It's not often you get three consecutive razor-close fights out of the same pair of fighters, but Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez just can't outright beat one another.
With a draw (watch it in full here), split decision (watch it in full here) and majority decision (watch it in full here) between them, the two will look to finally put their eight-year deadlock to bed later this evening (Dec. 8, 2012) inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
MMAmania will have LIVE coverage of the event, starting with the HBO pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast at 9 p.m. ET. In addition to the titular showdown, Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa will face Michael Farenas, while Miguel Vazquez and Javier Fortuna face Mercito Gesta and Patrick Hyland, respectively.
Will one of these two boxing legends finally put a stamp on things? If so, who? Let's take a deep gaze into our crystal ball and determine who will come out on top in "Sin City" later tonight.
Here we go:
Last Five Fights: L Timothy Bradley (SD), W Juan Manuel Marquez (MD), W Shane Mosley (UD), W Antonio Margarito (UD), W Joshua Clottey (UD)
Since dropping a unanimous decision to Erik Morales in 2005, Pacquiao had been on the warpath, wiping out Morales in two rematches, defeating Jorge Solis and Marco Antonio Barrera, and scraping past Marquez at super featherweight. Moving up, he stopped at lightweight just long enough to knockout David Diaz for the title before moving up to welterweight to destroy Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, among others. Unfortunately, his amazing streak came to an end this past November in controversial fashion in the form of a split-decision loss to Bradley.
Juan Manuel Marquez
Last Five Fights: W Serhiy Fedchenko (UD), L Manny Pacquiao (MD), W Likar Ramos (KO), W Michael Katsidis (TKO), W Juan Diaz (UD)
One of Mexico's finest fighters, Marquez's only losses since 1999 have come at the hands of Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and unbeaten featherweight champion Chris John. With his unique combination of grit and top-tier technique, Marquez overcame age and size to -- in the minds of many -- finally Pacquiao in 2011; however, the judges disagreed. Marquez has won legitimate titles at featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight in his illustrious 19-year career.
I am an enormous Marquez fan because to me, he is everything a boxer should be -- incredibly skilled and Mexican to the core.
Unfortunately, while we'll get a definitive end to this series, it won't be in his favor.
In my opinion, Marquez fought the best fight he possibly could have the last time out. He blunted Pacquiao's offense, countered to perfection. He really should have gotten the decision and, in my opinion, has the best chance of getting a decision if he does the same thing again.
The problem is that he's not satisfied with going to the judges anymore. He's bulked up. He's going for the knockout. And it's going to cost him.
The best shot of the entire trilogy so far was a Pacquiao counter left in the second fight. When the two start free-swinging, the Filipino firebrand tends to come out on top. Marquez may have some success, but if he takes the fight to Pacquiao with the pure intention of getting the knockout, he's going to get countered.
Plus, the increased size may further widen the speed gap between the two.
I don't think Pacquiao is the best pound-for-pound fighter anymore. I don't think he'll ever be the best pound-for-pound fighter again. But, if Juan Manuel Marquez doesn't come out like Juan Manuel Marquez, he's not going to be able to take advantage of it. Expect Marquez to push his luck just a hair too far in the later going, kicking off a series of Pacquiao bombs that puts a halt to proceedings.
Prediction: Pacquiao via technical knockout in round eight
See you later, fight fans.