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Friday, November 11, 2011


LAS VEGAS -- Boxing pound for pound king and WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines (L) came in at 143 lbs while Mexican challenger Juan Manuel Marquez stepped in at 142 lbs during the official weighin held moments ago at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in front of a capacity crowd for the highly anticipated bout Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.


Legendary trainers collide in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – Not only will two of the top fighters in the world compete in the main event Saturday, but they’ll be handled by arguably the two best trainers working today: Nacho Beristain and Freddie Roach.

And as different as they may be, the trainers agree that work will be over once Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao step into the ring. They’ll become little more than spectators.

“Everybody wants to make it Freddie Roach against me,” Beristain said. “But that is wrong. It is Manny Pacquiao against Juan Manuel Marquez. Once that bell rings, we have nothing to do it with it.”

eristain leaned back in his chair, patted his (relatively) flat midsection and all but sneered.

“I feel like [expletive],” the 72-year-old Hall of Fame boxing trainer growled.

For the past three months, Beristain hasn’t been able to do what he has done virtually every day for about a half century: run five miles.

Beristain has been preparing Marquez to face Pacquiao on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a welterweight title bout that is one of the year’s most significant. And a half dozen of his other fighters are also competing in noteworthy bouts. He’s got precious little time to do anything but work in his gym and watch tapes. Much of his time has been spent getting Marquez ready to meet Pacquiao, boxing’s pound-for-pound champion.

Marquez fought a pair of excruciatingly close bouts against Pacquiao, drawing in 2004 and dropping a split decision in 2008. Another loss to Pacquiao, close or otherwise, and Marquez will run out of chances.

And so Beristain, one of the game’s unheralded great trainers, the maker of 21 male world champions and two female champions, has thrown himself headlong into his work. Every waking moment, it seems, has been about finding a way to help Marquez defeat Pacquiao.

Daily run be damned.

Even when he gets to run these days, it isn’t as exhilarating, not since he was inducted last year into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Now, whenever he runs, his solitude is interrupted by well-wishers and glad-handers.

“I go running by and they all yell, ‘Hey, Hall of Famer! Beristain, way to go!’ ” Beristain said. “They want to talk, or shake hands, just be around you. But I’ve got a lot to do. This Hall of Fame isn’t exactly what I wanted.”

Across the ring Saturday, Beristain will peer at a much younger man who will almost certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. Freddie Roach, 51, has trained Pacquiao for more than 10 years and has developed him into perhaps the most fearsome fighting machine on the planet.

Roach is a humble sort, even though his handlers are trying desperately to make him a star. Cameras follow him everywhere, reporters hang on his every word and HBO is planning a series on Roach’s life beginning in January.

Roach has won the Trainer of the Year Award three years in a row, four times in the last five years and five times overall.

His mentor, Eddie Futch, won it in 1991 and 1992, when he was 80 and 81 years old. The Boxing Writers Association of America didn’t create the award until 1989. Had it been given out when Futch started training, he might have a few dozen.

“There’s never been a trainer like Eddie,” Roach said.

The statistics would say that there is no trainer like Roach. When fighters develop bad habits, their managers send them to Roach. When mixed martial arts fighters want to learn to box, they seek out Roach.

Bruce Trampler, a Hall of Famer himself and arguably the greatest matchmaker in boxing history, said if he has a young fighter he wants to be developed properly, he’ll send him to Roach.

Beristain comes from a well-to-do Mexican family. His father was solidly middle class and his mother came from a wealthy family. She was horrified when she learned that her teen-age son had turned to boxing.

She tried desperately to convince him to do something else with his life, but he was fascinated with the fight game and wouldn’t be swayed.

He was a flyweight who won some significant amateur tournaments in Mexico and then went 13-1-2 as a pro before retiring in 1959. His passion for boxing remained, however, and he became a trainer good enough to coach Mexico in the Olympics in 1968, 1976 and 1980.

In those days, the Cubans and the former Soviet Union were dominant teams and Beristain admired their styles. He studied intently and built his own philosophy around what he learned from them, adapting it for the professional game.

Three of his fighters, Ricardo “Finito” Lopez, Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez and Daniel Zaragoza, have been elected to the Hall of Fame.

His style relies upon three basic tenets: footwork, making the hands and feet work in unison and learning to throw combinations.

Marquez said Beristain is a perfectionist who isn’t pleased if a training session becomes sloppy or if Marquez isn’t paying close attention to his technique.

“He is always trying to make everything perfect and he gets very mad [if it’s not],” Marquez said. “That’s why I like to train with him.”

Roach, who as a fighter in the 1980s went 40-13 and was more tough than talented, has nearly perfected Pacquiao. When Pacquiao arrived by chance at Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Calif., in 2001, he was blazingly fast and generated extraordinary power because of his quickness.

