by David P. Greisman
There is no fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao. There is no bout with Lamont Peterson.
Juan Manuel Marquez is once again left out. The biggest fights against the best fighters once again elude him.
Some of this has been out of his control. Some of this has been his own doing.
Marquez is 38 now. It is an age at which many fighters move toward retirement. It is an age at which a select few fighters cash in on years of accomplishments and remaining fame by fighting only on the biggest broadcasts and pay-per-views. It is an age in which others are forced to fight on smaller shows against younger or lesser foes.
Marquez has mentioned the first. He is still seeking the second. He may have to return once again to the third.
He’d sought a fourth shot at Manny Pacquiao, sought a resolution to the rivalry, to the three fights, all of which he thought he won, none of which he came out the winner. Instead, Pacquiao is fighting Timothy Bradley in June.
He’d been mentioned for a fight with Lamont Peterson, a semifinal fight that would perhaps send the winner toward a match later in the year against Pacquiao. Instead, Peterson has signed for a rematch with Amir Khan in May.
He is forced to wait, at 38, at age when the more that time passes, the more that his prime is in the past.
“Bob Arum said that it was a tournament, like if I would have fought with Peterson, the winner would have fought Pacquiao or Bradley. The winners were going to fight,” Marquez said in a recent interview with Lem Satterfield of RingTV.com.
“Now I have to find another opponent,” he said. “I have to talk to my promoter … but I don’t know what’s going to happen at this moment. I have some options. Maybe I’ll fight in April in Mexico City. And then, maybe, in July. In Mexico, maybe David Diaz. In July, I don’t have a name yet.”
Marquez’s greatness is not necessarily solely contained in his record, even with the 53 wins in 60 fights, even with the 39 knockouts, even with the world titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, even with the lineal championship at lightweight.
He is 12-5-1 against world titleholders, those blemishes coming against Pacquaio, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Chris John and Freddie Norwood. The victories were over Juan Diaz twice, over Joel Casamayor, Marco Antonio Barrera, Orlando Salido, Derrick Gainer, Manuel Medina, Robbie Peden, Daniel Jimenez, Alfred Kotey, Agapito Sanchez and Julio Gervacio.
But the biggest fighters often avoided him. The biggest fights often eluded him.
There were no bouts a decade ago against Naseem Hamed, Erik Morales or Marco Antonio Barrera — Marquez and Barrera would not fight until 2007, when it was finally financially worth the risk for Barrera to face him.
Marquez met Pacquiao in 2004, then turned down a rematch, a decision that cost him money and, nearly two years later, his title, when he went to Indonesia for $25,000 and came home the victim of a robbery. He fought Pacquiao again in 2008, then chased him up the scale and through the divisions for another three and a half years, until they met once more this past November.
He’d had the big pay-per-view dates and the big paydays. He fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2009. He’s earned his millions. He’s turned down others, most notably a fight two years ago against Amir Khan, a bout in which his team felt he was being set up as a stepping stone.
He showed against Pacquiao in November that he can still compete at the highest level. That, then, is where he’s limiting himself to, to keeping busy in the interim until the big fights are in front of him.
There are so many other good fighters he could face, so many other good fights he could make.
There are the young guns who could test him, just as Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis did, fighters who would force Marquez to show why he is still among the best. There are the young guns like Brandon Rios and Robert Guerrero, fighters who could make him defend the lightweight championship that has gone undefended since November 2010, or who could face him at junior welterweight.
As with the brawls against Diaz and Katsidis, bouts against Rios and Guerrero would prove interesting and could prove entertaining. They would test the grit of a man who gets hit more than he once did, but who can still acclimate and then adjust, dissect and then dispatch.
But that is what he has done already. He fought Chris John and Terdsak Jandaeng and Jimrex Jaca until he got Marco Antonio Barrera in the ring. He fought Rocky Juarez until he could get a Pacquiao rematch. He beat Diaz for a second time, then took out Katsidis and Likar Ramos until the third Pacquiao fight was made.
There will always be more young fighters coming up in the ranks, more good fighters vying for a shot at the established names. Lennox Lewis retired, feeling he had nothing left to prove. So, too, did Joe Calzaghe.
In the emotion immediately following November’s loss to Pacquiao, Marquez mentioned that retirement is a possibility. That sentiment has clearly faded.
He still waits for a big fight. He still has other good fights to make. He still must decide whether those good fights are good enough.
