There has certainly been a lot of news in the boxing world this week, from the passing of legendary fighter Joe Frazier to a bout that will feature one of boxing’s biggest names on Saturday.
On Nov. 12, WBO welterweight champion and ESPN.com’s No.1 pound-for-pound boxer Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs), will look to defend his title when he meets WBO lightweight world champion and ESPN Deportes’ Golpe a Golpe analyst Juan Manuel Márquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs), in the 12-round main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
This will be the third time that the two will step into the ring against one another.
Pacquiao won a split-decision in their last fight back in 2008, while the two fought to a controversial draw previously in 2004.
ESPN and ESPN Deportes will have extensive pre and post-fight coverage from Las Vegas. ESPN Deportes analysts Jaime Motta, Bernardo Osuna and ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael will be covering the fight. I sat down with Osuna as he discussed how he prepares for ESPN’s coverage.
“My preparation begins weeks before the event,” said Osuna.
“By the time I get to Las Vegas, I have already visited Manny Pacquiao at the Wildcard Gym in Hollywood and spoken with the ‘Pac Man’ as well as his trainer Freddie Roach about the fight.
“I have also met with Márquez’s trainer Nacho Beristain regarding Juan Manuel’s training regimen and his preparation for the fight. I have met with and discussed the fight with respected colleagues and have shared ideas back and forth about both fighters’ possibilities of winning the fight. Fight week is the easy part, since it comes down to applying all that ‘homework’ into my interviews and on-air analysis.”
I asked Rafael about the anticipation of this fight compared to recent Pac-Man fights.
“It’s a big fight because Manny’s in the fight,” Rafael said.
“I think the build up for the Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton fights were greater. I definitely think this will be an exciting one, but I don’t put it at a higher level over other Pacquiao fights.”
With PacMan as the marquee draw, how do the analysts give Márquez an equal amount of coverage?
“We’re able to highlight Márquez because everyone considers Márquez the one guy that has given Pacquiao the most trouble,” said Motta.
“Márquez is a great counter puncher. He’s the one guy that has been able to make Pacquiao retreat in the ring.”
I also asked Motta what it’s like covering a fellow ESPN boxing analyst.
“I’m not going to have a biased opinion because he works with us,” said Motta. “He understands that and knows that we are not going to hold him in higher regard.”
So what are these analysts’ predictions for the fight?
“I think Pacquiao wins by KO,” said Rafael. “This fight is going to be a real tough one for Márquez.”
Motta said of Saturday’s bout: “If Márquez goes in and tries for the knockout, he will be KO’d. He needs to be patient if he expects to win and can’t let Manny dictate the fight.”
Osuna said: “I believe that Pacquiao will win this third fight. Juan Manuel has trained extremely hard for this ‘rubber match,’ as has Manny. I just feel that at age 38, he’s not getting any quicker and with the added weight. If anything, he’ll be slower than in their previous 2 fights.
“Márquez is extremely intelligent and is a master at making in-fight adjustments. He’s been close to upsetting Pacquiao in the past, but that was at 126 and 130 pounds. Fighting at 144 pounds is a totally different story and Pacquiao’s punching power will come to bear in a fight that will be amazing as long as it lasts.”
Whether you are a Pacquiao fan or a Márquez fan, this fight should be an exciting one to watch.
Friday, SportsCenter will have live coverage from the weigh-in during the 6 p.m. ET hour as well as extensive pre- and post-fight coverage on Saturday with Osuna, Motta and Rafael.
On ESPN Deportes, Golpe a Golpe will also have live coverage of Friday’s weigh-in during the 6 p.m. ET hour as well as post-fight analysis.