Boxing's greatest rivalry of recent years gets a fourth and possibly final instalment this Saturday, 8th December.
Manny Pacquiao is a global superstar, one of the few boxers to have achieved ultimate success both inside and outside the ring. Cited by many as the best pound for pound boxer in the world TIME Magazine said of him: "a fighter with enough charisma, intelligence and backstory to help rescue a sport lost in the labyrinth of pay-per-view".
At a time when the sport of boxing often makes the news for all the wrong reasons whether it be the farce of the David Haye and Dereck Chisora or the tragedy of Puerto Rican boxing great Hector "Macho" Camacho, who died tragically in a drive by shooting last month, Pacquiao is a powerful force for good, a congressman in his native Philippines and the face of the noble sport.
Juan Manuel Marquez is the pure Mexican fighter, considered one of the best technical boxers from the country that gave us so many of the sport's legends. The fight has a long and controversial history, already three fights have been very close ending a draw, a spit decision for Pacquiao and a majority decision for Pacquiao. The two fighters have compatible styles, both extremely technical, while the Fillipino tends to go for the big hits, the Mexican can absorb the attrition and counter very well.
Despite Pacquaio having the better of Márquez over the three previous meetings there is no such guarantee that he'll come out on top this time. In the build up Márquez has looked the hungrier of the two fighters, he has bulked up visibly and looks in the best shape of his life. On the other hand, some have suggested that Manny has taken soft-handed approach to his training this time, with out-of-the-ring distractions, politics and business interests has seen his form slip.
Márquez is coming off of a unanimous decision win over Serhiy Fedchenko in April while Pacquiao is coming off of a majority decision loss to Timothy Bradley in June. To make matters even more intriguing both fighters have claimed they'll be going for the knock out to prevent the possibility of another controversial decision.
The Mexican has the chops for this fight and he has the technique, but you can't underestimate the popular appeal of the Filippino and his legions of fans almost rioted when he lost on points to Bradley, they're desperate for at least a convincing, unanimous decision win for Manny to erase the hurt of that result in June. Still though, even though Pac-man arguably should have beaten Bradley, his athleticism seems not what it was. That will be telling in the later rounds and it will go to later rounds because the fighters are so evenly matched.
This is the last bite of the cherry for Márquez, if he loses, he won't get another chance at Pacquaio. That will act both as a spur for him to up his punch rate and to look for the KO. For Manny, he wants to lay this bout to rest once and for all and prove he is the better fighter. No matter the nature of his last loss, controversial as it was, he will want to avoid at all costs a successive defeat. Another loss could see his light diminish significantly and no one, least of all him, wants to see that happen.
It's an exciting prospect. One that will certainly provide value for money for over a million pay-per-view customers. As the fight the world wants to see, Pacquaio and Mayweather looks increasingly unlikely to ever happen, this is the best of boxing served to us on a silver platter.