LOS ANGELES- It could be a plan that could easily backfire against him.
Filipino champ Manny Pacquiao believes the only way to decisively defeat arch-nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth fight is by being more aggressive and attacking the Mexican from different angles.
“I’m going to create a lot of action in the ring,” Pacquiao said during media day at the Wildcard Boxing Club on Wednesday. “I’m focused on [being] more aggressive and creating action. If I wait for him to throw a punch, the fight is going to be boring. There won’t be any action.”
Though it’ll be crowd-pleasing, it’s a daring strategy, especially given the fact that Marquez’s strength is counter punching. Marquez wants Pacquiao to be assertive so he could implement his game plan.
The 33-year-old Pacquiao said he plans to channel his exuberant, youthful self — the one that used to zigzag across the ring, bounce side-to-side before landing a knockout punch against his opponent.
That strategy worked in 2004, when the frenetic Pacquiao managed to knockdown Marquez three times in the first round but also left him vulnerable in the following rounds. Marquez rebounded to earn a draw. The two met again in 2008 with Pacquiao knocking Marquez down seen as the difference to a close split decision victory.
But things have changed over time. That energetic and unpredictable Pacquiao is years removed. Pacquiao’s last three bouts – a loss against Bradley, a majority decision against Marquez, and win against aging Sugar Shane Mosley – have been lackluster, to say the least.
Some boxing pundits have suggested the Filipino lost a step inside the ring but Pacquiao feels differently.
“I’m still young,” he said.
Trainer Freddie Roach said they’ve gone back to square preparing for this fight. After three championship bouts, and 36 close rounds, Roach believes he now has the perfect game plan for Pacquiao to defeat Marquez.
“I know the answer but I’m not saying it,” said Roach slyly.
“It’s been going great. It’s Manny being Manny. I just want him to be himself,” Roach said. “I’m not worried about his footwork. I want him to focus on being more aggressive and fight every single round.”
The ultimate question is whether Pacquiao can implement that “new” game plan once he steps into that ring. The two fighters know each other so well that once either one lands a punch, they’ll revert to their old styles.
Roach doesn’t mind going back to the old style, as long as it’s the Pacquiao from the first two Marquez fights — not the last one.
“If you go back to the last three fights [against Marquez], Manny has had the most success is when he’s aggressive and using his speed with in-and-out motion and countering [Marquez’s] counter punches,” said Roach.
Because their three fights have been so close, Roach again reiterated that he believes Pacquiao does need a knockdown or a knockout to win this fourth bout with Marquez.
The judges may be sympathetic towards Marquez because of his close battles with the Filipino, said Roach.
Though Pacquiao didn’t say it this time around, he alluded to reporters that he wants to win this fight against Marquez decisively so he can finally put to rest, questions about their previous three fights.
The strategy of being aggressive may help or hurt Pacquiao against a world-class counterpuncher but one thing is clear: with high risk comes great rewards.