COMMENTARY | The best way to assess the Filipino icon and his various performances over the course of a stellar seventeen year career is to draw the comparison between his work and a force of nature.
The damage generated by a force of nature often has to do with when it strikes and the relative level of preparedness of where it happens.
For instance, fans might see the fierce, grinding hurricane that gradually tore Marco Antonio Barrera to pieces in their 2003 first encounter or, perhaps, the deadly lightning-strike force that destroyed Ricky Hatton in just under two rounds. Also possible is the gradual, bone-rattling earthquake that shattered Miguel Cotto to pieces.
On the other hand, fans could also be forced to bear witness to the mildly unpleasant afternoon drizzle of his twelve-round stinker with Shane Mosley or, maybe, his on-again, off-again thunderstorm loss to Timothy Bradley.
But, through it all, the common theme when it comes to Manny Pacquiao is that the force of nature within him depends greatly on who he happens to be fighting. Someone capable of handling it and mentally prepared to do so will temper the storm. The unholy devastation can be contained-- and it has even been defeated.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Manny Pacquiao is a living, breathing human being with legitimate technical and tactical flaws that can be exploited. The element of surprise, early on, and good, smart matchmaking, later on, have given him the air of invincibility, but the weaknesses are there. It just takes the right kind of opponent to take advantage of them.
Juan Manuel Marquez just happens to be that "right" kind of opponent.
Throughout three fights and thirty-six rounds, Marquez has consistently shown the ability to frustrate and nullify the 8-division world champ. Whereas some fighters, here and there, have been able to expose the human underbelly of the fighting beast, Marquez has been able to do it on a regular basis.
The problem for Marquez is that, while he should be 2-0-1 for his efforts, he is officially 0-2-1 and the task of exposing the meek side of the raging storm is not an easy task. At 39 years of age, even with superior genetics and the help of strength and conditioning coach "Memo" Hernandez, battles are no longer so easily waged, opportunities are not so easily exploited.
The 33-year-old Pacquiao is also likely at the tail-end of his career, but more due to pressing responsibilities and assorted distractions outside of the ring. Physically, Manny is just fine and barely starting the decline from prime physical form.
Manny Pacquiao has promised a more aggressive approach this time around and the value of his brand as a fighter may depend on that after several consecutive tepid performances. The reality, though, is that fans will likely see the same fighter as usual, with perhaps a couple of tweaks here and there. The question will be whether Marquez can still be Marquez and whether he can still physically execute what needs to be done while simultaneously making a more convincing case for the judges. At 39, fighters tend to age overnight and that's especially problematic when they know that a decision win will be extremely tough to come by.
This Saturday, the force of nature known as Manny Pacquiao will bring his powers to the MGM Grand. Juan Manuel Marquez, like a city bracing for impact, sees it coming and has prepared to the best of his abilities. Now, it's just a question of watching the impact and seeing how it all plays out.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.