by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — World Boxing Council Champion Juan Manuel Marquez is confident that his training will allow him to defeat Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao.
“I don’t know how it’s going to end,” said Marquez through a translator during a media conference call last March 4. “Mentally and physically, I’m ready for this fight. I think I’m going to beat him.”
Marquez and Pacquiao are set for a rematch at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on March 15. The two boxers last met four years ago. After being knocked down three times in the first round, Marquez collected himself, and counter-punched his way to a draw.
There was no rematch after the first fight due to promo-tional gaffes. After winning two fights after his bout with Pacquiao, he took a risk and lost to Indonesian boxing Champion Chris John. Mar-quez went on to win his next four fights.
Pacquiao on the other hand continued to rise in popularity. He’s been dubbed the “Mexican Assasin” after defeating a slew of Mexican boxers including Erik Morales twice, Jorge Solis, Oscar Larios, Hector Velasquez, and most recently, Marco Antonio Barrera.
Now, four years later, Marquez is now touted as the “last Mexican standing” to Pacquiao.
Marquez admits he took Pacquiao lightly the first time around, something that he will not do come the second match.
“I was pretty confident [in the first fight]. My punches were connecting well against Pacquiao in the first half of round one,” he said. “I thought it was going to be an easy fight.”
However, Pacquiao hit Marquez with a devastating left cross that knocked him down.
“I got up because I have a lot of heart and conditioning. Losing the first fight never crossed my mind,” he said. “I was defending two championship belts. It cost me a lot of effort and sacrifice to win those belts. I wasn’t about to let it go in three minutes.”
Marquez’s trainer Ignacio Bernstein recalls what he told his fighter after the first round. “Stick with the game plan,” recalled Bernstein through an interpreter. “I was angry at [Marquez]. He was fighting so loose like Pacquiao was an easy fighter. This was not supposed to be the way he should be fighting. I knew Manny. He’s like a wildcat. He attacks and throws a lot of different punches.”
Marquez recalls that he learned a lot from the first fight especially after the knockdowns.
“You need to be in the fight 100 percent,” he said. “You can’t take everything for granted.”
Marquez said that after he collected himself, he felt like he won all the rounds.
Judges declared it a draw.
Marquez began his training in Mexico in mid-December. For the past several months, he has been working on ways to combat Pacquiao’s aggressive nature. He even brought in three southpaws to spar with, a luxury he didn’t have preparing for the first fight with Pacquiao.
“We’re really worried about Manny’s left hand,” said Bernstein. “His left hand is like a bullet it’s strong and fast.”
“Manny’s also developed a left and right hook so he’s definitely a better fighter than before,” he added.
Marquez is not worried. He said that he’s also a different fighter from the last time they met.
“From the first fight to this fight, I’m a better fighter,” said Marquez. “I’m more experienced. I’m conditioned, stronger and have more speed. This is going to be a completely different fight than the first one.”
“People are going to see a great fight,” he added. “I’m putting everything in it.”