Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez just can’t quit each other.
Their first three fights, contested over the course of seven-plus years, were world-class affairs that elevated the legacies of both men.
The future Hall of Famers will meet for a fourth time, in a welterweight bout from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Saturday.
As of Thursday, online sportsbook 5Dimes.com had Pacquiao as a -270 favorite, while Marquez is + 230.
“The price on Pacquiao has been between -260 and -350, depending what part of the globe the sportsbook you play at is located,” renowned boxing oddsmaker Joey Oddessa told Covers.com. “I'm not looking for value in a fight, just a winner. I don't think Marquez will win the fight.
Pacquiao is 2-0-1 against Marquez, although that record could easily be reversed. In a 2004 featherweight bout, Marquez recovered from three first-round knockdowns to salvage a draw.
Almost four years later, Pacquiao eked out a split decision to retain his super featherweight belt. Last November, in a fight contracted for 144 pounds, Pacquiao won a controversial majority decision.
Things have changed since the third fight, when Pacquiao was a 10-to-1 favorite. In June, Pacquiao lost a dubious split decision to +300 underdog Timothy Bradley. Despite winning everywhere but on the official scorecards, the Bradley performance was underwhelming and marked the fifth consecutive fight in which Pacquiao failed to score a knockout.
Marquez, 39, appears to be aging gracefully. He rebounded from the last Pacquiao defeat to win a unanimous decision over Serhiy Fedchenko in April. His bulked-up physique, sculpted with the help of strength and conditioning coach Angel Hernandez, has narrowed the size gap.
After three close fights and no wins, the question remains: Can Marquez win a close decision against Pacquiao? As the Bradley fight proved, Pacquiao is not bulletproof on the judges’ scorecards.
The three judges for Saturday’s bout, John Keane, Steve Weisfeld and Adalaide Byrd, are reliable professionals. Weisfeld and Byrd correctly scored last week’s Austin Trout-Miguel Cotto fight for Trout.
Analyzing the judges, however, is a foolhardy exercise. Just when think you have the judges figured out, they stun you with a head-scratching verdict (see Pacquiao-Bradley).
“I think the Bradley fallout may help judging overall, but we can only determine that over a longer time frame,” Oddessa says. “In the high profile-bout between Cotto and Trout last week, the judges got the scores correct when only a minority thought Trout would get a fair shake. So with the judges in the spotlight, I expect an honest fight if it goes to the cards.”
And so it comes down to Marquez, the old Mexican counter puncher who has become Pacquiao’s kryptonite. The betting public, normally all-in on Pacquiao, has reversed course.
“I'd say the general public is on the underdog,” says Oddessa. “Wiseguys will look to lay the price on Manny late.”
If history is any indication, Pacquiao and Marquez will fight for 12 rounds, invariably leaving things in the judges’ hands.