LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Juan Manuel Marquez’s sole motivation for Saturday’s non-title welterweight clash with arch-rival Manny Pacquiao is the prospect of finally being able to celebrate victory over the Filipino in the ring, the Mexican said on Wednesday.
“I want them (his corner) to raise my hand (in triumph),” Marquez told reporters at the MGM Grand after the two fighters appeared for their final pre-bout news conference.
Marquez has fought Pacquiao three times, most recently 13 months ago in the same MGM Grand ring where they will meet on Saturday, but on none of those occasions has he been declared the winner.
Officially, the tally stands at two Pacquiao wins and one draw, though many fans and boxing writers believe Marquez could legitimately have won all three encounters.
”People tell me, ‘You really beat him’, in the last three fights,“ said Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs), a three-division world champion. ”A lot of people feel I beat him.
“But I want to have my hand raised. I want the judges to really look at what they’re doing and get it right this time.”
When the fighters last met, Pacquiao narrowly retained his WBO welterweight title with a controversial majority decision and boos from disgruntled Marquez fans echoed around the arena after the shock decision was announced.
For his part, Pacquiao appears to be growing increasingly frustrated by the Mexican’s insistence that he was the deserved winner of their previous three contests, particularly because of the counter-punching style favored by Marquez.
”He always claims he won the fights,“ said Pacquiao (54-4, 38 KOs) who has won world titles in eight weight divisions. ”So he needs to prove something.
“You cannot say, ‘Yes I won the fight’ when you are always backing off. It’s contradictory. If you’re claiming you won the fight, then you have to press the action.”
The four-fight rivalry between the two boxers almost failed to last one round. Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the opening round of their first encounter in 2004, but the Mexican rallied to outbox his opponent and eke out a draw.
In their second meeting four years later, Pacquiao knocked down Marquez in the third round, which proved the difference after he won a close split decision.
Their third bout was adjudged a majority decision victory for the Filipino southpaw, despite Pacquiao’s surprisingly unimpressive display.
”I thought Manny won that fight,“ Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said on Wednesday. ”But the booing was very loud and very vocal.
“Someone said, ‘Why aren’t you smiling? You won the fight’. And I said, ‘It’s very hard to smile when you’re being booed that bad’.”
Pacquiao acknowledged that his series of fights with Marquez had been the defining rivalry of his career.
“When you say ‘Muhammad Ali’, you think ‘Joe Frazier’,” the Filipino said. “And I think when you say ‘Manny Pacquiao’, you think ‘Juan Manuel Marquez’. And when you say ‘Marquez’, you think ‘Manny Pacquiao’.”
But neither man is expecting a fifth fight, whatever happens in the ring on Saturday. The fourth bout, they insist, will be the last.
“This is the last fight with Manny,” said Marquez. “I don’t know what will happen in the ring, but this is the last time.”
Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Greg Stutchbury