LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao acts as though it's personal, then claims it's not. Just another night in the ring, another notch on his belt and another $25 million or so to take back to the Philippines.
It's not that easy for Juan Manuel Marquez. He remains convinced he won both of his previous two fights with Pacquiao, and he will enter the ring tonight as eager for redemption as he is to claim the biggest payday of his long career.
"I hope the judges score what they see, not like the other two fights when they were not impartial," Marquez says.
Marquez has bulked up for the 144-pound fight so he can bring more power into the ring, and Pacquiao, who knocked Marquez down four times in their two fights, is a far more potent puncher than the last time they met three years ago.
Add in the fact these two fighters throw punches almost nonstop, and there's potential for an early ending.
Pacquiao returns to the ring for the first time since he beat Shane Mosley in May. He and Marquez have already gone 24 rounds with each other, rounds so close that judges had trouble figuring out which fighter won.
But the first fight seven years ago was at 125 pounds. The second four years later was at 130.
This one will be for a piece of the welterweight title, though it will be at a catch weight of 144. It's a weight Pacquiao has proven comfortable with the past few years, but Marquez had no success the only time he got past 140 in a lopsided loss to Floyd Mayweather.
"At 144 pounds it's going to be different," said Pacquiao, a 7-1 favorite. "I've improved my boxing and my power."
Pacquiao weighed in at 143 pounds Friday, while Marquez was 142, the same weight he fought at against Mayweather.
Pacquiao, who last lost in 2005 at 130 pounds, risks a 14-fight winning streak against Marquez, a Mexican who has held titles in three different weight classes.
That the first fight was scored a draw and the second a split decision for Pacquiao still gnaws at Marquez, who wore a T-shirt proclaiming he was robbed in both fights when the two boxers were in the Philippines promoting the bout.
That touched a nerve in Pacquiao, though he said there is nothing personal between them. Still, trainer Freddie Roach said there was an added urgency to Pacquiao's training. "I think it was a slap in the face to Manny," Roach said. "They were both good, close fights, but there were no robberies there."