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Despite Manny Pacquiao’s latest win, Juan Manuel Marquez still has edge over him

Credit: Will Hart - HBO

What Pacquiao vs. Bradley II Says About Marquez vs. Pacquiao V:

Like many observers, I expected Manny Pacquiao to get his revenge over Timothy Bradley in triumphant fashion, and in so doing I overestimated two factors. First, I was thinking that righting the wrong of 2012’s worst robbery would reignite the fire in Pacquiao’s belly, giving back some of the gusto to a fighter who has looked to be losing interest in the Sweet Science in recent years.

Second, I underestimated the extent to which Timothy Bradley would fine-tune and improve his game plan the second time around. In truth, he was far more competitive against Pacquiao in this fight than he was in the first encounter, although he clearly lost both of them.

What Bradley’s performance tells me is that Pacquiao should have less than even odds of beating arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez in a fifth encounter, should such a fight take place. Styles make fights, and it seems that while Bradley has the style to eek past Marquez, and Pacquiao has the style to thump Bradley, Marquez has the style to take down Pacquiao. If anything, Dinamita has become more competitive against Pacquaio as the years have gone by.

A number of factors all come together to indicate Marquez should be the favorite in another dance with the Filipino dynamo. Pacquiao has slowed down some, reducing the hand speed gap; Pacman has trouble with counter-punchers who are either skilled or slick enough to defuse his quick-fisted, straight-punching forward assault; the Filipino now has at least part of his attention fixed on life outside of and after the ring.

In fact, Marquez might be able to widen his lead even more. Dinamita’s style has always been to counter from close or medium range, but if he can integrate some wider-ranging movement into his game and thereby use space better, he might also widen Pacquiao’s vulnerability to his counters. Another tactic would be to throw to the body more. Bradley did both of this things, and they gave Pacman serious trouble at times.

Perhaps most importantly at all, Pacquiao now has that brutal knockout loss in the back of his mind. Whether or not he admits it, it’s there.

It was even on display in the rematch against Bradley. When Pacquiao got hurt early on in the bout, his body language and physical reaction seemed to indicate that some serious doubt began creeping in. Bradley, with less power and innate ring IQ at his disposal, was unable to capitalize, but Marquez wouldn’t let such an opportunity pass. Meanwhile, a hesitant Pacquiao, one who never put himself in a position to be hurt, would only allow Marquez to further shine, and win rounds with ease.

The bottom line is this: unless Marquez suddenly becomes either old or lazy, don’t put your money on Manny if a fifth fight should come about.