Pacquiao-Marquez 2012: A technical comparison (Part 2)

Carlos Cinco
In preparation for the fourth bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, Rappler analyzes and compares the fighters' technical skills. Part two looks at their hooks, relentlessness, defense and combinations.

BETTER MOOD. "He's having fun with it," trainer Freddie Roach said of his prized fighter Manny Pacquiao on training for his fourth bout against Juan Manuel Marquez. File photo by AFP.

This is part two of Pacquiao-Marquez 2012: A technical comparison 

After comparing Pacquiao and Marquez in the areas of footwork, jabs and counterpunching, it’s time to delve a little deeper into the complexity of their styles – to better understand the intricacies of how they match up so well against each other.

If Manny Pacquiao is the offensive monster of a boxer-puncher that we all know him to be, equally, Marquez is just as great as the intelligent, master of the art of defense by calculated aggression.

And so we continue our analysis:

1. Hooks


Marquez has a good right hook. In, fact he has tagged Pacquiao many times with it.

In boxing, the hook is arguably the strongest punch in the book because it travels the shortest distance and is so compact, retaining power and speed and landing quickly and explosively.

The fact that Marquez’s right hook can hardly faze Pacquiao even if it lands as frequently as it does means it’s inferior. It’s a point scorer, but it’s surely not a knockout punch.

In totality, Marquez uses not just the hook, but a variety of different punches and combinations to score his points, combinations taught to him by the great Nacho Beristein, his legendary coach.

One of those combinations is his left hook to the body, followed by a left uppercut to the chin aptly dubbed as the ‘Cuarenta y Cinco’ referring to the 45 degree punch angle trajectory of the combination.


In stark contrast, Pacquiao’s hooks are devastating and can take an opponent out or change the tide of a fight.
Pacquiao’s right hook (Manila Ice) was responsible for knocking down both Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto so there’s definitely proven power behind it.

And even more famous is Pacquiao’s check left hook which took out David Diaz and Ricky Hatton, sent Marquez to the canvas in their 2nd fight, and put Miguel Cotto on wobbly knees as a hookercut. 

There was a point in time when Pacquiao’s check left hook was the most talked about punch in boxing. Every one from rapper Jay-Z to MMA stalwart Junior Dos Santos referred to it as perhaps the single most effective punch in the sport. Former pound-for-pound champion, the legendary Roy Jones Jr. told the whole world Pacquiao’s left hook was a beauty to watch.

Pacquiao likes to throw a lead jab feint, bait his opponent in and use the natural torque gained from this motion to transfer the power from his torso to his left hook which lands pinpoint on the chin. There are many examples of this punch in action – see Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton round 2, and Pacquiao vs Marquez II round 3.

Needless to say, Pacquiao’s hooks are on a different level altogether.


2. Never-Ending, Relentlessness


The endless, relentless attacking style of Pacquiao can cause match-up problems for anybody. And when Pacquiao is in full-on, attack mode, there really isn’t anybody that can stop him. Not even Marquez.

It’s just unfortunate that, due to his age, Pacquiao can no longer sustain fighting at his frenetic pace for the course of 12 rounds. He now resorts to a more laid back, boxing approach which in my opinion plays right to the strengths of Marquez.

Although Pacquiao claims he will be bringing his youthful 25 year old energy back to the ring in this 4th fight, it’s all just unfulfilled promises at this point as that is yet to be seen.

Nevertheless, when Pacquiao is his usual bouncy and energetic self, he’s unstoppable. No one would want to trade punches with him when he’s in this mode because he always gets the better of the exchanges due to his superior punch output and handspeed.

Pacquiao also employs this style much more effectively against stationary opponents which Marquez isn’t. Hence, he hasn’t been able to really have his way with Marquez since 2004. Case in point: Pacquiao vs Oscar de la Hoya, and Pacquiao vs Antonio Margarito.


Marquez doesn’t have a never-ending attack. Marquez likes to place well-calculated, well-timed attacks and counter-attacks. See part one and the section on counterpunching.


3. Defense


Marquez has good solid defense made exceptional by his brilliant counterpunching.

