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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Pacquiao-Marquez III: It's about time

By Dan Rafael

At long last, we're going to get a third fight between pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and fierce rival Juan Manuel Marquez. In fact, after agreeing on Tuesday to terms for the fight, Marquez put pen to paper on Wednesday and signed with Top Rank for the Nov. 12 bout.

Pacquiao's side of the deal must still be ironed out, but take this to the bank: It's a mere formality that Top Rank's Bob Arum, Pacquiao and his adviser, Michael Koncz, will work things out in the coming weeks.

Pacquiao-Marquez III is the fight that should have taken place on May 7 instead of Pacquiao's mess against Shane Mosley, a fight that I hated from the moment it was made, for one simple reason: Mosley had looked woeful in his two previous fights and didn't deserve a shot at the No. 1 fighter in the world. I thought, based on those performances, Pacquiao would win easily, which he did.

Even before Pacquiao-Mosley was made, as Floyd Mayweather Jr. continued to sit on the sidelines with no apparent interest in facing Pacquiao, I felt that Marquez -- based on his recent performances and rich history with Pacquiao -- was the clear choice to get the fight.

At least he has it now.

Some folks say they don't like Pacquiao-Marquez III because Marquez lost to Mayweather in his only welterweight fight and would have to face Pacquiao at a maximum contract weight of 144 pounds, nine more than where Marquez currently campaigns as lightweight champion. (Keep in mind, Marquez probably won't weigh as much as 144 and Pacquiao has no issue making that weight -- and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him come in lower.)

To me, the weight in this matchup is not a big deal. Pacquiao is a great fighter. So is Marquez. But more important, Marquez deserves the fight, even if it's a little heavier than where he usually boxes.

Even more important, you know Marquez will let it all hang out. He will come to fight. He will come to win. It will most likely be exciting, for however long it lasts. There will undoubtedly be some drama, at least.

I'd rather see Pacquiao perhaps score an early-ish knockout than face a fighter unwilling to engage. Marquez won't be content to just survive. If he loses, he will go down swinging, which is all you can ask for.

That's a far cry from, say, Joshua Clottey, who barely threw any punches against Pacquiao last year, content to go the distance. And it's certainly a far cry from Mosley, who didn't try to win after the third round, even admitting that he was unwilling to take risks after getting dropped. Marquez won't just take the $5 million guarantee and fight to survive, as Mosley did.

For anyone critical of Pacquiao-Marquez III, do yourself a favor and refresh your memory. Go watch their two epic fights. They were hellacious classics, among the best bouts I have covered from ringside. As much respect as I have for Pacquiao, I strongly believe Marquez won both of their meetings, the 2004 featherweight championship fight that was ruled a draw and the 2008 junior lightweight title fight that Pacquiao won via highly controversial split decision. Even if you thought Pacquiao was the rightful winner, both bouts were undeniably close, competitive and terrific.

They were great fights that beg for another chapter.

Marquez, at two different weights, gave Pacquiao his toughest fights, by far, since his last loss in 2005 to Erik Morales. Obviously, there is something about his style that is tough for Pacquiao, and vice versa.

Besides, without Mayweather around, there is really no other more legitimate, more marketable, more fan-friendly fight for Pacquiao than a third go with Marquez.

I say bring it on.