By Steve Silverman
» More Columns

It’s rare that the big moments come along in boxing anymore, but when Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring with Juan Manuel Marquez tonight, it’s a moment worth savoring.

It’s rare that the big moments come along in boxing anymore, but when Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring with Juan Manuel Marquez tonight, it’s a moment worth savoring.

That’s because these two fighters give you everything they have every time they step into the ring. They have met three times and Pacquiao has a 2-0-1 edge, but don’t let that fool you. These two are about as even as two fighters can get.

It may not be Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Jake LaMotta or Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, but this series is as close as boxing has been to those kind of signature series.

Both fighters have a lot to prove tonight. Pacquiao wants to wipe away the sting of the Timothy Bradley debacle in which Pacquiao got much the best of it but somehow lost the decision. Nevada judges later admitted that Pacquiao got robbed, but the damage was already done.

Pacquiao also wants to show he can take the fight to Marquez and dominate. Pacquiao has certainly had his moments. He knocked down Marquez three times in the first round of their first fight, but he could not finish the job and the fight ended up in a draw.

Pacquiao knocked Marquez down in the second fight four years later but he could only register a split-decision win.

That’s because Marquez is a superior counter puncher who gave as good as he got. Despite falling behind early, he pushed Pacquiao to the limit once again.

In the third fight, Marquez seemed to have the best of it for a majority of the fight, but Pacquiao came on in the later rounds. He was especially effective in the 12th and final round and came away with the majority decision.

Marquez is sick and tired of facing off against Pacquiao and not coming up with the win. He looks stronger and more muscled this time around and Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has raised the possibility that Marquez is using performance-enhancing drugs to increase his strength.

Roach has backed off and said he was “kidding,” but the damage is done. He has planted the seed in the boxing world’s mind and it will remain there – at least until the public gets a chance to see Marquez in action.

The image of Marquez on PEDs may remain or disappear after the fight is over.

But this fight is about action for 12 rounds. Boxing has lost a lot of ground to mixed martial arts fighting because most bouts don’t come with the storylines of Pacquiao-Marquez and boxing doesn’t have enough fighters who leave it in the ring every time they fight.

Mixed martial arts fights are often exciting and eye-opening, but the best boxers still have the kind of skill and ability that you rarely see among the best MMA fighters.

Pacquiao is the favorite in this bout among the oddsmakers, largely because he is faster, quicker and can dictate the pace.

However, Marquez has the kind of heart that should allow him to stay in this fight for another 12 rounds.

Despite protestations of both fighters saying they are going for a knockout, look for another 12-round decision.

It should be Pacquiao once again.

Fight fans will then start clamoring for the fight they have wanted for years: Pacquiao vs. Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

Will it ever happen? It’s difficult to say since it hasn’t happened yet.

However, Pacquiao will be 34 later this month and Mayweather is 35. If this fight doesn’t happen in 2013, it won’t ever happen.

If it did happen, it would be the biggest boxing match since Mike Tyson was in his prime.

That’s a fight that would allow boxing to command center stage as it once did generations ago.

Who do you have winning tonight’s bout?  Let us know…

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