Manny Pacquiao has two wins and a draw in three fights with Juan Manuel Marquez, but the feat is hardly satisfying to the Filipino superstar. Everywhere he goes, he hears about those three fights, and how many believe he lost at least two of them.
Some credible boxing folks believe he should be 0-3.
And so, as if to remind himself of his goal when he fights Marquez for a fourth time on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Pacquiao scribbled a note on a sheet of paper as he sat at the dais Monday for a kick-off news conference in Los Angeles.
Pacquiao wrote, "I have to knock him out," tracing the paper so hard it left an impression on the table cloth that was visible much later.
A knockout, no matter who scores it, would certainly make things much more definitive. The first three fights have been epic battles, but excruciatingly close affairs that were difficult to score.
Pacquiao chose to fight Marquez instead of Timothy Bradley in December, despite Bradley's controversial June 9 victory over him.
"I already beat Bradley," Pacquiao said. "Everyone knows it. I just didn't get my hand raised."
Like most people, Marquez expected Pacquiao to be fighting Bradley in the fall. He even considered it a possibility that Pacquiao could wind up facing Floyd Mayweather Jr. There was only one fighter Marquez was certain Pacquiao wouldn't face again.
"I never imagined I'd be fighting Manny again," Marquez said.
He also never expected to be back in Las Vegas. After losing the third fight between them last year, Marquez vowed never to fight in Las Vegas again, believing he couldn't get a fair shake from the judges.
His team, led by promoter Fernando Beltran and trainer/manager Nacho Beristain, pushed hard to put the bout in Mexico City.
But when fight promoter Bob Arum showed them how it penciled out financially, it was apparent the fight wouldn't work anywhere but in Las Vegas, where the casino money could help it get made.
And so, Marquez reluctantly agreed to give it a fourth try in the same town.
"It's no secret I don't want to fight in Vegas again," Marquez said in near-flawless English. "You see my fight, you see the [Pacquiao]-Bradley fight, you wonder. I don't know what is happening there, but I would rather fight in Mexico.
"It didn't work the way I wanted. If I wanted to fight Pacquiao, it had to be in Las Vegas. So, I decided to fight in Las Vegas."
Marquez has made the fights closer than anyone could have imagined they'd be with his counter punching style. But Pacquiao, who hasn't scored a stoppage since a 12th-round finish of Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14, 2009, insisted much of it was his fault.
He said he took Marquez lightly last year and vowed that won't be the case this time around.
He'll turn 34 a few days after the fight, and he has an extraordinary amount of balls in the air at any one time. He's running for re-election to Congress in the Philippines, he's considering a promotional venture with rapper 50 Cent and he's got myriad business deals.
But fighting, he said, remains important in his life. He's intent on proving that on Dec. 8.
"I want to erase the issue with the fans that I don't have that hunger, the same hunger I had when I was 25," Pacquiao said. "I do want to fight; I do have that hunger."
All three of his matches with Marquez were Fight of the Year candidates. In 2004, he knocked Marquez down three times in the first round, but Marquez came back to get the draw. In 2008, Pacquiao scored another knockdown that helped him to a split decision. And in 2011, Pacquiao won a majority decision that many felt he lost.
He lost to Bradley in a split decision on June 9 in a fight that nearly the entire world believes he won. But Pacquiao felt he had nothing to prove against Bradley and said Marquez would make for more pleasing fights. He didn't mention the financial aspects, but clearly, a fourth Marquez fight is more lucrative than a Bradley rematch.
Pacquiao sighed when he learned that Bradley taunted him after he chose to go with Marquez.
"Before the fight, all I heard him say was, 'I'm going to fight toe-to-toe with Manny Pacquiao,' " Pacquiao said. "Then, when the fight happened, he ran. The fight wasn't that exciting because he ran and didn't do what he said he'd do."
Pacquiao doesn't have to worry about what Marquez will do. They've fought 36 rounds against each other and know each other like only those who've fought multiple times can.
He knows he's in for a fierce battle. But Marquez is cooking up a few surprises.
"I have to adjust, because what I did, even though I thought I won those fights, the judges didn't give them to me," Marquez said. "He knows me, and I know him. But boxing is a sport you have to adjust and adapt.
"It's very important for me to knock Pacquiao out. I don't want to be in the ring and worked so hard and know I won the fight and have my heart [broken] again. I need to knock him out this time."
That makes two of them.
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- Manny Pacquiao
- Juan Manuel Marquez