Watching the old fights on HBO (love HBO).
The first round was predictable and has been analyzed ad nauseum. Pac knocked JMM down three times, but didn’t really seem to hurt him much.
Following that JMM looked a lot more comfortable. I’ve since heard that he started figuring out Manny’s speed and was able to blunt and avoid the hard shots. Nobody seems to expect Manny’s power. Round two looked pretty close to me.
Rounds three and four also looked close. I could see any of these rounds going to JMM, who is settling in nicely. He is clearly the better boxer. He’s clearly a better boxer than just about anyone.
JMM’s face shows that he’s definitely taking shots. At the same time, he’s definitely timing Manny’s advances now. Pac can’t seem to get in there without getting hit clean. Even though JMM doesn’t have anything like Manny’s power, nobody likes getting punched in the face and Manny’s easing off on the offense.
This is what I’m expecting: Marquez to chill things out with defensive countering. Slow things down. Fight his fight. Since nobody ever talks about anything other than the first round, I imagine the rest of this thing is going to go this way.
Not easy coming back to draw things after getting put down three times, but grinding is the way you’d do it if you didn’t have knockout power.
What’s most intriguing about the upcoming fight is that, unlike with Floyd, neither of these two guys’ strengths are really going to fade quickly with age. JMM has an incredible, Hopkins-esque boxing IQ. He counters and moves and anticipates. Manny has supernatural power and balance.
I’m starting to appreciate Manny’s genius, actually. For most fighters, power and quickness cruelly trade off: you need to plant your feet and coordinate quads, hips, abs and shoulders to summon KO strength. It’s both slow and incredibly obvious when you do it: like sounding an air raid siren.
Not so for Manny. He punches with power from what are called ‘angles’, which means he doesn’t hunker down and telegraph cruel intentions, surprising opponents with real sizzle on shots that from most would be cheap patter. Once JMM figured this out, he could deal with this, while others either don’t or can’t. And even an all-time great boxer like Marquez is vulnerable until he gets used to Manny’s style: you can’t pull Mannys off the street to spar against, after all.
Back to the fight. The later rounds aren’t dominant in any fashion, really, but not boring either. Lots of action, which would be really exciting if I didn’t know the outcome: these are two guys that come to play. Without knockdowns, I’d say that Marquez wins 2 of every 3 rounds he and Manny square off. And all rounds are close, so who can really say?