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Juan Manuel Marquez confident he will pummel Manny Pacquiao

/ 09:11 AM November 10, 2011

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. RAFFY LERMA/RICHARD REYES

LAS VEGAS—Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez says he has the speed and power to defeat Manny Pacquiao in their Saturday showdown, but the Filipino icon expects a toe-to-toe slugfest that plays into his hands.

Pacquiao, 53-3 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, will defend his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown against Marquez, 53-5 with one drawn and 39 knockouts. The 32-year-old Asian southpaw is an 8-1 oddsmakers’ favorite.

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“It doesn’t bother me. I’ve come prepared,” Marquez said Wednesday. “I’m going to be able to hit him very hard and that’s going to win me the fight.”

Marquez, 38, was knocked down three times by Pacquiao in their first fight in 2004 but rallied to earn a draw. “PacMan” sent Marquez to the canvas again in a 2008 rematch and edged out a victory by one vote on one judges’ card.

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“I beat him the first two fights but did not get the decision,” Marquez said. “This time I will beat him again and I will also get the victory.

“I wish that the judges score what they see, not like the other two fights where they weren’t too impartial.”

Marquez has gained weight to challenge Pacquiao at 144 pounds, a fact the Filipino superstar says will make him slower and more vulnerable to Pacquaio’s punching speed and power.

“He’s getting bigger. He’s a big target,” Pacquiao said. “It’s not easy to put on more weight and maintain your speed. You get slower. It’s very difficult.

“Marquez, he will fight toe-to-toe. I can’t wait for this fight. I’m excited. I’m ready to fight. Everything is set.”

Marquez says he has gained muscle power without losing speed and quickness.

“We’re going to have speed in the fight,” Marquez said. “We worked to build our body the correct way. This time it’s going to be different. We’re going to combine intelligence with speed.”

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Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, sees Marquez’s confidence lasting only until “PacMan” pounds him to the canvas.

“The first time he hits him and knocks him on his ass, that will take it away,” Roach said.

“I don’t think he will be able to get up from this Manny Pacquiao punch.

“He has bulked up. He is going to be slower. Manny likes to exchange. That will fall into our hands well.”

Marquez’s strength and conditioning coach is Angel Heredia, who provided banned performance-enhancing substances to the former coach of doping-disgraced former athletics heroes Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery and others.

But Marquez denies his bigger bulk has come through banned substances and has said he will take any test at any time to prove he is not a dope cheat.

“I have done a clean preparation for this fight like always,” Marquez said. “I will take any test any time. That’s why anti-doping exams exist.”

Marquez said he is not placing greater importance on the start of the fight but hopes better strategy will lure Pacquiao into more mistakes than in their first two fights.

“I’m going to work round-by-round,” Marquez said. “The important thing is we fight intelligently. Sometimes the technique gets complicated for Mr. Pacquiao.”

The fight contract, which will see Pacquiao paid $30 million and Marquez take home a career-best $5 million, also includes a rematch clause in case a trilogy is not enough to show which fighter is better.

But Roach is confident the Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry ends on Saturday.

“You win by knockout,” he said, “and there’s no rematch.”

Pacquiao is confident he can prevail if Marquez decides to counterpunch or come out swinging, so even though Roach says he expects a knockout, Pacquiao is prepared to go the distance.

“I’m not thinking about the knockout,” Pacquiao said. “I’m in 100 percent condition. If the knockout comes, it’s the bonus for the good training. I believe I can win the fight even if I don’t knock him out.”

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