Every fighter, even the icons, have a foil, an opponent whose style and skills give them fits every time they step into the ring together.
The old adage says: styles make fights, and that concept is never more apparent than when we analyze the series of fights between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Marquez's counter-punching nature matches up well with Pacquiao's aggressive approach. While a more elusive boxer may give Pacquiao even more trouble, the chin and well-timed counters from Marquez not only challenge Pac Man, but their boxing equation makes for very exciting fights.
Marquez gives Pacquiao the fight he wants, but he's the only man we've seen capable of staying competitive fighting Pacquiao's fight.
We've seen other fighters create and re-create this type of competitive dynamic: Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera fought three times, and neither man won by a wide margin in any of their fights.
There are some that believe that Muhammad Ali never really beat Ken Norton.
Perhaps that is the closest reference to Pacquiao-Marquez. Like Marquez, Norton was known as a very good fighter, but obviously not on the same level as Ali. Yet for some reason, Norton's style befuddled Ali in two fights.
He broke Ali's jaw in their first fight and won a split-decision; then six months later, he lost a very controversial split-decision in their rematch. Norton certainly is to Ali, what Marquez has become to Pacquiao.
The only differences are the number of fights, and that Marquez has yet to earn a win in any of the bouts—though many think he could have been awarded at least two of the three fights in the series.
As Pacquiao's in-ring pace slows down, his age goes up and his outside interests tug at him harder; it becomes even less likely that he'll ever score that convincing win over his rival.
In fact, this fourth fight could be Marquez's best chance to finally capture the signature win of his career. I'm not ready to go that for yet.
I still believe Pacquiao will pull out another close decision over Marquez, but in the end, it will equate to just another hard-fought, highly disputed decision win over a man he just can't completely solve.
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