Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez trained in separate camps.
The grim rivals adopted different philosophies and perfected strictly contrasting styles. But they came to Las Vegas yesterday for their fourth duel as though they had been handled and honed by one and the same trainer.
Both appeared equally sharp and good, ready to rumble.
The dueling duo bragged about perfect, trouble-free camps.
They each vowed to go for a compelling knockout win.
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If there should be a difference, it could be in the separate paths they have taken trying to hit peak form.
Marquez moved onward.
Pacquiao headed backward.
But this alone cannot provide the decisive difference once they enter the ring at Las Vegas MGM Grand this weekend.
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Marquez did move ahead, unmindful of the years, and added more muscles to his bulk.
Pacquiao worked extra hard to recapture his old stormy form.
He also opted to slim down a little.
Marquez vowed to be extra aggressive.
Pacquiao warned fans to watch out for his “most complete display of boxing in a bout.”
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They’re clearly adopting the same old theme.
But something truly new could come in the plots they’ve vowed to play out.
Listen, please. It’s indeed true that, unlike Marquez, Pacquiao would be going after more than just one foe.
These foes should include Father Time and the gnawing perception he’s hit a career tail end, to name only two.
That alone is a big minus factor, going by how the Pacman has vowed total focus.
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But then, unlike Marquez, Pacquiao can only be expected to show up with more than just one main weapon.
Add to this amazing arsenal a secret Roach has bragged before they left for Las Vegas.
Like how Pacquiao has agreed to now follow his trainer’s on-fight instructions to the letter.
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Not to say the last training also ended up a reformatory camp for Pacquiao.
In fact, Pacquiao had rewarded Freddie Roach with at least four knockdowns during their last series of sparring at Wild Card.
But Marquez should be the least worried of a brand-new Pacquiao.
Why? Roach has promised nothing more than a plodding pedestrian, the original Pacific Storm that had wrecked a slew of Mexican greats.
That old feared warrior, raging fierce and wild again, could only be expected to bring a smile to Nacho Beristain’s lips.
He should be no better than the predictable counter-target who never failed to crouch blindly in groping for a solid shot.
Truth to tell, what Beristain would hate to see is a Pacquiao boxing tall, spearing shots from atop, throwing bombs from the safety of a lighthouse.
They have a name for this weapon perfected by Muhammad Ali in setting up for a kill.
Maybe this was the golden weapon secretly called inaccessible aggression.
Or has Freddie Roach heard about it?