Boxing


Marquez/Mayweather: Bragging Rights!

Juan Manuel MarquezBy Coach Tim Walker - I am from a small town called Belle Glade (South Bay) located in south Florida where high school football is king and the Glades Central Raiders (GC) sit a top the mountain. Not even 10 miles away is our arch rival, the Pahokee Blue Devils (PK). It is one of those areas where if you have testosterone flowing in your body then you have football pads strapped to your chest. Tackle pick up games are played in fields, vacant lots and if necessary, in the middle of the street with strong emphasis on the word tackle.

One of the features of GC's football stadium, that sells out every home game, is a reserve section for college scouts. Those same scouts have handpicked dozens and dozens of division one football stars as well as quite a few NFL players. Fred Taylor, Jessie Hester, Ricky Jackson, Reidel Anthony, James Jackson, Jimmy Spencer, Louis Oliver, Johnny Rutledge, Roosevelt Blackmon, Santonio Holmes, Santonio Thomas, Anquan Boldin, and on and on and on. The number falls somewhere between 50-60 players who made it to the NFL. Not bad for a school with a town population of only 16,000. Pahokee, population 6,000, is even smaller.

The rivalry culminates at the end of every regular football season with a head to head battle between GC and PK called the Muck Bowl (the city is nicknamed The Muck or Muck City because of its black soil). This match up is usually the highlight of the season and the prelude to the playoffs for both teams. Most coaches in this situation where the division championship is locked up and playoffs begin the following week would opt to rest their star athletes and play the subs. But there is no rest for players or coaches that week. Practice time is lengthened. Drills are more intense. For that week the Muck Bowl is all that exists. Stores close. Business shuts down. The county sheriff assembles at the high school because the stadium that was built to hold 5 or 6,000 is seating 11 or 12,000.

Forget records. Forget playoffs. On that night all that exists is the rivalry and the man in the three point stance in front of you. It is for bragging rights!

Such might be the case for Floyd Mayweather Junior and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Since the fight between Mayweather and Marquez was announced many people have voiced their dissatisfaction with the match up. Some wishing that Marquez would get a third shot at Manny Pacquiao to conclude their trilogy. Many others wanting Mayweather to fight any of the upper level welterweights (Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito (though still suspended), Paul Williams or even, or especially depending on how you view it, Manny Pacquiao). They have begrudgingly walked a fine line trying not to speak ill of Marquez, who has proven his metal time and time again, while simultaneously expressing derision with Mayweather for the selecting Marquez. But fight fans there is really no need to dismay.

I'll agree that Mayweather needs no help self aggrandizing and that coupled with his obvious talent may be the Achilles heel to his armor. The cauldron of who fans feel will render good fights against Mayweather isn't filled with names (see list above) and unfortunately Marquez isn't one of those names that fans were anxious to see take him on.

I submit that this fight is going to be much more competitive than many think and if you miss it you might be sorry you did. The facts of this classic boxing styles match up speaks volumes if we would only listen. Marquez is an aggressive fighter. Mayweather is an effective counter puncher. Marquez fights with a kind of controlled hostility. Mayweather is uber-slick. Marquez wants to prove he deserves to be fighting in this division at this level. Mayweather is anxious to prove that he is still pound for pound king. Marquez has embraced the underdog role (how many times has that ever been the case). Mayweather refuses to look past Marquez. There is no more classic a match up than puncher/counter puncher and Mayweather/Marquez is that.

Why is Pacquiao cleared to fight Mayweather and Marquez isn't?

It's really simple. Whether fans love or hate Mayweather is not the issue. Whenever he is called names, or shunned, or berated it is never for lack of talent. We recognize his talent and whether we like him or not we can't deny his skill. Again, it's simple. Marquez who is severely respected in the boxing world has not proven that he can fight at welterweight and is consequently deemed not a worthy opponent at that weight. Because of this fans are reluctant to view him as a serious challenge to Mayweather. In their eyes he is a virtual no threat. On this I disagree.

We selectively forget about all the success and great fights that Marquez has been in and given us. We forget that he has NEVER been knocked out and that he pours out his heart and soul in the ring. We selfishly suggest that Pacquiao is the greatest challenge (possibly not unwarranted) out there for Mayweather by intentionally denying that Marquez had a substantial and nearly triumphant showing against Pacquiao (twice).

Maybe it comes down to what we are willing to accept. We see the amazing talent but don't revel in the selection. Maybe that's it. Is it that we have come to expect more greatness of him than we are willing to admit? Maybe we actually do believe him. Maybe we bought into it on a subconscious level and because of this view only certain fighters as worthy or challenging to him. Not a moment goes by that we don't here claims of greatness spewing from a fan, a writer or Mayweather himself. Possibly we believe it so much that a proven ring warrior multi-divisional world champion such as Marquez does not offer enough of a challenge in our minds. If we think he doesn't or that he won't show up to fight then we are wrong. If we think Mayweather won't be fully prepared then again, we are wrong.

For Bragging Rights!

The match up between Mayweather and Marquez is similar to high school football in my hometown. Forget everything that they've achieved leading up to this fight. Forget everything that may come to the winner. For those 12 rounds all that exists for both fighters is the opponent in his 3 point stance. Both fighters have the same goal in mind, to win and win big. To lay claim to great status. This fight will be challenging on many levels for both fighters but when the smoke clears and the final bell rings there can be only one winner. Only one man can earn bragging rights that night.

For questions or comments please contact Coach Tim Walker at tpwalker@hotmail.com. Please check out my new blog at http://boxing4life.blogspot.com/

Article posted on 24.07.2009



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