MANILA, Philippines – Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez admitted that he is surprised to be getting a fourth shot against his greatest rival, Filipino boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao.
After their first three fights ended in controversy, Pacquiao and Marquez will meet for the fourth time on December 8 in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao took his time before deciding to fight Marquez again. The Filipino boxer was supposed to return to the ring on November 10, but the date was twice moved back, first to December 1 and then to December 8.
"I always thought that Pacquiao wouldn't fight me again," Marquez told Boxing Scene. "I was worried about it, and I was surprised he accepted the fight with me, but now I am very happy."
It was revealed that Pacquiao originally wanted a rematch with Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto, but the two camps could not agree on the weight. The Filipino champion then chose between a fourth bout against Marquez or a rematch against unbeaten American Timothy Bradley Jr.
Despite losing to Bradley in their June 9 clash, Pacquiao opted for a fourth encounter against Marquez.
The "Pacman" explained that there was no need for a rematch with Bradley, since a great majority of boxing media and fans believe he was the true winner of their bout anyway.
"Ano ba kailangang i-prove ko? In-analyze ko ang laban namin, at kitang-kita ng lahat na talagang one-sided fight," Pacquiao said last week before going to the United States.
A bout with Marquez is considered to be more risky than a rematch against Bradley, as the Mexican has given Pacquiao three of the toughest battles of his professional career.
Their last bout, a majority decision victory for Pacquiao last November, failed to put a definitive end to their saga. Though Pacquiao gained the judges' nod, many boxing pundits believe Marquez should have been the winner.
"I will train very hard for this fight," Marquez said. "Pacquiao knows me, and I know him... I thought I won the first three fights but they were close."
The Mexican said he will work on his speed for the fourth bout as he hopes for a decisive result.
"I need to add a new wrinkle in this fight and make it decisive this time," Marquez said. "Everybody will see the best Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8th."