Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez’ mountain of muscle

Friday afternoon Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez stepped on the scale in Las Vegas, bringing us a step closer to (what we hope is) the final chapter in their career-defining series, and tying together several compelling storylines that have developed in the eight years since they first fought.

Can Marquez ever get a fair decision?

Can Pacquiao rekindle his aggressiveness while also solving Marquez’ counterpunching style?

And can anyone make sense of Marquez’ muscles?

Friday afternoon he removed his sweats to reveal a physique that could double as a suit of armour, and handed Pacquiao a rare loss in the pre-fight posedown.

In an era when every sports fan’s steroid radar is cranked up to 10, the puzzle of Marquez’ muscles seems easy to solve with a little arithmetic.

Late 30s athlete + a trainer with a shady past + a brand new mini Hercules physique = Steroids.

I doesn’t take Bob Beamon to leap to that conclusion. Three years ago Marquez thought drinking his own urine helped him recover between workouts, and now he’s muscular enough to make Pacquiao appear a touch soft by contrast.

It’s gotta be steroids right?


Not so fast.

Tempting as it is to lob steroid accusations at Marquez as he heads into one more showdown with Pacquiao, there are some common-sense reasons to hold your fire.


I repeat this fact not to gross you out but to provide you with a window in to the attitude Marquez held toward training, recovery and nutrition for at least the first 16 years of his pro boxing career. It’s pretty self-evident that the guy who thinks drinking urine will help him recover from training is at a competitive disadvantage compared to the guy who recovers with…well… anything other than urine.

If you train every day but switch from whey protein to hemp protein, you’ll see a difference in your physique. Same thing happens if you trade oatmeal for steel-cut oats.


So if Marquez ditches his post-workout glass of piss in favour of something with protein and carbs it makes perfect sense that his post-workout recovery will improve, as will the quality of his muscle. And if he trades a stone-age conditioning regimen for something more modern — like plyometrics… same stuff that helped transform Pacquiao’s build — then adding a few new layers of muscle is absolutely reasonable.

Even at 39.


I’m not sure how to answer that question.

None of us is wrong to raise an eyebrow at Angel “Memo” Hernandez’ presence in camp.  Nobody likes a drug cheat. Nobody likes a snitch.

Hernandez has been both, helping oversee the doping programs of athletes like Marion Jones and later earning immunity by testifying against disgraced coach Trevor Graham and others.

But I can’t say any of that equals cheating with Marquez until I figure out what makes Hernandez different from his former BALCO colleague Victor Conte, who has managed to work with several high profile fighters without arousing suspicions of doping.

When was the last time anybody attributed Andre Ward’s dominance to steroids?

If we can believe Conte has gone clean, and can offer athletes valuable expertise that has nothing to do with doping, why can’t we believe the same about Hernandez?

I’m not saying we have to.

Just wondering why we can’t.



Three years ago Floyd Mayweather implied incessantly Pacquiao’s transformation from wispy flyweight to power-punching welterweight owed to performance-enhancing drug use, and Pacquiao’s camp responded by filing a defamation suit.

Team Pacquiao has always maintained that Manny has relied on nothing more sinister than hard work, advanced training and a high-calorie diet to add slabs of muscle to his 5-foot-6 frame. And as we discussed above, the explanation is completely reasonable when dealing with people who need to stay fit for a living.

So you’d think that when steroid innuendo first started flying Marquez’ way Pacquiao’s camp, familiar with the sting of baseless accusations, would have pleaded for understanding, pointing to their man as an example of steroid-free improvement.

And you’d have thought wrong.

“If [his body] is natural, I will kiss his ass,” Roach told USA Today. “[Marquez] has gotten bigger and gained weight — it throws up a red flag. I’ve been accused so many times of my fighters being on steroids (that) I hate to accuse other people. But it is part of our life, part of the world we live in.”

For all of team Pacquiao’s strengths, empathy clearly isn’t one of them.

But if you’re trying to be objective it’s pretty clear.

Either it’s fair to accuse Pacquiao of doping for adding so much muscle late in his career, or its unfair to label Marquez a cheater for doing the same.

But it can’t be both.

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7 Responses to “Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez’ mountain of muscle”
  1. O says:

    The 24/7 does make it seem like Marquez is a fitness fanatic so a transformation could be do in a ” clean way”. bottom line is I need to find the British feed for this fight for objective commentary tonight thats for sure.

  2. HA! I’ve lived with HBO this far, so I’ll stick with them till the end…

  3. Zach says:

    With respect, I think the presence of ‘Memo’ casts a greater shadow over JMM than the words of Floyd Mayweather casts over Manny. But as far as I’m concerned – until there is a positive test- it’s all completely explainable. Perhaps part of you wrote this in anticipation of-following a Manny loss- a chorus of -“well, just look at JMM, hes clearly juicing!”. That would be a reaction (on the part of said fans ) as lazy as the baseless ( to this point ) accusations of PED usage by Manny.
    When considering reasons for Mannys victories- detractors offer up two factors they believe to mitigate his success. One being the specter of PED usage, the other being that he is entering the ring at a weight he walks around at, versus his opponent who has been struggling to make weight and is far less than his best self. I would argue you cant have it both ways. I have always seen the advantage gained by Manny in the latter- Cotto, DeLaHoya, Hatton, Margarito, etc. whereas connecting victories to a supposed strength advantage aided by steroids (to me) would be to almost devalue the accuracy and activity that are components of Mannys wins.
    I feel like this one might get bloody. Enjoy it man. Great blog as always.

  4. Ivan Montiel says:

    I sure hope this is the final chapter because really how many times more do we have to see Marquez beat Pacquiao? This time around Marquez sure got a fair decision. Pacquiao couldn’t and won’t ever figure out Marquez counter punching. Marquez is a technical smart experienced strong fighter/boxer meanwhile Pacquiao is just a strong aggressive puncher. In boxing usually the boxer will beat the puncher.

    In regards to Marquez’s muscles he just worked harder for this fight. After being robbed 3 times Marquez knew he had to work like never before. Marquez did the right kind of training by building more muscle so that he could KO Pacquiao.

    Roach and the millions of Pacquiao fanatics make me laugh at the way they are accusing Marquez of being on steroids. When Mayweather accused Pacquiao of using steroids Roach and the entire country of the Philipines began to cry yet it’s okay to accuse Marquez? I strongly believe the reason why Roach and these hardcore Pacquiao fans accused Marquez was simply because they knew Pacquiao was going to lose. They knew what was coming and that KO came alright! All you have to do is look at the weigh-in, Marquez had that fire in his eyes! This fight meant a lot more to Marquez than it meant to Pacquiao who had been given the past 3 fights.

    I say with this KO victory there is no more to prove! Marquez beat and most likely sent Pacquiao into retirement.

    I wonder where does Roach go from here on after having a bad year 2012. All of his stars have lost.

  5. gonzalez says:

    see manny how he post his body.. and marquez without effort to show.. still big isn’t it.

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  1. […] isn’t to suggest Marquez is doping. As we discussed last time, there are plenty of holes in the Maquez-is-on-steroids theory, and anybody willing to convict Marquez based on circumstantial evidence and leaps in logic better […]

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