One classic series will come to an end Saturday night as another aims to crack the mainstream. On the face of it, the only similarity between Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez III and UFC on FOX is that they involved hand-to-hand combat. There’s more to it than just two different pugilistic events.
Pacquiao v Marquez has always been one for the ages since they first faced off in 2004. They’re two unique fighters that doggedly fight back when in the doldrums and can be most dangerous when you’re not expecting it. Has there been another time when a man has been down three times in the first round and still managed to battle back for a draw?
Marquez achieved this in the 2004 bout and survived the sea of lefts that Pac-Man brings to the table. 2008 was the second classic and again Marquez bit the canvas early on (this time in round three). Mexico’s finest managed to use Manny’s aggression to his advantage and after 24 rounds they’re only separates by one point.
The fight is one bettors will have marked down in their calendars since it was announced and the advent of in-play betting makes it more attractive than ever. We don’t want to get you too hard with the prospect that this will outshine the previous two bouts. The betting will make it all the more exciting though. The creaking frame of a 38-year-old Marquez could bow under the pressure but I’ll give him until at least round nine or even ten. Pacquiao to win in rounds 1-3 at 9/2 also looks nailed on and is generous. It may signal the end of Marquez’s career as Pac-Man looks for a super-fight with Mayweather next year.
Elsewhere on the same night a well-known brand is looking to pick up audience where it has never tried before. UFC on FOX is the first time that a heavyweight fight has been shown on Network TV and a market that president Dana White wants to build on.
Unbeaten champion Cain Velesquez takes on challenger Junior Dos Santos in Anaheim. For the first time it will be screened for one hour on FOX, with the undercard transmitted on FOX.com. It precedes a seven-year-deal starting in January that will see four annual shows on FOX as well as a show every Friday on FX. It’s a change of tack for UFC, which is a brand that couldn’t get anywhere to start off with due to its controversial image.
White commented: “If you look at where we came from, our goal (once) was to get on free TV when we weren’t allowed on pay-per-view. Porn was, but we weren’t. We’ve come such a long way.”
UFC loses around $40million by not having the fight on pay-per-view. It’s a good sacrifice to make as in the long term the extent their fan base will grow due to this move is enough in itself to justify it.