If the three previous installments have proven anything, it's that Pacquiao and Marquez cancel out one another's strengths.
Pacquiao has shown impressive technical improvement under trainer Freddie Roach. Where his right hand was once a mere throat clearing for the punishing left, Pacquiao is now essentially an ambidextrous fighter, a versatile boxer-puncher. Yet at 33, he's shown signs of decline over his past three fights with Mosley, Marquez and Bradley, no longer fighting pell-mell for three minutes of every round. Hall of Fame trainer Nacho Beristain, Marquez's cornerman, says Pacquiao's development into a schooled boxer plays to their advantage -- he's no longer as wildly unpredictable as he once was.
Marquez, 39, is a skilled veteran with a world-class chin and recuperative powers -- he's never been stopped in 61 pro fights -- whose exquisite technique and textbook jabs, hooks and combinations make him a true fight fan's fighter. And if the first two fights proved anything, it's that Marquez's well-timed counterpunching is a nightmarish style matchup for Pacquiao. Watch as the Mexican systematically drifts backward and to the left, neutralizing Pacquiao's TNT-packed left hand and feint attacks. He knows exactly how to defend against Pacquiao -- where to take risks, when to dial it back -- yet thus far it's yet to pay off with a victory. In the bloody ballet between aggressor and counterpuncher, the judges have tended to favor Pacquiao's come-forward style.
Roach, a Hall of Famer and five-time Trainer of the Year, is one of the game's best corner men whose teaming with Pacquiao is becoming one of boxing's historic fighter-trainer partnerships. Marquez is a longtime student of Beristain, a recent inductee to Canastota. Advantage to Pacquiao, but only by the slimmest of margins.