The short road ahead for Juan Manuel Marquez

By Mark Klimaszewski: 37-year-old Mexican warrior and long time fan favourite Juan Manuel Marquez is apparently in the running for a third shot at Manny Pacquiao. One need only read the countless internet message boards and fan forums for a plethora of opinions on the matter; how Juan would be the best and most logical choice for the Pac-Man; how the weight issue would be nullified if Manny were to come down to 140; the fact that Marquez deserves the shot after the question marks that continue to hang over their first two meetings. But realistically, what would be the most likely outcome if the warriors did square off a third time?

Despite varying views on the first two wars and the closeness of the scorecards in their last meeting; is there really any chance for Marquez to get the victory he feels he so deserves? Although some fans would agree, it’s hard to see Juan handling the now more-vicious-than-ever Pacquiao as effectively as he did previously. It’s true, both fighters were at a close weight in their last meeting (Marquez 144, Pac 143) but looking at the Pacquiao of 2009/2010.....well he just looks heavier, more thick-set, more brutal in his all round boxing ability.

Indeed, Marquez looked amazing in his recent stoppage of an incredibly game Katsidis and led many to declare he was still a worthy opponent for Pac-man. Many also say it was a performance that will nudge Pacquiao to take the long yearned for third fight and silence any detractors that quibbled about the controversy of their previous battles. Juan Manuel did look superb. But it’s obvious that he is comfortable fighting at lightweight, where he has performed excellently since making the move a few years ago.

As a follower of Marquez, it would be hard to watch the proud warrior- certainly at the twilight of his grand career- take what could be a brutal beating at the hands of a lethal Pacquiao. Whilst there is always the possibility of Marquez once again timing Manny and ‘having the style to handle him’ it’s more probable that this 2010 version of Marquez just won’t have enough to overcome the P4P don.

Many hardcore boxing fans view a unification bout with relatively lower-profile Humberto Soto as the best fight out there for Juan. Of course, this would probably make the most sense from a fan perspective. A quick look through the current lightweight rankings reveals a division not as deep as it was say a few years ago. Soto is probably the only lightweight that the fans would like to see challenge Marquez. And whilst some die-hards accuse Dinamita of ‘ducking’ Soto (and there may be an element of truth in that, at least from a boxing politics point of view), I’m sure Juan Manuel would tear it up against Humberto and out box the fellow champ in a great battle.

Fellow Mexican great and hall of famer Erik Morales has been touted as a very likely candidate in a Mexican showdown ‘for the fans’. While undoubtedly a big seller, not many people are too keen on this fight happening for obvious reasons. This would be too late in the day for Morales and whilst maybe 5 or 6 years ago would’ve been an absolute corking fight (with El Terrible perhaps having too much for Marquez) would now just be a payday fight; Marquez would most likely out-punch Morales to a fairly comfortable points win.

Other than that, many fans would like to see him go up to light welter weight and face one of the top guys there. With the only foray into higher weights resulting in a lopsided beating for Marquez at the hands of Mayweather Jnr, it’s difficult to envisage how Juan would fare at a weight class below. Most supporters of Marquez feel he has pushed the boat out far enough at lightweight and any climbs above would prove disastrous. Khan was mentioned some time ago as a potential opponent for Dinamita but this fight would probably play out in similar fashion to the Money fight. Khan would be much bigger than Marquez and outreach him by a large margin. Although Marquez would probably time Khan precisely, the likelihood is he wouldn’t have the necessary ‘pop’ in his punches to slow the younger, rangey fighter.

So then, another name potentially in the mix (albeit one being considered by fans only, so far) is the recent conqueror of Marquez’ younger sibling, Juan Manuel Lopez.

An intriguing fight on paper- their styles are a match made in heaven. But with JuanMa only coming up to featherweight this year is it realistic to assume he would want to climb as far as lightweight in the immediate future? There are some cracking challenges for the unbeaten Puerto Rican in his current division so right now it’s difficult to tell. Undoubtedly, if Lopez has the urge to go on to bigger and better things a fight at lightweight against Dinamita would be a huge seller. And looking at the styles of the two pugilists it would probably give us the fight that Rafael vs JunaMa should’ve been.

Either way, we will find out what Marquez’ plans are for 2011 soon. And for a classy operator that’s given us so many memorable fights, the short road ahead before he decides to “hang ‘em up” is sure to provide the fans with plenty more excitement before he goes....

Article posted on 18.12.2010

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