The fistic debate as to who is the best will finally be settled Saturday, March 15 when World Boxing Council (WBC) super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez defends his title against three-division world champion Manny Pacquiao. The bout is a rematch of their May 8, 2004 legendary battle which ended in a draw. Marquez - Pacquiao II Unfinished Business will be for the WBC and vacant Ring Magazine Super Featherweight World Championship. The world title bout will take place at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, and will be produced and distributed live on HBO Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Boasting near identical records and professional achievements, it is no surprise that their first encounter for the featherweight title ended in a majority draw. Marquez, then the defending International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight champion, was forced to dig deep after Pacquiao sent him to the canvas three times in the first round. After surviving the first round, Marquez showed determination and endurance as he fired back at his challenger landing numerous combinations and counter punches, stunning Pacquiao during the middle of the fight. The battle continued as both fighters redirected their game plans changing the momentum of the fight with non-stop, exciting, and furious back and forth exchanges throughout the night, keeping the cheering fight fans on their feet. The fight went to the judges' score cards and the bloodied and swollen warriors were stunned as the announcement of the majority draw was announced. The fight was nominated for "Fight of the Year" by the 2004 Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).
"There isn't another fight I have wanted as much as this one," said Marquez, WBC World Super Featherweight Champion. "I won our first fight. He won the first round and I won the next 11. He's avoided me for four years, saying he is the "Mexican Executioner" but he isn't because he hasn't beaten me and he won't beat me. I'm going to finish the job I started in 2004 and show everyone why I am a champion today."
Pacquiao responded saying, "I have a lot of respect for Juan Manuel Marquez and his professional accomplishments. He was a worthy opponent the first time we fought and he showed a true champion's heart to come back and stay in the fight after I knocked him down three times in the first round. He should also remember that it was a judge's scoring error in the first round that allowed him to keep his titles that night. This is a big fight that will require my hardest training."
Oscar de la Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions agreed, "Marquez vs. Pacquiao II is the fight that fight fans have been waiting for and we are extremely excited it is finally here. Their first fight was very exciting but ended in a controversial draw. Juan Manuel is prepared for his chance to set the story straight not only for himself, but also for all of his fans, especially those from Mexico."
Fellow promoter Bob Arum, of Top Rank, stated, "There is something very special and unique about Manny Pacquiao. He really is the pride of the Philippines, a very exciting and charismatic athlete. However, Manny is going into the fight of his career, taking on champion Juan Manuel Marquez who is driven by the fact he fighting for the entire country of Mexico."
Marquez (48-3-1, 35 KOs), from Mexico City, Mexico, captured his first world title in 2003, stopping former world champion Manuel Medina in the seventh round to capture the vacant IBF featherweight title. He unified the title by dethroning WBA champion Derrick Gainer to set the stage for his first mega-fight against Pacquiao. Following his majority draw against Pacquiao, Marquez successfully defended both title belts, winning decisions over Victor Polo and Orlando Salido, before traveling to Indonesia to face Chris John, where he lost a controversial decision. Marquez successfully advanced into the super featherweight division last year by dethroning WBC champion Barrera in March and successfully defending that title in November against Ricardo Rocky Juarez.
Dubbed "Republica Enemy No. 1," Pacquiao (45-3-2, 34 KOs), from General Santos City, Philippines, has blitzed through the best fighters Mexico has had to offer since 2003 including Erik Morales (KO 3, TKO 10), Barrera (TKO 11, W 12), Oscar Larios (W 12), Emanuel Lucero (TKO 3), Hector Velazquez (TKO 6) and Jorge Solis (KO 8). The only "blemish" on this impressive resume was the draw against Marquez. Pacquiao, was named 2006 Fighter of the Year by the BWAA and The Ring Magaine for his two spectacular knockout victories of Mexican icon and three-division champion Morales, as well as his dominating 12-round unanimous decision over former world champion Larios. The hard-hitting southpaw has won 21 of his last 22 bouts including 2007 victories over Barrera and Solis.