Experts' picks: Pacquiao-Marquez IV

Originally Published: December 6, 2012
By staff | ESPN

There likely aren't two rival fighters in recent memory who know each other inside and out the way Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez do. After engaging in three all-time classic bouts in the past eight years, producing three contentious and strongly debated decisions, the two will square off Saturday in Las Vegas for what will likely be the final time. And depending upon how you scored each of the first three bouts, whichever fighter wins No. 4 could very well lay claim to having won the rivalry. With his timely counterpunching and legendary determination, Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) has been nothing but trouble for the aggressive Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs), who has relied on activity and a power-punching advantage throughout the rivalry.

Below, our panel of experts picks the winner of the main event, predicts the knockout of the night and pinpoints the undercard fighter who has the chance to help himself more than any other on Saturday.

Dan Rafael's analysis

Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV: Honestly, I have no idea who is going to win. Let's just flip a coin. The first three fights have all been extremely close and could have gone either way. I had Marquez winning the first two fights and the third fight a draw, but I have no quarrel with anyone who had any of them the other way as long as they scored them close. I expect another close one and I figure the law of averages is on Marquez's side, meaning that in another tight fight, he would finally get the benefit of the doubt from the judges in close rounds and ultimately get the decision.

Knockout of the night: Featherweight prospect Javier Fortuna is 23 and a dynamic offensive fighter with huge potential. He has already scored some sensational knockouts. By fighting on a Pacquiao-Marquez undercard, Fortuna is in, by far, his highest-profile fight and facing an undefeated, but untested, opponent in Patrick Hyland. If Fortuna performs the way he did in other recent fights, we could see a repeat of the great knockout he had against undefeated Yuandale Evans in April.

Undercard: Yuriorkis Gamboa, the former featherweight titlist, has been out of action for 15 months and has a good chance to remind us all how good he is. The Olympic gold medalist has a chance to re-assert himself as a pound-for-pound-caliber fighter and claim an interim junior lightweight belt with a good showing in the co-feature against Michael Farenas. Because he's in the semifinal position on the card, a lot of people will see what Gamboa can do and, if he is as offensive-minded as we have seen him be in the past, it could leave a big impression on fans.

Kieran Mulvaney's analysis

Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV: Even if you think Pacquaio won one, two or all of the previous fights, you have to admit that Juan Manuel Marquez gives him the hardest time, by far, of any of his opponents. Marquez will do so again on Saturday, circling to his left, cracking him with right-hand leads and frustrating him. Close early, it will become less so at the end as Pacquiao's technique deserts him. Marquez gets the win -- and this time he gets the decision, too.

Knockout of the night: I'm not entirely convinced that anyone is getting knocked out on this pay-per-view. I'm tempted to suggest that Javier Fortuna might do it to Patrick Hyland, but ultimately I think the biggest gulf in talent is between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Michael Farenas, and that Gamboa will underline that gulf with a stoppage. There are reasons to think he might not: Three of Gamboa's past four bouts have gone to decision, he has been out of the ring 15 months and he's moving up a weight class. But I'll still pick the Cuban to finish in style.

Undercard: It's tempting to go with the winner of the Mercito Gesta-Miguel Vasquez scrap (which I suspect will be Gesta). But I have to go Gamboa again, especially if I'm picking him to score a KO. At his best he's dazzling, and just as important, he's showing up with boxing's new "It" man, 50 Cent. By all accounts, the ring entrance alone will be worth the price of admission. Put it all together, and Gamboa steals the show.

Brian Campbell's analysis

Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV: After three amazingly close fights in this historic all-action rivalry, the fourth fight will finally provide the closure and definitive outcome this series has lacked. Pacquiao, the younger, quicker and more powerful fighter, has endured enough criticism due to the contested scorecards in his two victories to give him enough motivation to dial up the PacMan of old in order to settle the debate for good. Gone will be the unfocused and somewhat passive Pacquiao of recent memory, which was more of the reason for Marquez's resurgent performance in the third fight than most realize. Expect multiple knockdowns and -- for once -- a clear Pacquiao decision.

Knockout of the night: There is such a thing in boxing as "out of sight, out of mind." We not only haven't seen Yuriorkis Gamboa in a ring since September 2011, but don't look now, the lightning-quick Cuban will be just weeks shy of his 31st birthday when he finally makes his return against Michael Farenas. Gamboa, who is moving up to challenge for a vacant junior lightweight belt, is a pound-for-pound talent who will be aiming to make a statement in his first fight under new promoter 50 Cent. Look for Gamboa to force an exciting stoppage as a result of his high-volume activity.

Undercard: In many ways, Mercito Gesta -- a Filipino southpaw with an exciting style -- is cut from the same cloth as Pacquiao. But the 25-year-old Gesta isn't nearly as complete a fighter, nor has he yet truly stepped up in class throughout his first 27 bouts. He'll get that chance when he challenges for Miguel Vazquez's lightweight title in a huge opportunity for Gesta to become a known guy. He'll enter as the underdog against the more talented -- and too often passive -- Vazquez. But like a young Pacquiao himself many years ago, Gesta can be expected to steal the show in his first title bout.