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HBO Bringing The Fight Saturday Night

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By Stephen Douglas

This is the second major boxing pay-per-view of the year as boxing’s other King of the sport looks to defend the WBO world welterweight title. While many people are still (and always) looking forward to a possible meeting between Manny and Floyd Mayweather, Pacquaio has a tough opponent who is very familiar with him waiting in the ring on Saturday.

Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2) vs Juan Manuel Márquez (53-5-1)

This will be the third and possibly final fight between these two men. Pacquiao has won 14 straight fights and hasn’t lost since March 19, 2005. During that streak, he won a decision victory over Márquez, who he had also fought to a draw in May 2004. Unfortunately for Márquez, as the record implies, Manny has just gotten better since their previous meetings. In past bouts Márquez was fighting a great offensive fighter. Saturday he faces arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Pacquaio is a 9-1 favorite in most places.

Flattery will get Márquez nowhere according to Pacman.  “Marquez is the smartest guy I have fought recently,” Pacquiao said. “He is a genius. You know why? It is because he is trying to use my personality. He knows I am a nice person, so he thinks that if he is very nice and respectful to me before the fight then I will go easy on him and will not knock him out.
“It is very smart. But I am smarter than him because I know what he is trying to do.”

So Márquez will need to do more than be polite if he wants his 0-1-1 record against Pacquaio to improve. Pacquaio is a bigger, stronger fighter than he was six years ago.

Márquez’s only chance may be his toughness and the fact that Pacquiao has allowed opponents to stick around lately. His last three fights have gone the distance and before that he allowed Miguel Ángel Cotto to come with him into the 12th before putting him away. If an aggressive Pacquiao shows up, he could make a statement. Either way, it could be a long night for Márquez.

Timothy Bradley (27-0, 1nc) and Joel Casamayor 38-5-1) fight for the WBO Light Welterweight Title

Timothy Bradley is a possible future opponent of Pacquaio. It’s that possibility that made Bradley remove himself from a possible fight with Amir Kham because of the financial risk associated with fighting such a dangerous opponent for such a paltry purse ($1.3 million).

It’s said that this caused a falling out with promoter Gary Shaw. That fallout has led to a title fight on one of the two biggest pay-per-view fights of 2011. His opponent? Forty-year-old Joel Casamayor, who has dropped two of his previous four fights, including an 11th round TKO at the gloves of headliner, Márquez. Bradley takes most of his fights to decision, so Casamayor may be able to stick around, but he’ll likely get tuned up for his troubles.

Mike Alvarado (31-0) vs. Breidis Prescott (24-3)

The undefeated Alvarado won the IBF light welterweight title in July and has already fought three times in 2011. When Alvarez stops fighting so much, you’ll know he’s arrived. A spot on this card might gain him the exposure he needs to take a little more time off between fights. As for Prescott, he is coming off a razor thin decision loss in September.

Luis Cruz (19-0) vs. Juan Carlos Burgos (25-1)

A possible slugfest in the 130 pound division. 15 of Cruz’s 19 victories have come via knockout. Burgos has 19 KO’s of his own. Being this early on a boxing PPV isn’t a great way to get exposure, which is a shame, but these guys are both young and hungry enough that their fight should live up to the hype – I suggest tuning in early for this one.

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