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Juan Manuel Marquez Properly Preparing For The Twilight

By Jake Donovan

Nobody ever likes to admit when the end is near, especially when describing about a career.

The fighting Marquez brothers – Juan Manuel and Rafael – have enjoyed a lot of history through the years together, perhaps enough to have earned the right to be referred to as the best sibling tandem in the history of the game. However, all good things must come to an end and for both, the end is near.

Whether or not either recognizes as much is open to debate.

What is clear is that both are properly preparing for it.

Both have big fights looming out there, though Rafael’s path isn’t quite as clear for the moment. But whatever the future holds, it will have to wait until this Saturday when both appear on the same card at Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico in separate stay-busy bouts.

Juan Manuel Marquez (52-5-1, 38KO) faces Likar Ramos (24-3, 18KO) in what will undoubtedly mark his final ring appearance before squaring off for a third time with pound-for-pound king and longtime in-ring rival Manny Pacquiao.

Rafael Marquez (39-6, 35KO) returns to the ring for the first time since last November’s loss to Juan Manuel Lopez, as he faces Eusebio Osejo (19-9-2, 7KO). What the bout will lead to isn’t immediately known, although the hope is that it’s one more crack for the Marquez brothers to go down as the only sibling act in boxing history to each win titles in three separate weight classes.

Before that can become a reality, a first of another kind enters the equation – appearing before their hometown crowd on the same card for the first time in their legendary boxing careers.

And it comes at a perfect time – opting to stay busy rather than sit out waiting for one big payday and way too much downtime in between.

For Juan Manuel, this weekend’s in-country showcase marks the first time in nearly 17 years that he performs south of the border, with his last fight in country coming a year or so before younger brother Rafael turned pro.

Since then, the 37-yeare old has managed to carve out one hell of a career, winning titles in three weight classes and remaining a fixture in the pound-for-pound rankings for the past several years.

Not too bad for a fighter whose first fight out of the gate was a loss, and at home.

In fact, what the elder Marquez has achieved has been nothing short of amazing, considering that the notable wins didn’t begin to roll in until roughly ten years into his career. Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that at age 37, he remains one of the best five active fighters in the world.

Only losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao have occurred in the past five years. To this day, his rematch points loss to Pacquiao remains hotly disputed – even more so than their controversial draw in 2004 – while his lopsided loss against Mayweather came nine pounds heavier than he had ever before fought, having dropped back down to lightweight for his following two fights.

His third fight with Pacquiao is slotted for November 12 in Las Vegas, at a catchweight of 144 lb, the same limit that was supposed to be in place for his September ’09 money grab with Mayweather. The bout instead became a true welterweight contest when Mayweather ignored the contracted limit and asked for a contract modification just days before the bout.

The same could potentially happen in November, although the odds of Pacquiao disrespecting the promotion and also willingly agree to paying cash for every pound over the limit (as became the case for Mayweather, who paid Marquez extra in exchange for agreeing to the weight modification) is highly unlikely.

Still, a big difference between then and now is that Marquez is not making the leap cold, but instead gradually working his way to the fight at the higher weight.

That leads us to this weekend, where his homecoming against Ramos s a 10-round affair at the junior welterweight limit, the one division from 126 through 147 in which he has not officially appeared over the course of his 18-year career.

There was a working theory following the Mayweather debacle in that while welterweight was never a good fit for Marquez, perhaps seeking a fourth title at junior welterweight would be the perfect way to close out his career.

A bout with longtime yet elusive in-country rival Erik Morales was on tap earlier this year, with a sanctioning body on hand, prepared to declare the winner as the first ever Mexican fighter to claim world titles in four weight classes. This title would’ve been of the truest paper variety, but was enough to highlight what was already a big event.

Yet it was to never come, as Marquez pulled out of the fight. The terms didn’t sit well with him, nor did he ever look back. He instead set his sights on another rival in Pacquiao, so determined to bring closure to that chapter of his life that he was prepared to do so without the services of Golden Boy Promotions, who has signed his paychecks for the past five years.

The significance in their relationship is that it came at a time when the rest of the boxing world seemed to have given up on him.

Refusing to give into the discussed terms for a rematch with Pacquaio – originally planned for 2005 – was a move that never sat well with then-promoter Top Rank. So much, that a purse bid for a mandatory featherweight title defense came and went without a single promoter – including Top Rank – bothering to submit an offer for the fight.

The move cost Marquez his alphabet belt, as a ridiculous rule stipulates that a purse bid receiving no offers means that the champion is stripped of his belt and declared vacant. The aftermath was far more humiliating, as it resulted in a trip to Indonesia for a modest five-figure payday and a screwing on the scorecards against undefeated Chris John.

A one-stop fight under the Gary Shaw banner  followed – also marking the last time he and his brother appeared on the same card – before finding a home with Golden Boy Promotions.

The biggest moments – and paydays – of his career followed, including championship wins over Marco Antonio Barrera and Joel Casamayor, as well as highly successful pay-per events against Pacquiao and Mayweather.

A trip to Canastota and the Boxing Hall of Fame is all but locked up five years following the moment he retires. Having visibly dropped off in recent years – showing signs of slowing down in wins over Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis, although rallying back hard to knock out both (along with a dominant points win over Diaz in their July ’10 rematch) - the “R” word has been mentioned with considerable frequency.

It stands to reason that retirement becomes a realistic option for Marquez, perhaps not too far after his third fight with Pacquiao. The event already comes with the largest financial score of his career even well before the potential upside once promotional profit points kick in.

Still, if and when Marquez retires, you can best believe it will come at his own doing. Some of the choices he and his handlers have made through the years have been questionable to say the least, but a choice that he has always lived with as his career has come 100% on his terms.

That trend continues to this very day. Rather than follow the lead of his peers and sit around for years at a time in only answering the phone for “the big event”, Marquez uses the opportunity to bridge the downtime gap with a hometown showcase.

The potential is there for it to become a trap fight, but that’s for fighters who look too far ahead into the future without realizing where they stand in the present.

Not the case for Juan Manuel Marquez, who realizes that while the end (of his career) is near, the steps he continues to take ensures that there remains plenty of work to be done.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by spoonwars on 07-13-2011

[QUOTE=Rapid Counter;10832532]Ok troll, who exactly has he retired? Margarito? Fighting in december. Morales? Still fighting. Barrera? He's fought a few times since he lost to pac. Diaz? Still fighting. Don't tell me your gonna bring up Oscar? He dragged his…

Comment by TaurusJ27 on 07-13-2011

I think he might be dangerous for pacquiao. That loss is probably still fresh in his mind.

Comment by Hiei on 07-13-2011

[QUOTE=LaMigra;10835032]Marquez will be humiliated. This is not the Pacquaio of 2005... It is a wrap. He must need some money.. He has to know he cannot beat this version of Manny. No.[/QUOTE] Marquez held his own vs 08 Pac the…

Comment by LaMigra on 07-13-2011

Marquez will be humiliated. This is not the Pacquaio of 2005... It is a wrap. He must need some money.. He has to know he cannot beat this version of Manny. No.

Comment by JSS on 07-13-2011

[QUOTE=Rapid Counter;10832532]Ok troll, who exactly has he retired? Margarito? Fighting in december. Morales? Still fighting. Barrera? He's fought a few times since he lost to pac. Diaz? Still fighting. Don't tell me your gonna bring up Oscar? He dragged his…

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