He’s not a defensive wizard in the vein of Floyd Mayweather but opponents respect his ability to counterpunch so much that it boosts his defensive rating exponentially.

Marquez gets tagged a lot, he’s not exactly the most elusive fighter out there. If opponents throw enough punches, eventually some get through. Prime example: Marquez vs Juan Diaz I and II.

The reason for this is because Marquez isn’t particularly fast on his feet. If opponents can close the gap quickly, they can get in and land a couple of shots before getting hit by Marquez’s counters. Pacquiao is so good at getting into range, that’s why he’s had the success he’s had against Marquez. 

It’s always been the same each and every fight. Pacquiao lands more punches because he throws more and is constantly on the offensive, and Marquez lands the more telling blows because he sets up his punches and picks his spots.

Nevada judges however, have a tendency to score in favor of the aggressor hence Pacquiao’s 3 consecutive wins over Marquez. This is also why Marquez was requesting for non-Nevada judges for their 4th meeting.


Pacquiao’s best defense has always been his offense, and that will never change.

Yes, Freddie Roach improved his overall footwork and ring generalship. Yes, Freddie Roach makes sure Pacquiao keeps his hands up all the time. But defense really isn’t Pacquiao’s strong suit.

How is his offense his best defense? It’s because of his relentlessness.

It’s his relentless offense that keeps opponents on the back foot and disrupts them from getting punches of their own off, diminishing the need for defense. If an opponent is constantly fending off attacks and trying to survive, then he has no time to launch an offensive.

If all the offense comes from Pacquiao, then there’s no need for defense. The reason Marquez has been so successful against Pacquiao, is because he’s a counterpuncher who uses Pacquiao’s offense against him.

Aside from that, Pacquiao doesn’t move his head very much and pretty much stays right in front of his opponent with his hands not quite on his cheekbones, providing that small opening, just enough for punches to get through. See Pacquiao-Marquez I, II and III, and Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto.


4. Combinations


Combinations have always been one of Pacquiao’s strengths.

When he throws punches in bunches, that’s when opponents are in trouble. If Pacquiao can make sure to keep Marquez intent on playing defense, he’s bound to land something Marquez won’t see coming and send Marquez back down to the canvas for a fifth time – maybe this time for good.

In fact, the 3 knockdowns Pacquiao scored against Marquez in their first fight were all a result of Pacquiao just attacking Marquez furiously with everything he had. Fortunately, 3 good left hands got in and sent Marquez down to the canvas 3 times in the first round alone.

When Pacquiao launches his offensive behind his blistering combinations, good things happen. They say it’s the punch you don’t see that gets you.

Pacquiao throws so many at such a high speed, a lot of his punches you can’t really see. Pacquiao has to stick to throwing combinations if he wants to knockout Marquez. If he fights Marquez the way he fought Tim Bradley, Marquez will pick him apart. Refer to Pacquiao-Dela Hoya, Pacquiao-Margarito, and Pacquiao-Cotto.


Marquez likes to throw his combinations from, you guessed it, a counterpuncher stance.

He has his eyes on his target, waiting for his opponent to make a move. Pawing with his right hand jab, he gauges the range at which to fight and the range at which to evade. Marquez has a counterpunch first, offense later mentality. He will wait for his opponent to over commit and then counter with a power shot, followed by a combination. He rarely initiates a lead combination like Pacquiao does. 

Don’t buy into his pre-fight declaration of being more aggressive. When the going gets rough, he’ll go back to what he does best and that’s wait for Pacquiao to make a move and look to counterpunch.

That’s why judges have been harsh on him, because he rarely starts the action. Instead, he likes to wait patiently for the fight to come to him. Marquez says he wants to be more aggressive in this fourth fight, he wants to press the action. That will be his downfall. Marquez’s best bet is to fight the way he’s fought Pacquiao all these years and hope that this time, the judges see it differently.


With both fighters dead-even dominating 3 different areas each, the fight could clearly go either way for these two archrivals. Stay tuned for Rappler’s final fight prediction. –

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