MANILA, JUNE 27, 2011
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Top Rank chairman Bob Arum (photo) knows that WBO welterweight champion Rep. Manny Pacquiao won’t take challenger Juan Manuel Marquez lightly because the Mexican’s style is tailor-fit to negate the Filipino icon’s strengths.

“I think Marquez is a big test for Manny,” said Arum from Los Angeles in a recent telephone interview. “Manny is aware of that. Their first two fights were close. Manny has to be at his best to win over Marquez.”

Pacquiao and Marquez are set to slug it out at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 12. At stake will be Pacquiao’s WBO 147-pound title although the fighters agreed to face off at a catchweight of 144 considering Marquez is moving up from the lightweight division. Marquez is the reigning WBC 135-pound titlist.

Arum said an extensive media tour to announce the Pacquiao-Marquez fight will start in Manila in late August or early September with the involved parties attending each stop.

“We’ll all be in Manila – Marquez, Freddie Roach, (Nacho) Beristain,” said Arum. “Manila is the first leg. We’re going all over to promote this fight. This will be competitive. Manny will go all out to destroy Marquez’ defense which is quite good. I think you’ll see Manny show his old fire and fury against Marquez who’s not going to back down. I expect Manny to throw his best punches.”

Marquez has repeatedly claimed he was robbed of victory in his two fights against Pacquiao. The first ended in a split draw even as the Mexican went down thrice in the opening round. The outcome should’ve been a win by split decision for Pacquiao but judge Burt Clements erred in scoring the first round 10-7 instead of 10-6. The second was another close encounter with Pacquiao eking out a split 12-round verdict on the strength of decking Marquez once in the third.

Arum dismissed the notion that Pacquiao has lost his killer’s instinct since his last three fights went the distance with Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Sugar Shane Mosley.

“Manny doesn’t want to rain more punishment on an opponent when he sees that he has no chance of winning,” said Arum. “When he sees an opponent decisively beaten, he looks for the fight to be stopped. I think it’s a good thing that he can be compassionate.”

Arum, however, said if Pacquiao is up against an opponent who’s fighting back, he’ll be as ferocious as he was in disposing of Ricky Hatton and his other knockout victims.

Marquez was described by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated as an opponent “who can walk the walk – he fought Pacquiao to a draw in 2004 and lost a narrow decision in ‘08 – but doesn’t talk the talk, not in the right language, anyway.” Mannix said Top Rank wouldn’t wait for Floyd Mayweather Jr. to step up to the plate and signed up Marquez as Pacquiao’s second and last opponent for the year.

Mannix said Pacquiao, the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, shouldn’t waste his time battering “candlepins and cackle” and instead treat his fans with bouts that will enhance his legacy. “He should spend what time he has left in his boxing career fighting the best, not just those who are trying to play the part,” said Mannix.

Marquez should fit the bill as a worthy opponent in Mannix’ terms of reference.

It is still not certain which cable network will host the pay-per-view telecast of the fight. CBS-Showtime aired the Pacquiao-Mosley fight but HBO had the rights to the Filipino’s previous US bouts. Pacquiao has brought in over a million pay-per-view buys in at least one fight every year since the Oscar de la Hoya match in 2008.

Graham Houston, writing in Boxing Monthly, said he felt that Pacquiao and Mosley were too friendly with each other at the weigh-in the day before their contest last May and it made for an unexciting clash.

“Mosley smilingly shook hands with Pacquiao and gripped the Filipino fighter’s right arm with his left hand in a gesture of goodwill,” said Houston. “Fighters don’t have to be snarling and sneering at each other to show serious intent but Mosley seemed particularly eager to show Pacquiao that he meant him no ill. Maybe, Sugar Shane sensed he would need Pacquiao’s benevolence to get him through the 12-round bout.”

To assure Houston, Marquez won’t be like Mosley at all. The Mexican has unfinished business with Pacquiao and wants to prove he’s the better man. He feels animosity towards Pacquiao and that’s a sure sign bad blood will spill in the ring when they finally get it on.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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