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Will Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez Join the Family of Elite Trilogies?

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When Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez lace 'em up on Saturday, November 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, it will be their third encounter. The first two battles were epic wars. How will the third one fair?

At face value, this fight seems like a Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KO) showcase. Most experts seem to think Manny will have little difficulty with Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KO) - a guy who some believe should have won their first two fights.

Their first battle ended in a draw while the second was split in Manny's favor. While both fights could have conceivably gone either way, a strong argument can be made Marquez deserved the nod in both bouts by razor thin margins.

How one-sided does the boxing world think Pacquiao vs Marquez III will be this time around?

In defending the selection of Shane Mosley as a suitable opponent, consensus among insiders was Marquez could no longer fight competitively with Pacquiao. They echoed, "Why would anyone want to see that fight?"  And today, most people still believe Marquez will be easy pickens for Manny this time around.

So why, now, do most believe Manny will overwhelm the proud Mexican boxer?

Is it the added weight? Perhaps its Pacquiao's improved skills and power since their last meeting? And maybe its Marquez's age and perceived decline? Or is it all the above?

When fans think of boxing's legendary trilogies we often summon Ali vs Fraizer, Bowe vs Holyfield, Gatti vs Ward and Barrera vs Morales. On those nights, boxing stood tall and transcended to the mainstream. All of those fights were special and, with the exception of the second Ali-Smokin' Joe fight, all were extraordinarily exciting and intensely competitive.

Will Pacquiao and Marquez join the ranks of those special 'fight sagas' Saturday night or will it become one of the forgotten trilogies?

Two Forgotten Trilogies
Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Willie "The Worm" Monroe

Their first fight took place on March 9th, 1976 in Philadelphia with the local fighter, Monroe, winning a decision after ten rounds. While there is no footage of this fight, most written accounts confirm Monroe won legitimately, making it the only time someone bested the Marvelous One "for real." In their rematch the following year, which is also devoid of video footage, the local fighter won again - But this time, the fight took place in Boston and Hagler was awarded a 12th Round stoppage on his turf.

The third fight between Hagler and Monroe was staged in Philadelphia again and a vastly improved Hagler dispatched his foe in two rounds. This trilogy will never get mainstream attention because two of the three fights were not captured on film and their third fight lacked the competitive nature of their first two meetings. However, it is a trilogy that bears significance and is certainly worth mentioning.

Greg Haugen vs. Vinny Pazienza
Although footage exists for all three of their fights, not many boxing fans discuss of this trilogy even though it was quite good.

The first two battles were for a legitimate lightweight title and both went fifteen rounds. The 'Pazmanian Devil' won their first encounter while Haugen took the second. Both fights were exciting and very close.

Pazienza and Haugen shared a genuine dislike for each other and the 'bad blood' intensified with each encounter. When they met for the third and final time, the fight fans expected a toe-to-toe exchange in a battle for the ages. What happened, instead, was the birth of a new Pazienza. The Rhode Island native showcased some new wrinkles, most notably lateral movement.  A frustrated Haugen had no answer and Pazienza cruised to an easy, not-so-close unanimous decision.

While Pazienza vs Haugen is not be revered as an all-time great trilogy due to the one-sidedness of their final encounter, it should be watched, referenced and discussed more often.  

How Will Pacquiao vs Marquez be Categorized?
By the third fight of their respective trilogies, Marvin Hagler and Vinny Pazienza had vastly improved and were simply on a higher skill level than their opponents.  Will Pacquiao or Marquez display any new wrinkles that will ultimately and decisively separate them from their opponent - Or, like Ward vs Gatti, will their third meeting be business as usual... an all out war?

Years from now we'll be discussing the Pacquiao-Marquez 'fight saga' in the same breath with Ali vs Frazier and Holyfield vs Bowe because Saturday's fight will be one for the ages. 

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