Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz - Who Wins And How?

Juan Manuel Marquezby James Slater - A potentially sensational lightweight bout takes place on February 28th in Houston, Texas - the hometown of one of the fighters involved in the match-up. Local man Juan Diaz will face Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez and much will be on the line for both men. For the younger man in Diaz - a mere 25 years of age, when Marquez is a veteran at 35 - the fight will present him with the chance to reclaim his status as the world's very best lightweight.

Before losing for the one and only time in his career, to underdog Nate Campbell back in March of 2008, via a hard fought split decision, "The Baby Bull" was widely recognised as the best 135-pound fighter out there. An all-action warrior who loves to rumble, Diaz was not expected to lose to "The Galaxxy Warrior." But he did, and he took his lumps like a man in doing so. Bouncing back to beat the always-tough Australian Michael Katsidis six months after losing his IBF, WBA and WBO belts, Diaz won clearly in most eyes, despite the September bout being scored as only a split decision in his favour. Picking up the lightly regarded IBO 135-pound strap along with his comeback win, Diaz now looks to take the much more highly respected Ring magazine belt currently held by "Dinamita."

A win over the man who pushed reigning pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao so hard the debate goes on as to who won their two great fights, would once again make Diaz, 34-1(17) the best in the sport in his weight class. It will be some tall order, though. Marquez, though 35, is a special fighter indeed. Though he too had one win and one loss last year, his 2008 was still a fine one. In the same month Diaz was losing his titles to Campbell, the Mexican master was pushing "Pac-Man" to the very limit down a weight class. Then, after complaining that he'd been denied a well earned victory over the Filipino he so badly wants to fight a third time, Marquez moved up to lightweight (was he following Pacquiao?) and took on top 135-pounder Joel Casamayor. Becoming the first man to stop the ageing, yet still formidable Cuban, Marquez was back where he belonged.

Can Marquez, 49-4-1(36) maintain his standing as the world's best lightweight in 2009, or will the ten years younger Diaz reclaim that distinction for himself? On paper, one has to make Marquez a fairly big favourite. His accuracy, his ring smarts and his sheer overall ability look to be too much for the Diaz that was outlasted and out-punched by Nate Campbell. Sure, at age 35 Marquez cannot go on forever and there is always a chance age will catch up with him - especially against as youthful and physically strong a warrior as "The Baby Bull." But this writer wouldn't bet on it happening in February.

A great fight, at least for the first half of the 12 rounds, can be expected - before Marquez' superior skills take over. A KO doesn't look likely - especially when one considers not only the calibre of the two men, but also the fact that neither has ever been stopped - but at the same time Marquez did stop the crafty and durable Casamayor, so you never know. It may be that the steadily increasing number of shots thrown with pinpoint accuracy get to the Texan late in the fight. As tough as he is, would it be a huge shock if Marquez were to stop Diaz?

This writer favours a distance fight - a bout that will again advertise every single one of the majestic Mexican's superb skills. "Dinamita" by UD.

Article posted on 05.01.2009

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