It was certainly a surprise to me that Manny Pacquiao opted to take a fourth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez rather than face Timothy Bradley for a shot at redemption and the WBO welterweight belt. It was always to be assumed that Pacquiao would eventually go back to Marquez, but maybe after beating Bradley and righting the wrong done to him on June 9th.
In a perfect world, we would've seen the 8-division world champ and future hall of famer explore riskier, more "outside the box" opposition, but Manny is purely an in-house Top Rank fighter and, with just a couple of fights left in his storied career, it's obvious why he's treading on familiar ground.
In many minds, the 39-year-old Marquez already owns at least two victories over his arch-rival. In everyone's mind, the two world class warriors have fought three close battles that, give or take a round or two, could've gone either way.
The fourth clash between the two is likely to follow in the pattern of the previous three-- Pacquiao's pushes will be negated by Marquez's footwork and smart counter-punching while Marquez's efforts to negate Pacquiao's offense will keep him from offering sustained offensive surges of his own. The two styles completely negate one another, causing a virtual stalemate and leaving the judges to place the victory in the hands of the fighter with more star power.
When a fighter closes in on his 40th birthday, there's always the possibility that he will climb into the ring and find he has nothing left to give. But barring that possibility, Marquez will likely be the fighter he always was and Pacquiao is also not likely to change.
Nobody's expecting a lousy, dull fight. Both fighters are good enough and strong enough to have their moments. However, a real, back and forth war is also, most likely, out of the question. With their styles, their age, and their ring familiarity with one another, all subsequent bouts are likely to be closer, more subtle affairs.
For fans of tactical boxing, there's definitely some entertainment value to be had in Pacquiao-Marquez IV. For the rest of the fans, it's just alright. Nothing to get excited about.
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 BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Gary Purfield, Do It Again: Fourth Pacquiao-Marquez bout set for December 8, The Boxing Tribune