LAS VEGAS—When a guy like Sugar Ray Leonard vouches for a fight, then it must be really good.
“It’s going to be an incredible fight,” said Leonard, referring to the fourth battle between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
The 56-year-old Leonard, who earned the tag “Sugar” because he fights as sweet as the late great Sugar Ray Robinson, should know.
Named Fighter of the Decade in the 1980s, he’s a five-division world champion, Olympic gold medalist, and a boxing’s Hall of Famer.
Leonard strolled into the press center at MGM Grand and acceded to a brief interview.
“The first three fights lived up to expectations,” said Leonard, who thinks the fourth should be in the same mold or even better.
“These guys are determined to become the clear winner,” said Leonard, the first boxer to earn $100 million, referring to the closeness of the first three fights that ended up in a draw, split decision and majority decision for Pacquiao. “They really know each other.”
Asked for his prediction, Leonard said he would rather not give any.
“I am not picking any,” said Leonard, who boasts victories over fellow legends Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler and is best remembered for making Robero Duran quit in the middle of a savage fight.
“I consider both boxers clever so I don’t put my money [on any of them].
Marquez in isolation
Marquez’s camp has decided to keep the Mexican legend in a secret room, away from the probing eyes of the media.
Trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain said he won’t allow Marquez to get out of his room unless it’s absolutely necessary, like Friday’s (Saturday in Manila) weigh-in at MGM Grand Arena.
After the weigh-in—where Marquez expects to check in at between 142 and 143 pounds—he would return to his hole. The room is where he would do some light exercises and movements required by strength and conditioning expert Angel Hernandez.
Since arriving here by private plane from Los Angeles on Monday, Marquez has curiously altered his training regimen, spending more time at the tracks than in the gym.
On Thursday, Marquez again hit the University of Nevada-Los Angeles oval.
Beristain is known to keep his boxers in isolation during fight week while requiring them to do light training. The strategem has proven effective: The trainer has produced 25 world champions in nearly 50 years.
The entry of Hernandez in the Marquez camp has altered the isolation process a bit, according to Top Rank publicist Ricardo Jimenez.
Marquez doesn’t need to lose weight for this fight, and Jimenez said the Mexican counterpuncher weighed “just between 141 and 142” Thursday morning.