Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are different fighters with different means to the same end. Remove all doubt. That seems to be the catch phrase in Sin City this week.
Both hope to attain such removal, for different reasons, when they complete their trilogy Saturday at sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena (HBO pay-per-view, 9p.m. ET).
The first fight ended in a draw. Pacquiao won the second by a one-point split decision.
Marquez firmly believes he won both fights. His Hall of Fame trainer, Nacho Beristain, says he'll go to his grave believing Marquez won the second.
Marquez just wants a fair decision. He knows his mission will be anything but easy.
"You have to use everything -- strength, intelligence, speed. This is a fight you almost have to be perfect," says the Mexican fighter, nicknamed "Dinamita."
Pacquiao, who knocked down Marquez three times in the first fight and once in the second, feels he won both, closely but convincingly.
In the 3 years since they last met, both fighters have changed in style and appearance.
In 2008 they fought at 130pounds. This time they will fight for Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title at a catchweight of 144 pounds.
They're older. Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) is nearing 33, and Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) is 38.
Pacquiao, says his longtime trainer, Freddie Roach, is far better than when they last met, both with his hands and feet.
"Manny used to be able to move in one direction, but now he moves laterally in both directions much better," Roach says. "And Manny's punching power has grown with the weight gain. I think if Manny puts him down this time, he won't get up.
"I told everyone I'm not going to be satisfied until his right hand is as good as his left, and it is at this point. He can knock him out with both hands. In the first two fights, Manny only had the left hand."
The key to the fight, Roach says, is Pacquiao's footwork.
"Manny has the type of movement where you think he's coming, but he's not. He feints his way in, and he draws the lead out and he's very efficient at that. So that's the key."
Roach wants Pacquiao to go for the knockout but knows it's not easy getting his fighter to think along those same lines.
"I believe all fights should end in knockouts," Roach says matter-of-factly. "But Manny is a compassionate man, and I believe he let his last two opponents (Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley) off the hook. But I can tell by his work ethic and the way he's been training that there's a little fire under him."
Marquez has gained weight and muscle mass.
"(Marquez) is not strictly a counterpuncher anymore. They both changed styles," Roach says. "Manny became a better boxer. Marquez became a more aggressive, exciting puncher, to be more TV friendly. That aggressiveness will pay for Manny, though, because Manny likes when people come to him.
"I give (Marquez) credit. He's got a plan, and he's going to go with it," Roach says. "He's had Manny hurt a couple times in the last two fights, so it's not the worst idea. I would've went back to my counterpunching style. Would that give Manny trouble? I think yes, but I'm not Nacho Beristain."
Both trainers agree on what makes this fight worth watching.
"I believe that because Manny Pacquiao is such a spectacular fighter, he's always willing to exchange and always willing to fight, and he found a guy that's willing to fight with him," Beristain says.
"You can lose a lot of sleep thinking about how you're going to beat Pacquiao."
Says Roach: "They both get in shape, both come to fight and both have a lot of heart. They're both very determined people.
"That's why we're having a trilogy here."
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