Pacquiao-Marquez fight, who will win the ultimate fight of the year?

Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will enter the ring Saturday night (Sundy in the Philippines) at the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas for the 4th and presumably final time. Their first fight in 2004 ended in a draw and Pacquiao narrowly won the rematches in 2008 and 2011. Many felt that Marquez was the winner in at least 2, if not all 3 fights.

As for Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) and Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs), their legacies require 1 more battle in the ring, a 4th fight that will give 1 a chance to finally hear his name pronounced the winner and a match that could allow the other to push aside the controversial decisions of the past.

This fight, apparently will be another huge pay check for Manny Pacquiao, who ranked No. 2 in Forbes world’s highest-paid athletes with earnings of $62 million (only fellow boxer Floyd Mayweather ranked higher). According to Forbes magazine, the 16,000-plus seats in the arena are sold out generating a gate of $10.5 million. Pacquiao is guaranteed $8.6 million for the fight, but his share of pay-per-view revenues will push his paycheck past $20 million. Marquez is guaranteed $3 million, but could snare up to $10 million with a big PPV audience.

Pacquio and Marquez’s third fight in November 2011 generated 1.3 million paperview buys and this fight is expected to easily top 1 million buys. It will be Pacquiao’s sixth fight at that level, which would tie the record set by Mike Tyson for most fights with 1 million buys (Mayweather has five fights with 1 million buys). Pacquiao still trails PPV’s Big 3 in all-time buys in Oscar De La Hoya (12.8 million), Evander Holyfield (12.6 million) and Tyson (12.4 million).

Added Forbes magazine that Pacquiao’s legacy is secure. He is boxing’s first eight-division world champion and was chosen as the Fighter of the Decade (2000s) by most governing bodies. But what happens if Pacquiao loses? It would be his third straight bad result after the 2011 controversial Marquez win and a June loss to Timothy Bradley, where most viewers thought Pacquiao was robbed. Boxing is in trouble if it loses Pacquiao as a guaranteed PPV superstar. “The market for midsize pay-per-view events has virtually disappeared because of the economy,” says Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.

Among other things, Pacquiao and Mayweather are still the 2 biggest stars in boxing, but Pacquiao will be 34 this month and the end can come quickly for boxers, as detailed in yesterday’s New York Times story “Pacquiao, Like All Boxers, Is in Fight Against Time.” De La Hoya remained a huge PPV draw at the end of his career despite alternating wins and losses for his final seven bouts. Pacquiao, of course, has interests outside of boxing, particularly in politics. He was elected as a Congressman in the Philippines in 2010 and has been bandied about as a presidential candidate when his boxing career is over. Pacquiao and his camp have talked about fighting anywhere from one to three more years.