GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 June) – Juan Manuel Marquez finally gets the third and, safe to say, last fight he has been moving heaven and earth to have before he retreats to the sunset.
There is not much money fight left in him as he approaches his 38th birthday.
He has had two memorable and controversial fights with reigning pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, both when he was at the prime of his career.
While both fights were close enough that they can be called both ways, Marquez never showed the kind of dominance that fellow Mexican Erik Morales did against Pacquiao during the two’s first of three fights.
Like many Mexican boxers before him, Marquez failed to even knock down or put Pacquiao in real danger of losing. True, he had his moments. He gave Manny the biggest puzzle with his sweet counterpunching styles. But because their two fights went the distance, boxing fans had to accept the scorecards. After all, it is the reason why judges are there – to score the fight. Also, nobody really cried highway robbery when Manny won by split decision in their second fight. In contrast, Manny was a victim of a judge’s error when the latter failed to properly score the first round in the first Pacquiao-Marquez fight which would have meant another close majority decision for the Filipino world boxing sensation.
Marquez and Manny first fought in 2004 and again in 2008.
Since their first fight, the two have gone separate ways with Manny bouncing from his heartbreak loss to Morales to go 15-1 and in the process capturing five more titles in as many weight divisions.
Marquez, on the other hand, would lose three more times in 13 fights.
Career-wise, Manny is still in his peak and has morphed into a complete boxer that is remarkably different from the trigger happy lefty that Marquez encountered in the past.
Not only is Manny now bigger and more technically sound and proficient. He is at home at the agreed weight that he and Marquez will be fighting for the third time. And he has not lost a step. Nor the sting of his punches.
Manny was having trouble meeting the weight limit when he fought Marquez as a featherweight in 2004 and as a super featherweight in 2008.
Marquez, in the meantime, is having difficulties carrying added weight outside of his lightweight frame. He was a lot slower when he lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. two years ago and has become even more hittable.
If he felt Manny’s punches when they were featherweights, there is no question he will feel the same, if not even more, when he gets tagged squarely the third time around. He may no longer be able to bounce back to his feet when Manny connects with his patented left straights and equally explosive right hooks, punches that were missing when they first fought.
To his credit, Marquez is a true-blue Aztec warrior. A third fight will probably give him a peace of mind and surely the gold mine.
Marquez will be receiving the biggest pay check of his career that is likely to end before Manny’s.
But he may be trespassing in a territory that rightfully belongs to Manny.
(Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com.)