Can Juan Manuel Marquez finally beat Manny Pacquiao (or at least convince the judges he did)? Will the fourth time be the charm?
I don't know the answer to that question, but I have identified three major advantages I feel Marquez has heading into this fight. From plenty of experience facing Pacquiao to no shortage of motivation heading into this fight—oh, and he's jacked, too—these three reasons could push Marquez to his first win in this series.
Then again, maybe it will be a draw, and we'll have to watch them fight a fifth time. Oh, the horror.
Marquez knows what Pacquiao is going to do. He knows his rhythm, angles and style. He knows to expect an even more aggressive Pac-Man this time around. He knows his counter-punching will only be so effective, and to win he'll need to turn up the aggression himself.
After fighting three times, you would think Marquez knew Pacquiao in and out. You would be thinking correctly. There won't be many surprises in this fight.
There will be adjustments and tweaks from both camps, of course, but once this fight settles in, both Pacquiao and Marquez will settle into tried-and-true methods. That favors Marquez.
Marquez has added serious bulk to his frame, so much so that folks out there (including Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole) have suggested he may have used steroids to get there:
Now, Marquez's physique has undergone a transformation every bit as dramatic as the one baseball star Barry Bonds did in the second half of his legendary career. He has big, bulging biceps, thick shoulders and a wide, broad chest. He accomplished this after he turned 38 and only after he hired Angel Guillermo "Memo" Heredia as his strength and conditioning coach.
Marquez vehemently denies the use of any performance-enhancing drugs, which puts him in an awkward situation. If he dominates or knocks out Pacquiao, he likely won't receive the acclaim and the respect he seeks because so many would believe it to be a tainted victory.
Whether the steroids allegations are true or not, Marquez is going to come into this fight stronger than he's ever been in his career. His counter-punches will carry more weight, and he'll be looking to put Pacquiao on the mat if the opportunity presents itself.
In the three fights, Marquez has drawn and lost two decisions to Pac-Man. He felt he won each one. So if you think Marquez is taking the chance for retribution lightly, think again.
His endurance will be at an all-time high, much like his strength. He'll be focused and on a mission. He'll turn over every stone trying to crack through Pacquiao's defense. From sheer desire alone, he holds an edge.
It's not a huge edge, however. Pacquiao knows a loss will cost him major money down the road, especially in any negotiations with Floyd Mayweather.
But nothing compares to the motivation that comes with vindication. Pacquiao is going to be aggressive, but Marquez will be hungry. Whether that's enough to earn him the win remains to be seen.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are sticking with Pac-Man. The game, not the boxer.