(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - When Manny Pacquiao fought Juan Manuel Marquez four years ago, it wasn’t clear who deserved the decision.

Marquez went down thrice in the first round but came back to survive the 12-round distance, using a counterpunching style to prevent Pacquiao from mounting another serious assault.

The official verdict was a split draw. But judge Burt Clements, who saw it 113-all, later confessed he made a mistake in giving Marquez an undeserved point in the first round. Judges John Stewart of New Jersey and Guy Jutras of Montreal gave Pacquiao the round, 10-6, on account of the three knockdowns. Clements thought the lowest a judge could score was seven. If Clements scored it 10-6 like Stewart and Jutras, Pacquiao would’ve won by a split decision.

The three-knockdown rule wasn’t in effect for the fight – which was why referee Joe Cortez didn’t stop it automatically when Marquez took his third trip to the canvas. Despite the waiver, a referee usually steps in to prevent a fighter from absorbing more punishment after a third knockdown. In Marquez’ case, Cortez held back because it didn’t seem he was badly hurt.

In the much-awaited rematch – dubbed “Unfinished Business” – at the Mandalay Resort and Casino on March 15, the three-knockdown rule won’t be in effect again. But it won’t make a difference because this time, Pacquiao will dispose of Marquez convincingly.

Here’s how:

• Smother inside. Pacquiao won’t give Marquez room to breathe. He’ll crowd the Mexican, push him back against the ropes, pin him into a corner and bang away. Marquez won’t be able to counter because Pacquiao will be in his face from the first bell.

• Attack with both hands. Marquez won’t know where Pacquiao’s bombs are coming from. In case Marquez hasn’t noticed, Pacquiao has become a dangerous two-fisted bomber. He can knock out an opponent with either a left hook or a right cross. Marquez will be so busy dodging bombs and covering up that his offense will sputter.

• Dart in and out. Pacquiao’s footspeed is a huge asset. He’ll stick and run, leaving Marquez throwing punches into the air. Before Marquez can unload, Pacquiao will be long gone.

• Circle away, throwing punches. Pacquiao should figure out which is Marquez’ dominant hand – left or right. Once he does, then he’ll know which route to take in circling away from the stronger hand. But the key is when Pacquiao takes off, he should keep punching.

• Jab, jab, jab. Pacquiao will pump his right jab repeatedly to stymie Marquez. It’ll set up his left straight or hook. If Marquez suspects a pattern, Pacquiao should double up on his jab or throw a right hook just to keep him guessing.

• Outwork Marquez. Pacquiao has to be in his best physical condition. He can’t get tired. If he slackens off and Marquez is in better shape, the situation could be critical. Pacquiao can’t afford to pace because he’s got to fight at full throttle from start to finish.

• Don’t be a standing target. Pacquiao has to be in almost perpetual motion. He’s up against a technician, a master boxer-puncher. If Pacquiao stands still, Marquez will pepper him with combinations. Lateral movement will come in handy both for defensive and offensive purposes. On defense, Marquez will find it difficult to tag Pacquiao moving side to side. On offense, Pacquiao will create angles for his hooks and crosses when slip-sliding away.

• Anticipate what Marquez does. Pacquiao will make Marquez fall into a trap of being predictable. If Pacquiao does his homework – and he will, it should be easy to anticipate what Marquez does in any given situation. Marquez’ tendencies should be clearly scouted and worked into a counter plan.

• Be unpredictable. Pacquiao should be flexible. He can’t show Marquez the same style round after round. Pacquiao will know when to box, when to slug, when to dance. He will mix up his punches, upstairs and downstairs. Marquez won’t be able to adjust because Pacquiao will be changing up time and again.

• Stay one step ahead. Pacquiao will out-think and out-smart Marquez. He’ll dictate the tempo and force Marquez to dance to his music, not the other way around. It should be Pacquiao showing the way, not Marquez who will be reduced to playing catch-up.

From all indications, Pacquiao will knock out Marquez inside eight rounds.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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