LAS VEGAS – George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
OK, now I'm with you, and I don't have any idea who the heck Santayana was or how what he said will affect Saturday's WBC super featherweight championship bout on HBO Pay-Per-View at Mandalay Bay between the underdog champion, Juan Manuel Marquez, and the favored challenger, Manny Pacquiao.
I remember the first two rounds of their epic 2004 fight across the street at the MGM Grand Garden. I remember Pacquiao strafing Marquez with left after powerful left. I remember Marquez hitting the deck three times in the opening round. I remember Marquez taking shots that should have felled a heavyweight in the second.
But I also remember Rounds 3 through 12, when Marquez was at his counter-punching best. I remember Marquez largely neutralizing Pacquiao's powerful left. I remember Marquez landing his own right, over and over, as the rounds progressed and he slowly climbed back into the fight, which was ruled a draw.
Marquez and Pacquiao seem to be opposites on most issues these days. Pacquiao is left-handed. Marquez is right-handed.
Pacquiao is all about speed and athleticism. Marquez is about technique and strategy.
Pacquiao was promoted by Golden Boy but fled Oscar De La Hoya's company and is now promoted by Bob Arum's Top Rank. Marquez was promoted by Top Rank in the 2004 bout but ditched Arum and is blissfully happy with Golden Boy now.
But the one thing this pair agrees upon is that Pacquiao-Marquez I will have little bearing with the way Pacquiao-Marquez II unfolds.
"It's a totally different fight now," Pacquiao said. "I'm a much better fighter."
Marquez said much the same thing, pointing out that each of them is committed to a different strategy in the fight.
The conventional wisdom says that Pacquiao should win. He, after all, is the harder puncher and had Marquez on the floor three times and nearly out in their prior encounter.
He's also added another weapon to his arsenal that didn't exist in 2004. Then, he was strictly a left-handed fighter. If you could take away his left – admittedly, not an easy thing to do – you could blunt his offense.
But now, after nearly four more years of fine-tuning his game with Freddie Roach, Pacquiao has a dangerous, if highly underrated, right hand.
That right made much of the difference in his last fight with Erik Morales, when Pacquiao raked Morales repeatedly with hard hooks on the inside.
He's a two-fisted puncher with pop from each side and thus the ability to be dangerous when on the inside with hooks and uppercuts and from the outside with the crushing straight left.
Marquez, though, is a superb boxer who works deftly behind his jab. He was masterful in the first fight the way he created openings for his right by using his jab.
But as his head cleared, he couldn't resist the urge to brawl, if ever so briefly, with Pacquiao. Because of Pacquiao's game changing power, that's never a good idea and usually a serious mistake.
Marquez is now 34 and not nearly as quick as he was in 2004, which he undoubtedly realizes. And so, he's not as apt to throw a jab and then a right hand, knowing he'll be leaving himself in the face of Pacquiao's power.
He's more likely to resort to a jabbing contest, one he'd win nearly ever time. The short, hard jab that Marquez throws as an offensive weapon – as opposed to the long, slow one he leaves out as a defensive maneuver – can help him pile up points and blunt Pacquiao's left.
It wouldn't be shocking if Pacquiao were to score a resounding victory and lift the WBC belt from Marquez. He is, after all, younger, quicker and the hard puncher.
Boxing, though, is not all about youth, speed and power. And Marquez is not only a master boxer, he has a brilliant tactician in his corner, Nacho Beristain, who is superb at deciphering an opponent's weakness.
An all-out action fight will heavily favor Pacquiao, who is slightly better than a 2-1 favorite.
But Marquez will look to fight in spurts and favor a more controlled pace.
Somehow, I get the feeling he's going to be able to do that and pull out a unanimous decision.
He's the one most apt to remember the past. And after he's watching the tape of himself hitting the mat three times in the first round of their first bout dozens of times, I'm fairly certain that's a piece of history he's eager to avoid repeating.