Boxing


Missed Opportunity: Four Juan Manuel Marquez Lightweight Super-fights I’d Rather See This Weekend

By Jason Peck: Believe me – I get it. Marquez took this fight because he didn’t need an accounting degree to know that nothing beats a Pacquiao payday. Boxing realities speak for themselves. But reality also says Marquez’s abilities dwindle as he approaches welterweight, something demonstrated previously in his 2009 lopsided loss to Floyd Mayweather. I haven’t yet heard a convincing explanation why the extra weight won’t bother him again.

Surely we can do better. Future Hall-of-Famer Marquez has likely hit his ceiling at the lightweight limit – and ignoring some great fights there. It’s a division with talent, but in need of a real shot in the arm and an eye toward the long-term picture.

The lightweight ranks haven’t really held popular attention since Jose Luis Castillo and the late Diego Corrales fought one of boxing’s all-time greatest fights back in 2005. All four fighters below have fights scheduled against mediocre opposition, but when paired against Marquez the end results better serve Marquez, his division and more importantly – the fans.

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Robert Guerrero –Guerrero has also won titles in 3 divisions, and holds (or held, who knows?) the interim versions of Marquez’s WBA and WBO lightweight belts. A match-up with Marquez seems inevitable, and hopefully the Pacquiao fight won’t stop it from happening nonetheless. Guerrero has also lost some power from his featherweight days, but he’s also shown tons of ring savvy and skill in his points wins over tough guys Malcolm Klassen, Joel Casamayor and Michael Katsidis. Definitely a Sweet Science fight, not a backyard brawl.

On the downside…Who is Robert Guerrero? Seldom have a seen a fighter so talented get so little credit for his accomplishments. I blame Guerrero’s constant weight shifting and cherry-picking – no sooner does he establish himself at one weight class, then he immediately moves to another. The style match-up with Marquez sizzles, but with such little crossover appeal, few people outside avid boxing fans would really watch.

Brandon Rios – Unbeaten Rios holds the WBA lightweight belt that is also held by Guerrero and Marquez – a technicality in the WBA seldom understood by anyone but boxing aficionados (For the record, Marquez is the WBA SUPER champion, Rios is the REGULAR champion, and Guerrero was the INTERIM champion to Rios Get it? Neither do I).

He has proven hitting power, especially with his dramatic third-round victory over Urbano Antillon. This fight is an exclamation mark for Marquez in the same way that Victor Ortiz was for Floyd Mayweather – a challenge against a stronger, younger and hungry – but still raw – fighter. When pitted against a superb technician like Marquez, the end result is a tantalizing fight.

Miguel Vazquez – The IBF champ is a solid fighter, but brings little in the way of popularity. He’s best known for handing Breidis Prescott his first defeat, who in turn in known only for giving current WBA light-welterweight champ Amir Khan his first defeat. On the other hand, he brings much to the table for Marquez to exploit – and the aging champ can further his legacy with such a win over a guy who’s likely to have a career after Marquez has retired. A lighter version of the aforementioned Rios challenge, perhaps.

Humberto Soto – The WBC lightweight champ has extensive ring experience, solid skills and an impressive resume, having won titles in 3 weight divisions (OK, the featherweight title was an interim belt, but let it slide). As one of boxing’s most underrated talents, he nevertheless holds noteworthy victories over Rocky Juarez (Juarez’s first defeat), Jesus Chavez, David Diaz and Bobby “Not That One, The Other One” Pacquiao. He just moved to 140 pounds, but I’m sure he’d move back down.

Plus, national pride certainly spices this up a bit. Soto has the solid support of a loyal Mexican fan base. Marquez also, is Mexican. Properly supported with other south-of-the-border fighters, the card could fill a stadium.

On the downside, Soto has clearly suffered from the extra weight. And unlike Marquez, Soto’s power – which used to crush opponents in lighter divisions – hasn’t carried over into the lightweight ranks. Not one of Soto’s lightweight wins came by way of knockout, compared to Marquez’s crushing KO victories over previously unstopped Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz.

They should have fought at 130, but still a winner nevertheless. But there’s one fight that must happen at lightweight, and this is it. Hopefully a career-high Pacquiao payday won’t get in the way of Marquez someday taking this one.

Article posted on 11.11.2011



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