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When Juan Manuel Marquez garnered a draw with Manny Pacquiao the first time they met in June 2008, it was because the Mexican easily figured out Pacquiao’s rhythm and took advantage of his opponent’s predictability. Marquez, despite getting floored thrice in the first round, rallied from the huge deficit and counterpunched his way to nab most of the remaining rounds. Although many argued that Pacquiao should have won hat fight, but due to a scoring error, Pacquiao had to settle for a draw.

They met the second time in March 2008. Pacquiao, by then, completed his own trilogy with another Mexican legend Erik Morales and thrashed fellow Mexican superstar Marco Antonio Barrera for the second time. Marquez was also fresh off a unanimous decision win over Barrera. Coming into the fight, many favored Pacquiao to win, mainly because the fashion of how he handled Morales and Barrera prior.

"Pacquiao is a different fighter now" - Juan Manuel Marquez

But Marquez was tough as nails and gave Pacquiao everything the Filipino can handle. Their rematch was so close that it could have gone either way but the knockdown dealt by Pacquiao in the fourth round prove to be the clincher. Marquez suffered his first defeat at the hands of Mexicutioner in two fights. But it seemed that Marquez certainly had Pacquiao’s number.

HAD.

Judging the current state both fighters are in, it is quite visible for any boxing fan, casual and hardcore, to see that Pacquiao has grown by leaps and bounds. Settling perfectly as a welter and tearing through the ranks like a typhoon from the Pacific, Pacquiao certainly evolved from that one-dimensional heavy-hitting lefty to a dynamic and speedy two-handed fistic ring monster.

Even Marquez, who still claims he has the formula to beat Pacquiao, admits that he will be facing a wholly different opponent.

“He (Pacquiao) has changed,” Marquez said. “He is working with two hands. He now uses his right hand.”

And it is not just the right hand Marquez needs to worry about come fight night on November 12th, 2011 in Las Vegas. Pacquiao is certainly not that come-forward fighter who lashes out a predictable jab-jab-left straight combination. The Filipino dervish has certainly upped his pugilistic repertoire with unusual combos, tricks, lateral movements, and angles.

“This is a different fight,” the Mexican said.

Marquez definitely got that right.

Photo credits: Pacquiao-Marquez III

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Kenneth P. Ragpala is an award-winning sports blogger who has been covering the sport of boxing since 2008. His works have appeared in local newspapers in his home city in Cagayan de Oro and in several online publications abroad. Ragpala has written for several boxing websites, namely Fight Hype, 8 Count News, and Bleacher Report.