By Kieran Mulvaney
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez is confident his style will be the significant factor but Manny Pacquiao believes his own improved technique will decide the outcome when the two boxers clash at the MGM Grand Saturday.
"They always say that styles make fights, and I think my style happens to be difficult," Marquez told reporters while preparing for their scheduled 12-round bout.
"All boxers have a difficult opponent, and I guess my style is the most difficult for Pacquiao."
Marquez was knocked down three times in the opening round of their first fight in May 2004, but he recovered strongly to earn a draw.
However, Marquez has repeatedly claimed he won both contests and Pacquiao felt insulted after his opponent wore a T-shirt bearing the legend: "We Were Robbed" when their November 12 showdown was promoted in the Philippines.
"This fight is really important to me because there's that issue, the claims that he won the last two fights, and that's why I'm very motivated with my training," Pacquiao said.
The Filipino southpaw has also warned Marquez that, if he expects to meet the same opponent in the ring that he faced in their two previous fights, he will be in for a surprise.
"I'm more improved right now, compared to three years ago, four years ago," said Pacquiao, who has a career record of 53-3-2 with 38 knockouts.
"I'm more experienced, especially in my strategy and techniques. I'm more improved in (throwing) my right hand, my movement side to side, and my timing."
Marquez, 53-5-1 (39 KOs), acknowledged the improvements in Pacquiao's technique but said he was unconcerned.
"He uses his right hand more, he has a little more speed, but obviously I know all of that, so I've adjusted my work to that. My strategy is to nullify all of that."
Perhaps the biggest factor Saturday is size.
The first two bouts between the duo took place at featherweight and super-featherweight.
Marquez has hired a strength and conditioning coach to bulk up to the extra weight for Saturday's showdown, a decision that has Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, licking his lips in anticipation.
"Let's face it, when you put muscle on, you put muscle on for one reason, and that's to exchange (punches). I like that," Roach said. "If he (Marquez) wants to exchange with us, I think that's great.
"He's getting ready for a big fight. He used to be a pinpoint counter-puncher and I think the muscles are going to hurt his counter-punching but will help in the strength area.
"This will be the best of the three fights with the way both these guys are getting ready."
(Editing by Patrick Johnston/Mark Lamport-Stokes)