Didn’t Juan Manuel Marquez Used To Hate Manny Pacquiao?

Italian novelist Italo Calvino once wrote that life pulls us toward decay and finally death. Well, so do pre-fight bromances.

If the old saw says fighters should not have sex thirty days (or is it six months?) before a fight, the same rule really ought to apply to getting treacly with one’s opponent within the same pre-fight window. That’s why I’m worried for Juan Manuel Marquez. And it’s why I’m beginning to think Manny Pacquiao — or Freddie Roach — is using some kind of arachnoid pre-fight strategy that involves wooing the victim before eating him.

Look at the last few days: We’ve seen what I can only call an adorable contretemps in which Manny interviewed Juan Manuel on camera for CBS about their Nov. 12 welterweight fight, prompting one reporter to complain that they were being too nice to each other. I think the cockles of my heart began to overheat, but maybe that was heartburn. Then there’s the above appearance together on a TV Azteca show, where Manny sang “Imagine” with the sweetness of a boys choir soloist and Juan Manuel stood by with an odd expression of chagrin and an awkward deportment suggesting he JUST MAY have been getting a little hetero-stiffy from the experience. I know I was.

Because it’s heartwarming to see that its possible for two real men to act respectful toward each other, and all that, before they throw punches. But memento mori Juan Manuel: what happened the last time Manny gave his victim the kiss of respect? Nothing. While it is always strangely heartwarming to see fighters singing together, interviewing each other, loving up each other’s national cultures, people, icons, you name it, I’m now wary. Shane Mosley and Manny all but made love before they fought. And once they got in the ring about the only action was when they touched gloves.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.