Marquez And Pacquiao Headed Towards A Rematch

marquez05.11.07 - By Matthew Hurley, photo by Naoki Fukuda - In the wake of Juan Manuel Marquez’s decisive decision victory over Rocky Juarez for the World Boxing Council super featherweight title Manny Pacquiao all but called out his last remaining Mexican rival. According to the Philippine Star Pacquiao was quoted as saying, “I can take him easily.”

Pacquiao and Marquez battled to a memorable draw in 2004 in which Manny decked Marquez three times in the first round. Marquez then gamely fought back in the early rounds before establishing a stinging jab and boxing skills that kept the onrushing Pacquiao at bay. The fight was as close as the scorecards indicated but one judge scored the first round 10-7 instead of 10-6, which pulled all three judges cards into a dead heat. A rematch seemed imminent but Marquez’s manager and trainer Nacho Beristain demanded too much money for a return bout and Pacquiao instead opted for a mega-fight with Erik Morales.

The first Morales bout signaled the beginning of one of the decade’s great boxing trilogies. Meanwhile Marquez flew to Indonesia to take on Chris John for the WBA featherweight title for chump change and lost what many called a hometown decision. It seemed that once again Marquez had disappeared into the shadows and his manager seemed to be the one to blame.

But Marquez persevered, altering his style into a more crowd pleasingly aggressive boxer-puncher approach. His newfound resolve to become the true third peg in the Mexican duo of Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera began with Terdsak Jandaeng who he stopped in the seventh round. His elevation in the pound for pound rankings became official when he decisioned Barrera for the WBC super featherweight title in March of this year. Pacquiao then went on to decision Barrera in their rematch, retiring the Mexican icon and it seemed that the only appropriate fight to be made at super featherweight would be the long awaited rematch between Marquez and Pacquiao.

After decisioning Juarez by scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111 Marquez left little doubt as to his future intentions. “I had great preparation for this fight,” he said. “I have worked very hard for four months and now I want Manny Pacquiao, but he doesn’t want to fight me.”

Marquez’s comment was tongue-in-cheek but it also revealed an intense desire to not let his career stall again. He’s too old now not to clamor noisily for the only fight that could propel him into the boxing hall of fame. He has always been a much-appreciated technical boxer by insiders and writers, but his fan base has never approached that of Morales or Barrera because his style often led to dreary bouts. He often seemed uninspired, particularly when he lost a decision to Freddie Norwood in 1999 for the WBA featherweight title – a fight that could have propelled him into an eventual match with either of his two Mexican rivals.

But Marquez has aged well and in losing a step in terms of speed it has altered his style just enough to make him utterly compelling to watch. The craftsmanship is still there but the fire in the belly is now burning with a searing intensity. A rematch with Pacquiao is an absolute must for both fighters in order to determine who is truly superior and for fans who are now salivating over this potential rematch.

Pacquiao apparently found nothing in Marquez’s performance to cause him concern. In fact he seems downright unimpressed with such a dominant performance. He found it telling that Marquez couldn’t take out the smaller Juarez. However, despite his deficiencies and one-gear attack, Juarez has always shown a rock solid chin so even before the bout most observers were looking for a distance fight.

Although there are several avenues open to both fighters the road that they will probably choose to go down will lead to each other. If Pacquiao decides not to jump to the lightweight division to take on proposed opponent David Diaz look for him and Marquez to settle their dispute in the ring in 2008.

Article posted on 05.11.2007

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