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Juan Manuel Marquez: In search of the holy "grain"

Juan Manuel Marquez during the official weigh-in for his fourth fight against Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 7, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Juan Manuel Marquez during the official weigh-in for his fourth fight against Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 7, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

If we want to understand Juan Manuel Marquez's mentality as a fighter, we only need to look back in all the things that he did and the discipline that goes with them so that he can acquire "that little grain of difference" against his opponents.

And there is no other fighter that can make Juan Manuel Marquez shift into overdrive in preparation for a fight than Manny Pacquiao. He engaged the Filipino superstar in three brutal wars that could have gone either way, but he ended up on the losing end twice (2008, 2011) and managed to eke out a draw in one (2004).

And there is no other topic that can make Juan Manuel Marquez's blood curdle than the mention of his defeats to Manny Pacquiao. His setbacks to the Filipino fighter are what drive him to prepare harder and resort to unconventional methods just so he can have even the slightest edge over his nemesis.

Yes, in the mind of Juan Manuel Marquez, he believed that he has won all three of their fights, a belief that only adds fuel to his desire to finally get one over Manny Pacquiao. And tonight he will have his chance to finally end years of frustration, quiet all his detractors and unburden him of the weights on his shoulders.

Juan Manuel Marquez's desperation bordering to obsession to finally beat Manny Pacquiao is one for the books; because of his unconventional approach in his quest for boxing's holy grail, Juan Manuel Marquez at one time or another has become the butt of jokes among fans and fighters alike.

After all, nobody in the boxing world has the mental toughness and intestinal fortitude that Juan Manuel Marquez has exhibited in preparation for a fight. His burning desire to have that wee-bit of an advantage once led him to drinking his own urine to no avail.

Juan Manuel Marquez has never shied away from using both traditional and new technology to enhance his chances of winning a fight. He uses the hyperbaric chamber to breathe 100% pure oxygen and has also incorporated 'cupping therapy' in his regimen to relax his 39-year old body.

And that search for "that little grain of difference" found him hooking up with Angel "Memo" Heredia, a trainer with a dark and shady past who once bragged in a 2009 interview that modern day testing for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sports is 'laughable' -- Juan Manuel Marquez has made what many boxing observers believed to be a pact with the devil.

So, Juan Manuel Marquez with Angel "Memo" Heredia overseeing his strength and conditioning training has transformed himself into a hulking, muscular, well-chiseled specimen. He professes that he feels good and is ready to engage Manny Pacquiao in a no-holds-barred fight. He proclaims that his hard work and his new-found strength and speed will make the big difference in the fight. And he also vows that he will go for a knockout against Manny Pacquiao this time around.

But whether Juan Manuel Marquez has really found 'that little grain of difference' with Memo Heredia in his corner for this fight remains to be seen. Juan Manuel Marquez will still need to go out there and prove his mettle against Manny Pacquiao to earn the nod of the boxing public. Juan Manuel Marquez needs to commit and take the fight to Manny Pacquiao to show the judges who is in charge inside the ring. As they usually say, a warrior does not waste his time waiting for the enemy to commit mistakes and good fortune always favors the brave.

Tonight, a victory by Juan Manuel Marquez will be a vindication of his long quest and the road that he has taken for that elusive 'W' against Manny Pacquiao. But another defeat in the hands of his traditional nemesis will not only be devastating but a bitter pill to swallow for the fighter from Mexico.

So, what would Juan Manuel Marquez do?

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