15 Years Ago Today: Juan Manuel Marquez And Juan Diaz Gave Us A Lightweight Classic

By James Slater - 02/28/2024 - Comments

Toyota Center, Houston, Texas – February 28th 2009.

The fight was dubbed: “A Battle for the Ages. A Fight for Supremacy.” And 135-pounders Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz served up a modern-day classic. These two warriors, both skilled as well as capable of being ferocious, met in a Mexico vs. Mexico showdown, and the result was electric.

Marquez of Mexico City, the older man by a full decade at age 35, was 49-4-1(36) and the reigning Ring Magazine lightweight champion. Diaz of Houston, Texas, was 34-1(17), and he was a former unified lightweight champion (WBA/WBO/IBF). Fighting for the vacant WBA and WBO belts, Marquez and Diaz gave us The 2009 Fight of the Year.

The opening round was sensational, right up there with something out of that other Mexican classic, Barrera Vs. Morales. The action was frenetic, with both men willing to stand and trade. The speed with which both men were launching shots left fans in a frenzy. Jim Lampley, calling the fight for HBO, remarked how the opening round had been “all-out war.”

Round two was pretty much more of the same. Diaz, relentless, really tested Marquez’s chin. Marquez, the more seasoned fighter, responded in kind. Both men bled in there; both men had to dig enormously deep, and neither man was willing to give an inch. Marquez, often a fine defensive fighter as well as a brilliant counterpuncher, appeared close to being overwhelmed on occasion.

Diaz was letting go with vicious hooks, and Marquez was getting home with hurtful uppercuts. But who would come out on top – “Dinamita” or “The Baby Bull?”

The pace never once slowed. Marquez’s better accuracy paid dividends in the eighth when he wobbled Diaz with a left hook near the end of what was yet another torrid session. Marquez, a genuinely great fighter, scored a knockdown in the ninth when he landed a damaging combination to the head. Diaz got up, but he was soon blasted again, this time by a crippling right uppercut to the chin that left the bloodies and dazed Diaz on his back.

It was over. One of the greatest action fights ever seen in the 135-pound division, Marquez KO9 Diaz gave us all that is special about boxing. With numerous rounds being Round of the Year material and with the ending being a KO of the Year candidate, this fight cried for a part II. This duly came in July of the following year, with Marquez winning a far less thrilling encounter on points.

It was, though, the fight from 15 years ago today that truly elevated both Marquez and Diaz.

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