Eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is set to end eight years of boxing rivalry against Mexican counter-puncher Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pacquiao is coming off a loss to Timothy Bradley last June 9 in what appeared to be a clear win for the Filipino boxing icon but the judges saw the fight in a different perspective.
After his controversial loss, Pacquiao called on his millions of fans to accept the judges' decision. But he said he knew he won the fight.
"I accept what the result is," Pacquiao said at the ringside interview. "I respect the judges, I cannot blame them. It is a part of the game. I give thanks to the Lord. I do my best but my best wasn't good enough."
In an effort to ascertain who really won the fight, WBO president Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel asked five seasoned boxing judges to review the video of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight. After the review, all the judges said Pacquiao won the fight. Read more.
The controversial decision by the judges triggered US congressional action on the revival of a US boxing bill now pending in congress
Prior to his loss against Bradley, Pacquiao also figured in another controversial third fight against Marquez last year.
In both fights (aginst Bradley and Marquez), fans who were used to seeing Pacquiao destroy his opponents in a very impressive and convincing fashion, have noticed a different Pacquiao—a fighter known for his speed and punching power.
Many of his passionate fans have attributed his lack of preparations and fight distractions to his transformation from his sinful lifestyle to a religious family man and a Bible-reading addict.
But Pacquiao believes God is on his side and whatever happens in the ring, it is God's will.
"What I can say is, if God is with you, who can be against you," Pacquiao told ESPN. "All things are possible with God."
On Saturday night, Pacquiao promised his fans they will see the old Pacquiao in tough fighting form. Marquez "is gonna be surprised that I changed my style," said Pacquiao, who is turning 34 on December 17.
Asked if he will knock out Marquez, Pacquiao said, "If he gives me a chance to finish the fight, why not? I mean, I'm not predicting I'm going to knock him out, but I'll do my best and get back the aggressiveness I had when I was 25 or 26 years old.
Pacquiao and Marquez fought for the first time in 2004 at the MGM Grand, where the Filipino star knocked down Marquez three times in the first round, but the Mexican stood his ground in the later rounds to get a draw verdict.
In 2008, Pacquiao won via a split decision, and in 2011, the Filipino boxing star won via a majority decision. Read more:
The main supporting bouts for the Pacquiao vs. Marquez fight include Filipino Mercito Gesta (26-0-1, 14KO) and Miguel Vasquez (31-3-0, 13KO) of Guadalajara for a 12 round IBF World Lightweight title fight.
Another Filipino, Michael Farenas (34-3-4, 34KO) will try to outpoint Cuban ex-Olympian Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0-0, 16KO) for WBA Interim Super featherweight title.
The Saturday night boxing event will be televised worldwide and available on HBO pay-per-view.