Manny Pacquiao, right, and Juan Manuel Marquez exchange punches during… (Courtesy of HBO )
For those who might yawn at the idea of Manny Pacquiao's fighting Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time Dec. 8, know that Pacquiao does not.
As a Tuesday conversation with The Times and an ensuing sparring session revealed, the Filipino superstar burns for the brawl.
“Aggressiveness is the most important thing for this fight,” Pacquiao said.
Although he has won two of the decisions -- including a victory last November that might have been the strongest performance yet by Marquez -- and had a draw, Pacquiao found motivation to erase some perceptions that have become attached to the series.
That Marquez is the smarter fighter, for one.
“Who’s smarter?” Pacquiao asked inside his Wild Card Boxing Club dressing room in Hollywood. “I believe myself. You’re going to see that in the ring. This time will be different.”
Pacquiao is banking on a style of nonstop action against his 39-year-old rival. Pacquiao assaulted a heavy bag with a flurry of punches for a long period and cracked, “Muy rapido.”
“In and out, in and out, side by side,” Pacquiao said. “Speed, hip movement. We have a Plan A and Plan B. The plans are to pressure and counter him. Move my head. A lot of work.”
Known for his power and speed, Pacquiao said he might produce his most complete display of boxing in the bout while also shedding another stigma he hasn’t been pleased to read:
That he’s on a visible career decline. His rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. has said such things, as have boxing watchers.
“I have to prove they’re wrong,” said Pacquiao, who’ll turn 34 days after the welterweight pay-per-view bout against Marquez at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “My last two or three fights have not been impressive, but guys are running and running from me after I hit them. I thought Marquez ran all night, and [Timothy] Bradley backed off.
“I’m still young and strong.”
In sparring Tuesday, Pacquiao maintained his patented power, but added an ability to slip under a punch, responding with a rapid-fire assault.
“In the past, we had a chance to get him. He’d hold his hands in front of him,” sparring partner Ray Beltran said. “Now, he’s not giving us a chance. You can see he’s mentally like ‘I’ve got to prove it against this guy for good.’ ”
One sparring partner arrived from Sweden last week, got beat up and hasn’t returned, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said.
Roach said Pacquiao has told him he expects Nevada judges to start Marquez with a 3-0 lead based on past perceived slights against the Mexican.
“If there’s a chance, I’m going to do my best to make the fight look easy,” Pacquiao said in reference to a knockout.
The bid to end Marquez sensationally is important “because of the doubt people have from their first three fights,” Roach said.
Pacquiao said he’ll fight again in April, before he’ll run unopposed for his congressional seat in the Philippines.
He’ll either finally land a long-awaited shot at Mayweather or ...
“Up to him,” Pacquiao said. “I’ve announced I’ll give him a 55-45 [purse split], no problem. What am I going to do if he doesn’t fight?”
The next best option is Oxnard’s Brandon Rios, a younger, all-action fighter.
“The first five rounds of that would be a war,” Roach said. “It’s a good fight for the fans, and the way Manny’s fighting right now, he’d have no problem with it.”