By DAVID CASUCO
LOS ANGELES, Nov 15 (Mabuhay) — How do you solve the problem like Juan Manuel Marquez?
Manny Pacquiao, 33 going 34, who is Boxing Writers of America Fighter of the Decade is thinking knockout even as Freddie Roach, his Hall of Fame trainer, admits that the Marquez puzzle is not the kind of present you look forward during these holidays.
We heard a lot from the Pacman camp about this pre-fight bravado of an early knockout. Easier said than done; and with a counter-puncher savvy like Marquez, the Sarangani solon is left with few choices. The KO option appears logical enough: Eliminate the foe right away and forever shake off that nasty perception that his victories over his Mexican nemesis were hallow as they were controversial.
But if the Pacman thinks this is 2004 when the lethal power of his left fist could expose the ocean floor of the Red Sea, he has another think coming, because this time Senor Dinamita, 39, is determine to detonate every last ounce of explosive left in his arsenal to cancel that humiliating memory when he kissed the canvas three times in a short span of three minutes and a couple of contentious defeats in the hands of the Filipino champ. This is Marquez’s last chance at redemption, and he does not want to end the fight looking at the judges; he wants the referee to end the fight telling the judges, “Marquez as el ganador!”
Meanwhile, up in the MGM Grand marquee on Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana, “It’s déjà vu all over again: Pacquiao-Marquez IV on December 8, 2012 at the Garden Arena. Bring with you windbreakers, leather jackets, and lip balms because the never-ending conflict is back in the Sin City. The forecast is explosive action inside and biting dry desert wind outside.
The updated Vegas betting odds are now pegged at -200 for the Filipino and +140 for Marquez. For the regular guys who are not familiar with gamblers’ lingo, it means a wager of $200 for Pacquiao earns $100 (if the Pacman wins). On the other hand, if you bet for Marquez, your $100 bet wins $140. Compared to last time where Pacquiao went as high as -700 favorite, oddsmakers are giving the Mexico City boxer a fair chance this fourth time around.
When Pacquiao and Marquez met for the third time, I had it in my scorecard that Marquez won seven rounds to Pacquiao’s five. I was a bit surprised at my running score, but I had to write the story the way I saw it. The judges split for the Pacman, but in my score card Marquez won, 115-113.
There were just a few of us FilAm sportswriters who wrote that Marquez won the fight. I remember writing that story, even as my friend was admonishing me that I was singing a discordant note because I am a Pinoy and should glorify what every Pinoy thinks is worthy of glory. But I relented not because whenever I looked at my running scorecard Marquez, indeed, won.
So then, my story was published and, true enough, my enemies increased a hundred fold. When I mentioned that I had Marquez winning in my score card, I got five nasty emails from Pinoy boxing fans chastising me, saying I am a very incompetent sportswriter and should stop being one. Still, I thanked the email writers for reading my story. You cannot blame the sports fans; they possess less rational brains and the most fanatic of them are essentially morons.
All things considered, the Pacquiao-Marquez IV is expected to be an extremely intense bout, with two evenly-matched veteran ring gladiators trying to outdo each other to prove a very significant point. This fight should ultimately settle everything there is to settle – the whines, the doubts, and the myriad of unanswered questions that still linger in the minds of the boxing fans in Las Vegas, in the Philippines, in Mexico and everywhere else.
(The author was sportswriter for the defunct Times Journal. He obtained his journalism degree from the UST and took expanded theological studies at the Angelus Bible Institute.Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org). (MNS)