LAS VEGAS — The fact they’re much bigger than when they first met eight years ago is undeniable. Both Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have added bulk along with the pounds, and both have had to deal with those who suspect they didn’t do it naturally.
Along with the fighters, the purses and attention have grown as Pacquiao and Marquez meet Saturday night for the fourth — and presumably last — time in the rivalry that has served both fighters so well.
Marquez will try once again to do what he hasn’t been able to do in 36 evenly contested rounds against Pacquiao — get a decision from the ringside scorecards.
At the age of 39, it’s a fight that may mean more to his legacy than his future career, which is why it’s a fight he seems almost desperate to win.
‘‘All I ask is for the judges to be objective,’’ Marquez said. ‘‘They need to really see what is happening in the ring instead of what they think might be happening in the ring.’’
Pacquiao is not as desperate, but he needs a win just as badly. He barely escaped with a majority decision over Marquez last November — a result that drew loud boos from the pro-Marquez crowd — and lost a widely panned decision to Timothy Bradley his last time out.
A loss to Marquez would not only confirm the whispers that he is slipping after 17 years as a pro, but perhaps derail for good any talk of a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. that would be boxing’s richest ever.
Neither fighter holds a title. as they meet in a welterweight fight. Pacquiao weighed in at the welterweight class limit of 147 pounds Friday; Marquez was 143 pounds.
If the old rules of boxing applied, Pacquiao should be fighting Bradley for the welterweight title he lost in June. But Bradley doesn’t sell pay-per-views and Marquez does, so he’s on the sidelines as Pacquiao and the Mexican opponent he knows so well battle for riches instead of a crown.