WHEN you get right down to it, it doesn't really matter that Juan Manuel Marquez is from Mexico and Manny Pacquiao is from the Philippines and their respective countries view their rematch tomorrow night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas as some kind of statement of national supremacy.

Truth is, what makes this pay-per-view matchup worth the $49.95 fee is the competitive fire that burns within both men who were left frustrated when their first fight ended in an unsatisfying draw. That was four years ago on a night when Marquez overcame three knock downs in the first round to dominate three-quarters of the exciting bout. Both want to prove they are the superior boxer when the two meet again for Marquez's WBC super featherweight title.

"Pacquiao-Marquez I epitomized the best of the sport of boxing Ultimate-Fighting-Championship and on anyone's list they are among the best pound-for-pound in the sport," Mark Taffet, HBO's pay-per-view boss, said. "These two guys carry a nation on their shoulders and that's what makes it even more special. We know we are going to have a great fight and one that will be remembered for years to come."

Certainly, their first fight is memorable. Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in the first round, all the damage done with a straight left-hand from the hard-punching southpaw. Marquez weathered the round and quickly figured out how to elude the left-hand. From there he used his counter-punching skills to out-box Pacquiao the rest of the fight.

"I went down three times, but I got up because of the great condition that I was in at the time," Marquez (48-3-1, 35 KOs) said. "But it's been four years. Manny Pacquiao became better. I have become better. It's going to be a totally different fight. It's going to be a great fight."

Pacquiao (45-3-2, 35 KOs) was regarded as a one-handed fighter then, but under trainer Freddie Roach he has added a dangerous right-hand while sharpening his overall skills. "He's a much more complete fighter now and he's stronger," Roach said.

After his draw with Marquez in 2004, Pacquiao went on to several big-money bouts, winning two in his trilogy with Erik Morales and out-pointing Marco Antonio Barrera last October. Marquez wound up losing his titles in a low-paying fight in Indonesia, but resurrected his career with wins over Barrera and Rocky Juarez.

"I'm expecting Marquez at his 100 percent best," Pacquiao said. "He's hungry for a victory in this fight because he's the only Mexican left who has a chance to beat me. He wants to make a name by beating me. I won't let him do that."

Both men have trained tremendously hard for the bout. Pacquiao has spent two months at Roach's wild-card gym in Hollywood, while Marquez has brutalized his body on the high mountains of Mexico. "You could put these guys in the ring 10 times and you'll always have a great fight," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.

Prediction: Marquez by split decision.

Meanwhile, undefeated James Moore(14-0, 10 KOs), a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, who fights out of Queens, faces J.C. Candelo (27-9-4, 18 KOs) of Colombia in the 10-round main event tomorrow night in a pre-St. Patrick's Day boxing card at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

In the co-feature, New York junior middleweight Pawel "Raging Bull" Wolak (19-0, 13 KOs) of Poland squares off against Dupre "Total Package" Strickland (18-2-1, 7 KOs) of Shreveport, La.

In addition to boxing, live Irish music will be performed by the band "Big Girl's Blouse."

Tickets, ranging from $50 to $400, can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 866-448-7849 or by calling Celtic Gloves at 917-559-8467 or Gleason's Gym at 718-797-2872.



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Juler on March 18, 2008 said...

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♥♥♥ on March 18, 2008 said...

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