LAS VEGAS -- A couple things we need to clear up before Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez step into the ring for the third time on Saturday night:
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There's an automatic rematch clause in the Marquez-Pacquiao contract that mandates that Marquez fight Pacquiao again. He'll make a minimum of $10 million for that fight, so I don't think he would mind one bit. After that, who knows? I asked Juan about his future this week and he said he wasn't even thinking about it. He could go back down to lightweight or junior welterweight, where he would be in demand to fight someone like Brandon Rios or Marcos Maidana. I honestly don't think Marquez has thought about it.
I'm going to say no, only because Marquez has been fighting for 18 years and there has not been the slightest whiff of performance-enhancing drug use around him. While I find it odd that he would choose a conditioning coach with such a sordid past, I don't think we can just assume that Marquez is using anything but legal supplements. Besides, it's boxing. Victor Conte has carved out a niche for himself as a conditioning coach. I'll add one thing though: I got multiple calls from people in the industry who said they were shocked at how good Marquez looked. The insinuation from them being that he must have been taking something. I don't agree, but it's something others brought up.
I got here on Tuesday, Jim, and it was pretty quiet. But since Thursday it has really picked up. They are expecting a sellout crowd of 16,000-plus, there is a strong Filipino presence (Pacquiao told me more than 60 Congressmen were planning on attending) and the media coverage has been overwhelming. One thing that did surprise me was that Marquez might have an even stronger fan base here than Pacquiao. At Friday's weigh-in Pacquiao was met with a bigger mix of boos and cheers than I have ever heard before.
I'm picking Pacquiao, Mike, but I'm one of the few writers out here who think it is going to be close. I refuse to underestimate Marquez and I won't paint his prospects at welterweight with a negative brush based on
As for Mayweather, all I can say is I'm optimistic. I have been assured by people involved with Mayweather that he is very serious about fighting Pacquiao in May. And we all know Pacquiao wants the fight. If these warring parties can just find a way to sit down in the same room with each other (figuratively speaking) and have an open discourse, they will be able to settle their issues pretty quickly. I think they know everyone is tired of seeing them kick the crap out of lesser opponents. As Roach says often, there really is no one left for them to fight.