Praising The Merits of Marquez, But Not Fully Partaking of the Kool-Aid

To be perfectly honest, I was never really that high on Juan Manuel Marquez.  Sure I believed he had considerable talent and potential but truth be told he never really captured my imagination the way his countrymen Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera did.  It was nothing personal against the Mexico City boxer, I like his rise-from poverty back story, the fact both him and his brother Rafael were two of the games best, but for most of his career I simply was not enthralled by him.  Actually if you wanted to nail me down on one reason for my lukewarm reception it would probably be the fact that he fought in a very “un-Mexican” fashion.  Utilizing precise counterpunching and superior technique to win his fights, I usually let out a yawn as I watched him ply his craft.  I was not alone in my sentiments as Marquez himself will tell you that he always had to play the third banana to Morales and Barrera.  And don’t typecast me in the mold of a Larry Merchant, crying out for blood when the name of the game is the sweet science.  I enjoy my share of pure boxers (see Ivan Calderon) but for the life of me I could never fully get behind Marquez.  Perhaps it was because deep down, I knew he had the heart and testicular fortitude to take a whooping to his opponents but always opted for the safe route to victory.  Though like the most fickle of sports fans, I soon began to appreciate Marquez more and more, especially as the once proud icons of Mexican machismo, Morales and Barrera, faded into the twilight of their careers.  That, along with the fact that Marquez seemed to engage in more action as his legs aged made him fun to watch.  His battles with Manny Pacquiao were epic and enticing and in recent years win over Barrera, and Rocky Juarez contained decent periods of sustained action.  This past Saturday night Marquez took a huge step in solidifying his place in the pantheon of Mexican greats as he did what no one thought he could do, stop the game and savvy Cuban Joel Casamayor.  Wait; allow me to clarify that statement, many fully expected for Marquez to win.  Some, such as myself, predicted a rather one-sided beatdown of the aging Casamayor, but few, if any predicted that Marquez would actually knockout the Cuban.  It is a feat that has never been accomplished and many have tried, including a prime Diego Corrales.  So for that I have to give Marquez mucho props.  The win may have officially punched Marquez ticket into Canastota though I argue that his merits prior to the 12th made him a shoe in for the hall.  With his victory Saturday night, Marquez won the Ring lightweight title.  While the Ring’s title boasts the distinction of being the linear title (in most cases) I am not a subscriber to the notion that he who holds the Ring belt is the champion of said division.  In most cases it works out in the Ring’s favor, as was the case when Kelly Pavlik dethroned Jermain Taylor for the Ring’s middleweight title.  I dare say that everyone was in agreement that Pavlik was the legitimate ruler of the 160 pound division.  But there are times when the Ring belt means nothing in the public conscious.  Floyd Mayweather Jr snatched the Ring’s welterweight title with a whitewash of Carlos Baldomir but after winning the coveted prize Mayweather failed to give the most deserving 147 pound fighters a chance.  As a result, many, including myself saw Miguel Cotto as the man at 147 based solely of his body of work in the division.  The same applies to the lightweight division as it stands now.  Sure Casamayor won the title fair and square with his victory over Diego Corrales, but after winning the title did little to assert himself as the “man” in the division.  At the same time, Juan Diaz was amassing an excellent collection of scalps in the 135 pound division, unifying the titles, and in many opinions, mine included, was the true champion at 135.  When Diaz lost his titles to Nate Campbell this past March, the distinction of lightweight champion was passed on to Campbell.  So as it stands in my book, the real champion at 135 is Nate Campbell, with Marquez regulated to that of a title holder (albeit a title holder with more clout).  Now should a Campbell-Marquez fight take place, then the winner of that contest would be deemed the undisputed lightweight champion.  While I agree to an extent with Tim’s assessment that a rubber match with Marquez is a must, I’m not championing the fight to great lengths.  Sure it means more than Pacquiao’s December showdown with Oscar De La Hoya, the fact is at this stage of the Pacman’s career, and money is the great motivator.  Not that I blame him, or find any fault in the logic.  After all the name of the game is prizefighting, the emphasis on “prize”.  So with that in mind I cannot fault Pacquiao for going after the cash cows that are De La Hoya and a showdown with Ricky Hatton.  Besides, I’m sure that Bob Arum is in no hurry to match Pacquiao with Marquez again unless the money is right, and by right I mean comparable to the duckets that Pacman will make against the afore mentioned duo of the “Golden Boy” and “The Hitman”.  Pacquiao-Marquez III is a fight that needs to be made, but I would happily settle for a Campbell-Marquez fight any day. 

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.