But he was far from a complete fighter. He was left-hand dominant and rarely used his right hand. His footwork was a mess and he didn’t put his punches together particularly well.

They’d spend hours in the ring working on the most basic of concepts and pore over fight films, trying to discover and correct flaws.

“Freddie helped me to always keep working on my technique to get better,” Pacquiao said.

Their contributions to the outcome Saturday may lay in the plan they devised. Both Beristain and Roach watched video of the fighters for hours upon hours, rewinding and watching the same segments.

They’re looking for little tip-offs that they could make a difference. The result of the fight, and the balance of power within the sport, could hinge on what they noticed.

“Nacho has had great results with his fighters and obviously, he’s good at what he does,” Roach said. “The thing is, who will come up with the better game plan for this fight, me or him? I feel I got my guy 100 percent ready for whatever Marquez might bring.

“He’s been a counter puncher throughout his career, but he’s been more aggressive, more TV-friendly, in his last couple of fights. He’s put a lot of muscle on, too, and when you put muscle on, is it for counter punching and speed? No. It’s for exchanging and fighting toe-to-toe. I think I have a little bit of insight into what they’re thinking. I told Manny I think he’s going to come out quick. So we have a good sense of what they’ll do and of what we need to do.”

What they each need to do is win, Pacquiao to preserve the possibility of a super fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marquez to hopefully get one more big payday before he’s through.

Beristain is the father of three girls and a boy, all of whom have college degrees. One of his daughters has a doctorate in economics and another is studying for her Ph.D in economics. His wife, he said, has three degrees “and thinks she’s the smartest one in the family.”

But he said it’s not going to be his smarts or Roach’s smarts that carry the day.

“Whoever wins, [the media] will try to say that I had something to do with it or that Freddie Roach had something to do with it,” Beristain said. “I disagree. When you have good fighters and they’re in good shape, you look like you’re a lot smarter than you really are.”


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Manny Pacquiao, Facts, Stats, & Figures

Some of this stuff you already know, but if you are looking for some statistical data for angle on Saturday’s night’s Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight, or if you’re placing a bet on it, some of this stuff might come in handy.

* Pacquiao’s winning streak is currently fourteen straight fights. He was won three consecutive fights by decision, with his last win inside the distance being a stoppage in the final round against Miguel Angel Cotto in November 2009.

* Pacquiao has fought four times at 144 pounds (the “catchweight” for this bout) or higher. Those were the last four bouts on his record.

* Seven of Pacquiao’s last nine fights have been held in Las Vegas, and four of his last six were at the MGM Grand, the site of Saturday’s fight.

* Thus far, Pacquiao has made two defenses of the WBO crown that will be on the line against Marquez. Those defenses were against Joshua Clottey and Shane Mosley. The decision win over Margarito, which took place a year ago, was for the 154-pound title as sanctioned by the WBC.

* Pacquiao’s first world championship bout took place in December 1998 (almost 13 years ago), as he was the eight-round KO winner over Chatchai Sasakul. His last defeat was in March 2005 when he was beaten on a decision by Erik Morales.

* Pacquiao’s first fight against Juan Manuel Marquez took place at 125 pounds, and for the second one, he was 129 pounds. This contracted weight constitutes a big step up in weight for both guys since that last meeting.

* The second fight against Marquez was the last time Pacquiao has fought below 130 pounds. Two years later, he was at his heaviest weight as a pro – 145-1/2 pounds against Clottey.

* Pacquiao’s fights in recent years have one things in common, in that they have not been particularly close. In his last bout, he won it by a combined 36 points (across the three judges’ cards) over Mosley. Previous to that he had a combined margin of 30 points against Margarito and 32 points over Clottey. He was ahead by a combined 27 points over Cotto until stopping him, led Oscar De La Hoya by 25 points until stopping him after eight rounds, and led David Diaz by 26 combined points when he registered a ninth-round TKO.

* The last fighter to have won on any judge’s scorecard against Pacquiao was in fact Juan Manuel Marquez, who in that last meeting on March 15, 2008 won on Jerry Roth’s card by a score of 115-112. In the first encounter (May 8.2004), despite suffering three first-round knockdowns, Marquez won on Guy Jutras’ card, 115-110.

* Currently Pacquiao has a won-lost percentage of 94.6%, though his 71.7% of KO’s as a percentage of wins is lower than that of Marquez. It is something that can be attributed to the moves up in weight for Pacquiao, which have happened in relatively rapid fashion.

* The knockout distribution for Pacquiao is as follows: 1st – 6, 2nd – 7, 3rd – 5, 4th – 5, 5th – 3, 6th – 4, 7th – 0, 8th – 3, 9th – 1, 10th – 2, 11th – 1, 12th – 1.

