in the prime of their careers (Pacquiao is 5 years younger). It was after the second fight (the previous fights were in 2004 and 2008) however, that Pacquiao hired Freddie Roach as his trainer. This union with Roach is credited with turning Pacquiao from a top notch boxer to possibly the greatest of all time, and creating a world wide icon.
Pacquiao has improved every aspect of his game, and he has stayed active and been dominant against good, solid competition. His game has clearly jumped another level since he last met Marquez.
But enough to warrant being 8 to 1 favorite? Marquez is no slouch – I have heard Al Bernstein call him a sure fire first ballot hall of famer. You can find a lot of support that calls Marquez the greatest Mexican fighter of all time.
As you watch the first two fights, you realize that Marquez has a good style to match up with Pacquiao. He is rugged and can fight hurt, he is fast and very precise.
They are fighting roughly 10 lbs up from their last meeting, and it is thought that Pacquiao’s gradual weight gain was done correctly under the tutelage of Alex Ariza (Strength and Conditioning). After watching the weigh ins and the previews building up this fight, it looks like Marquez has done an equally impressive job in bulking up without affecting other parts of his game.
So why is Pacquiao such a favorite? It’s the HYPE! PacMan has become more than just a boxer, he is a force of nature, and most people will pick him to win this fight.
That is what creates a good underdog opportunity for the betting man. This fight is much closer than the odds at the sportsbooks. That is why, today, on the day of the fight I would mosey on in and lay some cash on Marquez. You will rarely get to bet a more skilled underdog at 8-1 or more. Good luck folks!