Pacquiao and Marquez battle out the last part of a great boxing trilogy

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Just when the final chapter of a great boxing trilogy will be played out this Saturday, boxing legend Joe Frazier leaves the world in the same week.

Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines will be settling unfinished business with intense rival Juan Manual Marquez of Mexico, in a third match set in Las Vegas this Saturday.

The pair had met in two previous fights, neither of which had given either man a satisfaction to see who the better fighter was.

After a recent set of 15 sparring rounds at a gym in Hollywood, Pacquiao commented that there were personal feelings invested in this fight.

He claimed that he was not angry nor hateful of Marquez, but admitted that the emotions he felt were giving him more inspiration to train as well as to fight as hard as possible.

“I’m expecting him to be at his strongest,” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao, 32, at 53-3-2 and 38 knockouts, has become the top fighter for boxing, pound-for-pound, with 14 straight victories in his belt. These included knockouts of Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales, Miguel Cotto, and Oscar de la Hoya.

On the other side of the ring, Marquez, 38, at 53-5-1 and 39 knockouts, remains the counterpuncher. Although Pacquiao had knocked Marquez down thrice in their 2004 fight, all in the first round, Marquez had won almost every round after that, resulting in a draw being called for that first bout.

Their 2008 bout had Pacquiao knocking Marquez down again, although the latter was left in a very bloody state over the 12-round match. The game ended with a split decision favoring Pacquiao, with only one point over Marquez on the scorecard of the deciding judge.

Marquez described the previous bouts with Pacquiao as “wars,” knowing that the audience will never be short-changed watching them fight.

Marquez said that in his case, he wanted to win in a more convincing way compared to how he believed he had actually won those first two times. He did not want anyone saying again that it was a close fight.

“I want to be the clear winner,” he said.

Many boxing fanatics can remember the same drama of a trilogy between Frazier and Muhammad Ali in 1971, 1974, and 1975. The first fight at Madison Square Garden was known as “The Fight of the Century.”

Bob Arum, promoter of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight, had also been a co-promoter of the third instalment of the Ali-Frazier battle, described this fight as going for “ultimate vindication.”

He noted that it was personal and an all-out match beyond the World Series.

He described the tension just before the third Ali-Frazier match as “the end of the world,” and the fight that the two players gave as “a fight for the ages” and the greatest fight he had ever seen.

Larry Merchant, boxing analyst for HBO, said that fighters in trilogies often face the issue of wondering whether the money will be enough compensation for the possibility of having one’s career diminished by the fight.

Arum described his experience at the Ali-Frazier trilogy as the most unreal emotion he had ever felt, describing the match as the most incredible fight to the death.

“It’s stayed with me my entire life,” he said.

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