NEW YORK -- Late Wednesday morning, I walked into the Edison Ballroom -- site of the kickoff press conference for Manny Pacquiao's fourth matchup with Juan Manuel Marquez -- without any strong feelings on the fight.
I left without any, too.
On one hand, I get why this rivalry is being extended. The first three fights were entertaining with decisions closer than a 100-meter dash; flip a few rounds here or there and Marquez is 3-0 instead of 0-2-1. Styles make fights, the old boxing adage goes, and these two are stylistically perfect for each other. Pacquiao is an aggressive volume puncher and Marquez is a brilliant counterpuncher who eats fighters like Pacquiao for breakfast. It sells tickets, brings in a passionate crowd and, most importantly, is a monster on pay-per-view: In 2008, Pacquiao-Marquez II generated 405,000 buys. In 2012, it was 1.25 million.
It's not like there was a deep pool of high-profile options out there for Pacquiao, either. A rematch with Miguel Cotto was Pacquiao's first choice but Cotto opted for Austin Trout, setting up a lucrative showdown with Saul Alvarez next year. Tim Bradley was out there but as much as Pacquiao would probably like to avenge last June's controversial loss, a second fight with the uber-dull Bradley doesn't move the needle.
On the other hand, it was difficult to listen to the fighter's rhetoric and put any real stock in it. I will be more aggressive, Pacquiao vowed. This one will end in a knockout, Marquez declared. Really? Over 36 rounds, neither fighter was able to separate himself. Why will the next 12 be any different? The only honest moment on Wednesday came when Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, stood at the podium and acknowledged that he has yet to concoct a game plan to beat Marquez ... and he still doesn't have one either.
There will never be a conclusive ending to a Pacquiao-Marquez fight, so why bother? There are some new, exciting, albeit unaccomplished, fighters out there. Anyone want to see Pacquiao-Lucas Matthysse? The Argentinean brawler just demolished out Olusegun Ajose and is considered the most feared fighter at 140 pounds. How about Pacquiao-Andre Berto? Berto's reputation is tarnished after he tested positive for a banned substance in May but he is a heavy-handed former welterweight title holder with a crowd (and network) pleasing style.
Promoter issues? Come on. You think Golden Boy would stand in the way of Matthysse, who for most fights makes a few hundred thousand, making a few million? Think Al Haymon would keep Berto out of a fight that could line his pockets and make his career? It doesn't work like that.
Alas, we likely won't ever get those fights. On Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand, we get Pacquiao-Marquez IV. Maybe in May we will get Pacquiao-Marquez V. And, perhaps, next September they will complete the
Round after round they go, Pacquiao and Marquez, with no end in sight. Because if people keep buying tickets and pay-per-view sales continue to soar there is little incentive for them to stop. If you're a fan of good action, you're thrilled. If you like a definitive outcome, well, maybe a little less.