The final fight of a trilogy inevitably invites contemplation of the previous two bouts, and this Saturday's third clash between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez is no exception. But Marquez trainer Nacho Beristain told reporters this week that, often, the fighters who meet for the third time bear little resemblance to those who fought the first time: Lessons have been learned, experience has been gained and improvements have been made.
Pacquiao, for one, is certain that if Marquez is expecting to face the same man he fought in 2004 and 2008, he's in for a surprise.
"I don’t think that [studying] the last two fights will help for this fight, because it's a big difference. I've changed a lot, my style. I think I'm more improved right now, compared to three years ago, four years ago," he said this week. "I think I'm more experienced, especially my strategy and techniques, and more improved in my right hand, and also movement side to side, and timing. I've learned how to be a counterpuncher as well as an aggressive fighter."
That said, Pacquiao acknowledges that "the last two fights helped me a lot. I learned a lot, especially [how to fight] a counterpuncher."
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, believes the fact that Marquez is bulking up for this fight is a sign that the Mexican intends to stand and fight; Pacquiao says he shares that belief but, perhaps reminded of the contrast between Shane Mosley's prefight bravado and his actual in-ring performance last May, he cautioned that the proof would only come once the bell has rung.
"It's easy to say he'll rumble or go to-to-toe," he said, smiling. "I've heard that before with my opponents, but when they get in the ring it's not true. But we will see on Saturday whether it's true or not."