* Pacquiao has scored 23 of his 38 career knockouts (60.5%) in the first four rounds. Interestingly enough, only eight of those 38 KO’s have come after the sixth round


Juan Manuel Marquez – Facts, Stats, & Figures

Are you going to be watching the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight on Saturday? We’re sure you will be. Maybe these statistical and numerical facts will help you take a look at it, or aid in some betting analysis of it, since there are so many gambling propositions on it.

* Since the draw with Manny Pacquiao in their first meeting, Marquez has compiled a record of 11-3, with a loss, of course, to Pacquiao, and defeats at the hands of two fighters (Floyd Mayweather and Chris John) who were undefeated.

* Marquez is the older fighter in this matchup, by a span of five years and four months. When he goes into the ring, he will be 38 years of age.

* Marquez has fought a total of 432 rounds in his professional career.

* The heaviest Marquez has ever been for a professional fight is 142 pounds, which he weighed when he fought Mayweather in September 2009. After that fight he was out of action for ten months, as he dropped to 133-1/2 for his WBO lightweight title rematch against Juan Diaz.

* Marquez will be moving up six pounds in weight (theoretically anyway) in a span of less than four months, as his last bout was at 138 pounds against Likar Ramos on July 16. For much of his career, Marquez has campaigned between 126 and 130 pounds.

* Marquez has won world titles in three different weight divisions – featherweight, junior lightweight (or super featherweight, if you prefer) and lightweight. That’s a weight span of 126 to 135 pounds.

* Marquez is the last fighter to win on any judges’ card against Pacquiao, but when he fought Mayweather, he was decisively beaten. Mayweather, in fact, beat him by scores of 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109,

* This will be the 16th world title fight in which Marquez has engaged.

* Marquez first fought for a world championship back in September 1999, when he lost to Freddie Norwood. So it has been over a dozen years since he first started to engage in world title competition. Despite the fact that he is more than five years older than Pacquiao, his first title shot came almost two years after Pacquiao’s first shot.

* Marquez is hardly a stranger to Las Vegas, having fought there 19 times in his career. In those bouts he is 15-3-1 with ten KO’s.

* Marquez was a win-loss percentage of 91.4% in his pro career. He has scored 73.6% of his wins inside the distance.

* Marquez and Pacquiao have fought some of the same opponents. For example, they have both faced Marco Antonio Barrera; Pacquiao has stopped Barrera and won a 12-round decision over him, while Marquez beat him on a 12-round decision. Pacquiao boxed to an ugly, bizarre six-round technical draw with Agapito Sanchez, while Marquez beat Sanchez in a 12-round decision in an NABO title fight (April 1997). Pacquiao stopped Reynate Jamili in two rounds in 1999, while Marquez took him out in three a year later.

* Marquez and his brother Rafael, a two-time world champion, have a better combined record than Pacquiao and his brother Bobby. The Marquezes, combined, are 92-11-1 with 74 KO’s, while the Pacquiaos are a combined 82-18-5. Marquez and his brother have chalked up 73.6% of their wins by knockout, while the Pacquiaos have a KO rate, expressed as a percentage of wins, of 63.4%.

* Marquez’s first-round knockout of Likar Ramos in July was his first fight since October 2001 that failed to complete six full rounds.

* This is the way Marquez’s knockouts have been distributed: 1st – 5, 2nd – 5, 3rd – 3, 4th – 3, 5th – 1, 6th – 2, 7th – 5, 8th – 4, 9th – 5, 10th – 4, 11th – 1, 12th – 1.

* Marquez’s knockout wins are much more evenly distributed than Pacquiao’s. He has scored a KO or TKO in every round. He also has 19 KO’s in the first six rounds, with 20 coming from rounds 7-12. Marquez has never been stopped in a fight.


Pacquiao-Marquez III: Expect a Classic

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – The virtual stalemate brought about by what many perceived was the indecisive result of their initial two meetings will finally be resolved when Filipino World Boxing Organization Manny Pacquiao and Mexican challenger Juan Manuel Marquez battle for the third time Saturday at the MGM Grand here.

This, Pacquiao himself, owner of the 147-pound belt, and Marquez, who will try to divest him of the crown, reiterated yesterday during a separate press conferences held at one of the function rooms of the official home of the fight.

“I thought this issue had been settled in our second fight, but some people, including Marquez himself, doubted the outcome. Much as I believed that this third fight is unnecessary, still I obliged to erase all doubts that, instead of him, I was the one who emerged triumphant in both fights,” Pacquiao said in Tagalog.

