Jim Lampley will be at the HBO announce table tonight for the fourth fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. Lampley has been right there ringside for the first three meetings as well, calling all the action and drama of this legendary series of fights that started eight years and more than twenty pounds ago for the fighters.
Lampley had a few moments to talk to Austin Schindel of XFINITY Sports about this rivalry's place in boxing history (transcriptions by Bad Left Hook):
It's a very important rivalry. These have been 36 great rounds. I wouldn't put it at the level of violent intensity of, say, Gatti-Ward or Barrera-Morales. Even Bowe-Holyfield was a more violent trilogy than this has been. But it's been a tremendous showcase for two really great and valiant fighters who are so similar and so equal in their records, that they really could have been twin brothers. If you look at the numbers, it's just astonishing to see who these people are. One has 60 fights, the other has 61 fights, they've both won 54. One has 38 knockouts, the other has 39 knockouts. One has a longest knockout streak of 15, the other has a longest knockout streak of 16. They are practically the same fighter in terms of their numbers. To have seen them face-to-face, to see their competing and complementary styles, to see judges try to deal with that -- I'll always say the first fight is the greatest scoring clinic of all-time. Three dramatically different scorecards, each with a logical rationale. It's been an important trilogy, and as a four-fight series, it'll go on the list of the eight or ten most important four-fight series ever. And I've been very privileged to be able to call all those rounds.
Jim also got all kinds of romantic (in the best way) about what makes prizefighting unique among sports:
Personal confrontational psychology, The Olympics is about national teams and individuals, but they don't face each other face-to-face. There are only two sports where you face each other face-to-face, and all of your physical and psychological attributes are visible and available for the audience to recognize. One is tennis, and in tennis, you don't hit each other. The other is boxing. That's what sets boxing apart, that's what makes boxing so compelling for audiences all around the world. You don't need to know all the sophisticated nuances of the difference between Marquez the counter puncher and Pacquiao the puncher to understand what it means that these two guys are going to stand a couple feet from each other, they're gonna smell each other's breath, they're gonna taste each other's sweat and blood, they're gonna share with each other in a way that nobody else can share with them. They're gonna leave there knowing more about each other than anybody knows about them, even their wives. Only boxing produces that kind of drama.
You can follow all of our Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4 fight week coverage right here, or you can follow the tremendous SB Nation boxing blog Bad Left Hook for their in depth coverage.