Feature Story

Manny on life after Marquez

Story by Andreas Hale
Photo by Chris Cozzone 

No matter what happens on Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao doesn’t want to see Juan Manuel Marquez inside of the squared circle ever again. This is the fourth time that Manny Pacquiao has come to Vegas and set his eyes on Marquez. Two times he has left victorious, one time he earned a draw. None of those fights have had a clear victor and Pacquiao looks to silence the critics when they meet on December 8th. But, win or lose, Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach insist that there will not be a Pacquiao-Marquez V or VI or VII or whatever Roman numeral that we have yet to see attached to a fight. In their eyes, after four fights and eight years, it’s time to move on.

“I think this is the last time I will ever fight him again,” Pacquiao said after his arrival at the MGM Grand on Tuesday. As always, a mob of fans greeted him upon his arrival. He’s used to this scene and he’ll be ready for the legion of Mexican fans who will urge Marquez to finally topple the great Pacquiao. While Pacquiao always sounds like he leaves the door slightly cracked for another fight, Roach was a bit more definitive.

“This is the last time,” Roach responded flatly. “We’re going to knock him out and end the story.”

The usual questions about their 4th encounter were asked as journalists huddled around the Filipino and his trainer inside a private VIP room. But there was one question that had not been asked for exactly twenty-two minutes.

“When will you fight Mayweather?”

Since 2008, when Pacquiao began rampaging through divisions and demolishing foes, the question about a dream bout with Floyd Mayweather has always invaded the conversation. It didn’t matter who Pacquiao was fighting: Margarito, Cotto, Clottey, Mosley, Bradley or Marquez. Journalists spent more time pondering the fight that will seemingly never happen rather than the fight in front of them. Has the allure of that fight washed upon the shore where dreams go to die? Perhaps. But Pacquiao insists that he still wants that fight.

“I’ve already announced that I want the fight and now I’m waiting for the answer,” Pacquiao said while almost welcoming the question that usually is so exhaustive. “The fans are waiting for that fight. That’s why I said I’ll give him 55%, whatever he wants. Whatever rules and regulations, no problem.”

There’s definitely a problem. It’s just that nobody knows exactly what it is. How can two fighters that stand to make enough money to buy a small country not fight? Who knows? But Pacquiao is putting his foot down and hasn’t threatened to retire. Instead, if Mayweather continues to opt out of the fight, Pacquiao will just seek other opponents to beat up on.

“Regardless of what happens I’m already satisfied,” Pacquiao says. “I’ve done a lot of boxing and I want to maintain the excitement in fights for the people.”

Knowing that getting past Marquez is certainly not a guarantee, Pacquiao isn’t treading lightly on the upcoming fight. But he is entertaining possible opponents for his next fight. One of the names that recently cropped up is the heavy hitting Brandon Rios. Another is a rematch with the man that holds a dubious victory over him, Timothy Bradley. Considering the wretched decision that went to Bradley last June, Pacquiao is open to avenging his loss. He’s just not going to trip over himself to get the fight. Some will say that if Bradley didn’t injure his feet, the fight could have been even more competitive. To that, Pacquiao looked up and a wide smile stretched across his face.

“He injured his feet because he was running,” Pacquiao said as the room burst into laughter. “If he didn’t run he would have never injured his feet.”

Certainly, Pacquiao doesn’t feel in the least bit threatened when having to consider a second Bradley fight. But while Pacquiao doesn’t care who he fights, Roach doesn’t seem too enthralled with a Bradley rematch. As a matter of fact, there’s one small hurdle that Bradley will need to jump over before he thinks he should be offered the rematch. It’s a hurdle that not even Pacquiao has gotten over yet.

“(Bradley) will have to win a big fight before he fights Manny,” Roach says before taking a pregnant pause. “He’ll have to beat Floyd Mayweather.”

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