Pacquiao, actually, will try to remove one of the only two thorns tainting what was a supposed to be rosy career, the other one being his twice aborted showdown with American undefeated welterweight Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“He kept on saying he got robbed in the first two fights. This fight will answer all the doubts and all the questions,” the 32-year-old pound-for-pound king and eight-division champ, stressed.

“Everyone, including many of my countrymen, believe he (Pacquiao) really won those fights,” Marquez, the undisputed world lightweight kingpin, for his part, said through an interpreter.. “I will prove them wrong after this fight.”

“I have train harder than all my fights before for this. I know I am at a disadvantage because I have to put additional weights, but that’s the reason why, precisely, I got a new strength coach,” the 38-year-old Mexican “Dinamita” related in reference to an alleged former drug dealer Angel Hernandez (aka Heredia).

“I’ve really grown big, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I lost my speed,” he assured. “I can be as fast as he and as powerful as I used to be.”
Both vowed to give boxing fans all over the world a great fight during the subsequent media conference held under the auspices of Top Rank Promotion and major sponsor Tecate Beer at the MGM Hollywood Theater later in the day.

“Everything is all set,” Pacquiao said as he invited boxing fans to watch and enjoy the fight. “Not everybody can watch the fight live inside the stadium. But just the same, you will be seeing a great fight.”

“I seldom talk about a fight outside of the ring. Inside it, I’ll do my job,” Marquez warned even as he added he is dedicating this third encounter against Pacman to his countrymen and Mexico.

Pacquiao’s chief trainer Freddie Roach, strength coach Alex Ariza, adviser Michael KJoncz, assistant trainer and Pacman’s childhood friend Buboy Fernandez and Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson were also in attendance, seated in the presidential table allotted to the Filipino icon.

Roach’s counterpart, Hall of Famer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, Marquez promoter Fernando Beltran and WBO president Richard Stern accompanied Marquez in his side of the panel.

Arum, meanwhile, announced that all tickets have been sold as emphasized as he attested the tremendous popularity of the combatants.

“The tremendous demand for tickets speaks well of the popularity of Pacquiao and Marquez, the two best pound-for-pound fighters of this era,” the Harvard-educated lawyer, said.

“This is a fight between two gentleman boxers, who are not only sportsmen but warriors as well,” Arum said. “Expect a great fight, a classic fight,” he said.


Youthful Juan Manuel Marquez

When I travel to new places I try to embrace that feeling of literally not knowing where I am for there are days when you just wish you could just disappear. When I travel to new places especially down the beautiful countryside I find these occasional stop-overs as perfect moments for it and you step out of the bus and look around and you're not able to identify yourself with anything that you see, and it feels like bursting into this world for the very first time. It's like you've been re-born. It's in that short span of time, however brief and temporary, that you are filled once again, regardless of your age, with the novelty of living your life and youthful energy.

Every round of the fight is going to be like new ground for Juan Manuel Marquez, who may at one point never have thought a trilogy with Manny would finally come to fruition. After two controversial loses, Marquez stood at the crossroads of his career and left to eat dust as his nemesis traveled high up in weight divisions. But the proud warrior perseveres. After living under the shadow of other great Mexican fighters Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales for years, perseverance is nothing new to Juan Manuel Marquez as he never gives up until credit is given where credit is due.

Now he is back again in the spotlight of the world's toughest sport. Every round is going to be a new ground and at 38 years of age, the Mexican champion is young again. He is revitalized with hope after being given another shot at making it right this time with the greatest challenge in his career. Time is giving him a chance to make amends.

Manny Pacquiao has continuously shown us how he has evolved by developing many facets of his game starting from that beat down of Diaz to breaking Margarito's eye socket. Without a face, it would be very difficult to identify the fighter he once was years ago to how he is as a fighter at present. The pound for pound number one fighter has not slowed down a bit. Come fight night we can expect a younger Juan Manuel Marquez. A re-born fighter standing in the middle of nowhere as if with a new lease in life; rejuvenated and hoping to shock the world, as they all say before a match. The question now is whether that new found enthusiasm is enough to come out victorious. He couldn't beat Pacquiao's speed at the featherweights and we really cant expect him to be faster at Welterweight. That goes for his power, too. Even the younger Juan Manuel Marquez never really had that one-punch knockout power, and bear in mind that his opponent has withstood the wrecking power of the likes of Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.

I do not doubt that Marquez will go out fighting. I expect him to be as good as he was in his younger days, or at least during those two fights he's had with Pacquiao which ended up in controversy. Those fights were a perfect display of the classic resilience Marquez has been known for. I expect him to be as good as the Marquez of old who fought one Manny Pacquiao who had to starve to make weight and an under developed right hand and who's overall fighting skills were unpolished.

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