After Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez had fought to a second hotly contested thriller in their 2008 junior lightweight title bout -- a split decision victory for Pacquiao -- anticipation was high for their third bout in November 2011 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. But instead of providing closure for the rivalry, the result only intensified the debate with their most contentious decision to date.
By this time, Pacquiao, one month shy of 33, had become a full-fledged worldwide phenomenon, having moved up in weight to collect titles an astounding four times since his 2008 rematch with Marquez. Set to make the third defense of the welterweight title he won two years earlier by dominating a bigger Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao entered the third meeting with Marquez -- at a catchweight of 144 pounds -- as the overwhelming favorite to win by knockout.
Marquez, 38, had captured the world lightweight title in the three years since his previous meeting with Pacquiao, including all-action victories over Juan Diaz (twice) and Michael Katsidis. But the Mexican warrior had also been completely outclassed during a one-off at welterweight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., giving little confidence to most that he could contend with a suddenly larger -- and yet still powerful -- Pacquiao. But Marquez successfully added bulk without compromising his counterpunching speed or technique and was able to stun Pacquiao with heavy shots throughout. But despite what was arguably his finest performance of the three bouts, Marquez came up short again on the scorecards, dropping a heavily debated unanimous decision.
ESPN.com recently enlisted HBO to gather the fighters' thoughts as they reviewed each of their first three bouts and looked ahead to fight No. 4, set for Dec. 8 (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In this segment, Pacquiao and Marquez discuss their controversial third meeting.
Juan Manuel Marquez
After waiting a long time to get Pacquiao back in the ring for a third fight, it finally happened last November in Las Vegas, the same place the first two were held and where I felt my victories in those fights had been taken away by the judges.
I knew I needed to do something different for this third fight because it was going to be at a weight class above where I usually fight and where he was doing so well against bigger opponents. I wanted to keep my speed and defensive abilities, but I needed to pick up some power.
I trained very differently for this fight from the previous two. I used a strength and conditioning trainer for the first time and limited my time in the gym as far as sparring and the usual boxing work. I felt that I needed to bulk up and condition myself the right way, so as not to lose my other strengths and advantages as a technical boxer.
We worked really hard in camp for this third fight. In the ring, the fight was the easiest one of the three. It was my best performance as a professional. I dictated the rhythm of the fight and won all the exchanges between us throughout the fight. Manny had become a more predictable fighter. He has improved as a boxer and he is quite formidable at the weight that he now fights, but he wasn't as fast or explosive as he was in our previous two fights.
I felt I won nine of the 12 rounds and easily won the fight. He never came close to hurting me, and once again my boxing skills were too much for him. But once again the three judges took away my victory. And there is nothing I can do about them.
It seems that Manny has only one opponent every time we fight -- me -- while I have four: Manny and the three judges.
When we decided to fight Marquez for a third time, I was really excited. Freddie [Roach] and I had been hearing him complain for years about the decision in our second fight and Freddie told me this would be a great opportunity to "shut Marquez up for good." A definitive victory in this third fight would end our trilogy with emphasis.
We started training camp in the high altitude of Baguio in the Philippines and then moved to the Wild Card in Hollywood.
From the first day of training, Freddie and I thought we would beat Marquez. I was bigger than him, and I had defeated better, stronger opponents since our last fight.
We also underestimated him.
He was in great condition, as usual, but he also looked stronger. Maybe cutting urine out of his diet agreed with him? But he didn't hurt me.
What really surprised me was, he seemed to anticipate every move I made in the first rounds of the fight. It was frustrating because he was dictating the pace and style in many of those early rounds.
I knew I had to drastically change my plan for the remainder of the fight and I threw strategy out the window and became the aggressor. Marquez is an excellent counterpuncher, but I was still the faster and stronger fighter and I just went after him every chance I could. Freddie kept telling me three things between rounds: Keep your lead [right] foot outside of Marquez's, pressure Marquez and knock him out.
The plan seemed to work. After the eighth round, I felt the fight really turned around in my favor and Freddie and I thought I swept the final four rounds. Marquez had no meaningful response to my attacks. He barely fought in the 12th and final round.
I was not surprised I won the decision. I thought I won the fight.
Marquez wants to blame others for losing the decision, but he didn't do anything except run the last half of the fight. I brought the fight to him. I made the fight. If I had fought the same style of fight he fought, there wouldn't have been a fight at all. There would have been no action.
It's funny, when I got back to the dressing room, I thought, That finally settles that. I won't have to fight Juan Manuel Marquez again.