Who Will Juan Manuel Marquez Face Next? Katsidis, Hatton Or Someone Else?


by James Slater – 36-year-old Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez is pencilled in to fight again on May 1st, in Las Vegas (according to BoxRec), but there is much uncertainty about who the lightweight/light-welterweight will face. We have all read about how former 140-pound king Ricky Hatton, rumoured to be back in training for a 2010 ring return, has been in talks to face “Dinamita,” but nothing has been officially announced. While warrior Michael Katsidis, the interim WBO lightweight champion (Marquez holds the “real” WBO belt) is hoping it will be he who faces the Mexican legend next, in a fight that will decide who is the main man at 135-pounds.

Indeed, in a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph in Australia, Katsidis’ manager and trainer Brendan Smith has said how his fighter is concentrating on Marquez, and is ignoring any stories relating to how Hatton may get the fight instead of him.. Smith says he doesn’t believe Marquez will get another “exemption” from facing Katsidis, as he has already benefited from one – back in September, when he was permitted to face the returning Floyd Mayweather Junior in a highly lucrative showdown. It’s time now for Marquez to either face interim WBO champ Katsidis or vacate the full title, Smith says.

“There is a report out that Marquez has been granted one more exemption, but we don’t believe that,” Smith said. “It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. If Marquez fights again at light-welterweight he’s not coming back to lightweight. Marquez has already cashed in for a super fight against Floyd Mayweather, if he’s going to cash in again, well, let the [WBO] title go.”

You have to agree with everything Smith has said. His fighter, who won the interim belt with a points win over Vicente Escobedo on the under-card of Mayweather-Marquez last year, is more than entitled to fight for the full championship. But will Marquez opt to “cash in” again with a fight against Britain’s Hitman? If that’s the case, then maybe Katsidis will fight the other deserving man in the current WBO lightweight title picture; another Brit in Kevin Mitchell. Mitchell earned his shot at the WBO 135-pound belt with his December 5th points win over the dangerous Bredis Prescott. And the unbeaten Mitchell has been calling out for a Katsidis fight ever since; even going as far as to say he will KO Katsidis if he fights him.

This is probably what will happen, then – Marquez will fight Hatton, thus vacating his lightweight belt, and Katsidis and Mitchell will clash for the vacant title. It sounds simple enough, but in boxing things are seldom simple (just look at the current mess regarding Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather!) What if Hatton, for example, changes his mind about fighting again? Would Marquez, then out of his big-money bout, decide he wants Katsidis after all? Or will Marquez opt to fight someone else entirely if he can’t get Hatton (Amir Khan has had his name mentioned as a possible foe for Marquez).

With all this going on, it’s tough not to have some sympathy for the deserving Katsidis. A warrior who just wants to fight the best, the 29-year-old wants to know if he will get the fight he’s earned or not. His heart set on a rumble with the Mexican star, Katsidis may not want to face Mitchell or anyone else other than Marquez. For the time being, however, the exciting slugger will have to continue playing the waiting game. As will we when it comes to finding out who the brilliant Marquez will fight next.