MANILA, Philippines - Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez may be at his most muscular come fight night on December 8 but it is his opponent, People's Champ Manny Pacquiao, who might surprise people.
Speaking to ANC, veteran sports analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz believes Pacquiao has rekindled the fire he sorely needed in his recent fights.
"Manny in training, if you look at the video and I've talked to [conditioning coach] Alex Ariza many times, he said [Pacquiao] is incredibly fast. He's amazing. His handspeed is there and what the nicest thing about it is - the fire within him has rekindled. Yun ang importante," he told ANC.
Nathanielsz said evidence that the old Manny Pacquiao is back can be seen in how he has punished his sparring partners. He said the Pacman has knocked down 4 sparring partners during training camp, something he never did before.
He also noted that after the knockdowns, Pacquiao would continue to be aggressive and go after his sparring partners even more.
"It means he is determined to take Marquez out. Now whether he can do it is another question," he said.
The veteran sports analyst admitted he took flak when he said that Marquez had won his last fight against Pacquiao, despite the latter's victory. He said that after that fight, Pacquiao cleaned himself up and got rid of his vices.
"The last fight, forget it, Pacquiao had too many personal problems that got in the way of his fight. Now, that's all gone. He was into bible study. Last time, he had bible study but he didn't overdo it. Ibig sabihin he concentrated and focused on training for his fight. It is the most important fight of his life," he said.
He also said the upcoming bout will continue to be a challenge since Marquez had clearly bulked up for the fight.
"Marquez is toned up, he's muscular now. He's put on weight. He's very, very strong. But I think putting on muscle and putting on weight you slow down and I think that's the advantage of Manny Pacquiao: his speed," he said.
He also noted that Marquez looked slow in his victory against Ukranian contender Serhiy Fedchenko earlier this year.
In the end, he said the fight will again be a test of wills between Pacquiao and Marquez.
“Pacquiao has gone back to the Pacquiao that fought Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Oscar dela Hoya. Pacquiao is going to be at his best. Marquez may be at his strongest but not necessarily at his best because he’ll be slow,” he said.
ANC Headstart, December 7, 2012