Pacquiao, Marquez in weighty confrontation


LAS VEGAS, Nevada, November 12 – Manny Pacquiao tipped the scales at 143 pounds, his lightest fighting weight in 2 1/2 years, while Juan Manuel Marquez matched his heaviest ever at 142 in Friday’s weigh-in for their third fight.

Filipino icon Pacquiao, 53-3 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, risks his 14-fight win streak and the World Boxing Organization welterweight crown on Saturday against Mexico’s Marquez, who is 53-5 with one drawn and 39 knockouts.

Marquez, a lightweight champion moving up in size, also weighed 142 pounds in his only prior welterweight fight, a 2009 loss by decision in 2009 to unbeaten US star Floyd Mayweather.

“He’s a big target,” Pacquiao said. “It’s not easy to put on more weight and maintain your speed. You get slower. My speed is going to be a problem for him.”

Marquez focused on weightlifting, risking a loss of speed in a bid to add more punching power.

“We’re going to have speed in the fight,” Marquez said. “We’re going to combine intelligence with speed.”

Marquez, who at 38 is six years older than Pacquiao, added muscle for his third fight against the Asian southpaw.

Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the first round of their first bout in 2004 at featherweight but the Mexican rallied to earn a draw.

In a 2008 super-featherweight rematch, Marquez went down in the third round but lost a decision to Pacquiao by only a single point.

“I hope the judges score what they see, not like the other two fights when they were not impartial,” Marquez said.

Pacquiao, who has not weighed below 143 pounds since knocking out Britain’s Ricky Hatton at 138 in May of 2009, has won world titles in a record eight different weight classes. Marquez seeks a world crown in his fourth division.

“I was very concerned at the beginning. I could see he was slowing down,” Marquez trainer Ignacio Beristain said. “But in the last 15 days, he has picked it up. I’m very happy with how his speed is now. He’s going to be fine.”

Pacquiao has been comfortable as he has risen in size, peaking at 150 pounds for Antonio Margarito last year with starts at 145 for Josh Clottey last year and Shane Mosley last May. “PacMan” won all three fights by decision.

“Manny had a great training camp. He’s ready,” said Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach. “When Manny puts him down this time I don’t think he’s going to be able to get up.”

Marquez’s rise in size aroused some controversy when it was revealed that his fitness coach was Angel Heredia, who supplied banned performance-enhancing drugs for now-disgraced athletics dope cheats Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery.

“I have done a clean preparation for this fight like always,” Marquez said. “I will take any test any time. That’s why anti-doping exams exist.”

Hall of Fame trainer Beristain said Marquez’s ripped physique came from hard work and proper nutrition.

“Juan would never do anything wrong,” Beristain said. “If he came to Juan with something, I know he wouldn’t take it. I know Juan well enough to know that.

“There are different ways to get a fighter very strong. We’ve done it the right way.”