MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao will battle his greatest rival, Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico, for a fourth time on December 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
A report from Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times cited two anonymous sources who claimed that the fight was a done deal.
"Two sources close to the negotiations, but unauthorized to speak publicly about the deal, told The Times Wednesday that Pacquiao will fight Marquez December 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas after rejecting a rematch with Timothy Bradley," Pugmire wrote.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix also cited an "industry source" saying the deal for the bout has been finalized.
Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, will officially announce the fight on September 18, Tuesday in a press conference in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Review Journal, ESPN and RingTV all reported that the fight was "almost set."
"Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring December 8, almost surely in a fourth fight against Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez," according to a report from the Las Vegas Review Journal.
ESPN's Dan Rafael reported that Arum met with the Filipino's chief adviser Michael Koncz to finalize the terms of the deal.
"We're having a meeting about Manny's next fight and to get everything finalized. My goal is to finalize the Marquez fight, but have to meet with Koncz," Arum said.
Arum confirmed to Rafael that the bout will "for sure" be held at the MGM Grand on December 8.
Pacquiao initially wanted to face Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in a rematch of their exciting scrap in 2009, which saw Pacquiao win via a 12th round technical knockout.
But the Pacquiao and Cotto camps could not agree on a catchweight, and Cotto eventually decided to stay at junior middleweight where he will challenge Austin Trout on December 1 at the Madison Square Garden.
That left Marquez and American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr as the remaining options for Pacquiao.
Bradley had defeated Pacquiao via a highly controversial split decision last June, but reports indicated that Arum was hesitant to put together a rematch because the first fight did not do particularly well in the box office.
Pacquiao's bout with Bradley only sold approximately 900,000 pay-per-view buys, a far cry from the 1.3 million buys generated by his third bout against Marquez.
But Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has admitted that he is not keen on a fourth encounter against Marquez, calling it a "very difficult fight."
Pacquiao owns a 2-0-1 win-loss-draw record against Marquez in a rivalry that stretches all the way back to 2004.
In their first encounter, Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the first round, only to see the Mexican get back up every time and rally to earn a draw.
Pacquiao won a controversial split decision in their 2008 rematch and an even more controversial majority decision in their trilogy bout in November 2011.
Many boxing analysts believe Marquez can rightfully argue that he won all three fights.
"I don't like that fight. It's just always very difficult and no matter what I tell Manny, he's tempted to go back to his old way, which isn't working," Roach told LA Times when asked about a Marquez fight.
Pacquiao will spend his entire training camp for this fight at the Wild Card Gym in California, instead of holding the first part of camp in Baguio City as he has done in previous fights.
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