Juan Manuel Marquez knows that his November fight with Manny Pacquiao will be one of the biggest fights of his career.
It won’t be like the first encounter, when he salvaged a draw, or like the close split decision he lost three years ago.
This will be his ultimate battle, his swan song before hanging up his gloves for good.
For the first two fights, Juanma was always the underdog, but still came close to winning against Pacquiao. However, this time, he is truly the underdog, in every sense of the word.
At 38 years old, and with 59 total fights under his belt, Marquez is a step slower. His quick reflexes have sometimes betrayed him, and it’s slowly becoming more of a mind game for Juanma— when the mind is willing, but the body is not.
Push, push, push.
As he goes through another grueling session, he knows Manny Pacquiao won’t rest; he sustains his energy from the first round all the way to the 12th. Pacquiao always prepares to go to war for 20 or more rounds.
Never give him an opening. Counter…counter.
This is what made him successful in their last two fights─every Pacquiao onslaught countered with precise and calculated punches.
“Pak…pak,” as the sound of the gloves hitting the mitts echoes throughout the gym. “That’s it… that’s it,” as Nacho Beristain loudly applauds his prized pupil.
This is what Marquez has been craving for the past three years.
He has handled fighters far younger than Pacquiao, and he stood his ground against the much heavier Floyd Mayweather Jr. There is no such thing as impossible in boxing; as long as you’ve got two arms, you’ve got an equal chance of winning.
This has become the only thing that keeps Marquez going: chance.
Manny Pacquiao has been steadily improving after his fight with Marquez three years ago. He’s fought bigger and more powerful punchers, and almost knocked out every one of them.
Marquez will now be facing a two-fisted monster, who had been campaigning in the welterweight division and light middleweight for his last four fights. Juanma looked bloated when he fought Floyd, and he was slow on his punches.
It has become an improbable feat to conquer.
However, Marquez won’t listen, and he won’t doubt himself going into his third fight with Pacquiao. He simply doesn’t care when critics say he’s old; he is prepared to die in the ring.
It’s slowly becoming a mind game.