Juan Manuel Marquez: Too Little; Raphael Marquez: Too Much: Losing The Biggest Fight of My Life

Pacquiao marquezMichael Herron (M.I.C), photo by Naoki Fukuda: The phrase “biggest fight of my life” is overused in prize fighting; however, it could not have been truer for the Marquez brothers, Juan Manuel and Raphael. March, 2008 saw each engage in career defining fights. Raphael completed his historic trilogy against super-bantamweight champion Israel Vasquez; and in their long-awaited rematch, Juan Manuel battled Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao. Both fights surpassed expectations and each will make a case for “Fight of the Year.” Though Juan and Raphael fought like champions, neither of them emerged victorious. Perhaps against their respective opponents, one brother may have given too little, and the other, too much.

Too little and too much refer to aggression. Against Vasquez, I believe Raphael was too aggressive; and against Pacquiao, Juan was not aggressive enough. To put it another way, Raphael fought where he should have boxed; and Juan boxed where he should have fought. Raphael started the contest boxing beautifully, but would lose discipline whenever Vasquez closed distance.. Because of the power deficit, Raphael could not afford to trade with Vasquez; yet that was the story of the final six rounds. As if by impulse, Marquez engaged in the violent brawl that Vasquez initiated; the consequences led to defeat.

Juan Manuel, though a gifted counterpuncher and technical boxer, spent too much time counterpunching and technically boxing! At some point during the fight, Juan should have taken the lead, forced the action, and put Pacquiao on the defensive. In fact, it is when he pressed the action that he performed best. Marquez proved that he could break Pacquiao’s defense when he was aggressive; but perhaps by habit, he resorted to his comfort zone of counterpunching and defending. This decision allowed Pacquiao to be the clear aggressor and overall ring general. There are points to be awarded to fighters viewed as initiating contact, or as it’s called, “making the fight.”

Many observers, however, view the knockdowns as the chief determining factor in both fights. While technically true considering the one point split-decisions, the aggressive energy, and lack thereof, clearly favored the victors. Vasquez and Pacquiao retained the impression that they were but a punch away from victory; as if the knockout could come at any moment. This ominous nature of the struggle, in addition to the knockdowns, likely provided a crucial edge in scoring close rounds. Consequently, by not doing too little, like Juan Manuel; or regretfully doing too much, like Raphael; Pacquiao and Vasquez did just enough to win the “biggest fight of their lives.”

Writer’s note: Though this is a critique, all four combatants deserve praise for a job well done.

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Article posted on 18.03.2008

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