The 10 Count
1. The best gamblers are those whose decisions are based on calculated risks rather than compulsive impulses. Timothy Bradley and Lamont Peterson took gambles and, at least on the financial front, have come out winners.
Bradley was criticized, and for good reason, when he essentially ducked Amir Khan last year, turning down a fight that he himself had strongly lobbied for, and turning down a fight in which he stood to earn the best possible payday — a 50/50 split of all revenue, including all the money Khan would bring in his home country.
He sat out the remainder of his contract with promoter Gary Shaw and then signed with Top Rank. The calculated risk? Turn down money and spotlight in the short-term, gambling on the possibility that Top Rank would put him in with Manny Pacquiao.
It worked. Pacquiao vs. Bradley appears to be set for June 9.
Peterson’s first gamble — also involving Khan — has already been documented. He turned down what he considered to be unfavorable terms for a Khan fight, took a mere $10,000 for an elimination bout against Victor Cayo, won that and then was able to bring more leverage to negotiations.
Peterson beat Khan in December, then spoke immediately afterward about being open to a rematch. Peterson and his team subsequently went from being open to a second date to, well, playing hard to get. They said they were entertaining all offers and seeing what the best choice would be, essentially forcing Khan to sweeten the pot for the shot at revenge.
It worked. Peterson vs. Khan 2 is set for May 19, with Peterson reportedly receiving the same 50-50 split Khan had once offered Bradley.
2. Unfortunately, the idea of a “neutral” location — and the subsidization of the sweet science through site and license fees — means that Peterson-Khan 2 will be in front of a casino crowd in Las Vegas rather than somewhere where the atmosphere could approach what it was for their first fight in December.
Las Vegas isn’t the worst spot in terms of being a destination where Peterson’s fans might come in from Washington, D.C, and Khan’s fans might fly in from the United Kingdom. Travel and ticket costs do add up, though — I see Khan’s rabid fan base more likely to travel to Vegas than Peterson’s fans, which are growing in number but were still being cultivated.
Adam Abramowitz of the Saturday Night Boxing blog noted that there will be four big boxing matches within an 8-week period: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Miguel Cotto on May 5, Peterson-Khan 2 on May 19, Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley on June 9, and then the rumored rescheduling of the Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz rematch to June 30. He predicted “a lot of empty seats” for the two non-mega-fights (Peterson-Khan 2 and Berto-Ortiz 2).
He’ll probably be right. I’m hoping he ends up being wrong, as boxing cannot grow just with the success of a few big stars. It’s plausible that boxing fans who are shut out of being able to buy tickets to Mayweather-Cotto and Pacquiao-Bradley will opt for one of the other two fights. It’s also possible that the other two fights will suffer the same lack of marketing that befell this past October’s bout between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.
Golden Boy’s marketing muscle had gone into Mayweather vs. Ortiz in September, not into the fight that followed four weeks later, and not when HBO money had already bankrolled the Hopkins-Dawson bout. Golden Boy is involved with three of these four Vegas fights — hopefully what happened with Hopkins-Dawson will be an exception. Hopefully the promoters involved will help make that eight-week period as exciting in reality as it has the potential to be.
3. The metaphorical wisdom of Teddy Atlas, lightning round edition, brought to you by the Feb. 10 episode of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights”:
- “Right now Abril looking to shoot some threes from the outside as Serrano looks for the dunk. He’s looking for the dunk too much.” (Round 2 of Ray Serrano vs. Kenny Abril)
- “There’s no doubt that Serrano’s the boss. He’s the dog in this fight, and Abril’s the cat, trying to survive a little bit, trying to scratch a little bit.” (Round 2 of Serrano-Abril)
- “You don’t need X-ray vision — you don’t have to be Superman — to see in the mind of Abril.” (Round 8 of Serrano-Abril)
- “Instead of grabbing the stage, he’s gone a little bit behind the curtain in the last couple of rounds.” (Round 9 of Serrano-Abril)
- “The boat has left the dock, but there’s still a chance to jump out towards the water and towards that boat. Abril better do some jumping real quick.” (Round 10 of Serrano-Abril)
4. Nonito Donaire received some good news — what appeared to be a gnarly hand injury following his Feb. 4 win over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. turned out to be, to coin a phrase, all blood and no break.
“Negative Xray,” Donaire posted on Facebook on Feb. 7. “No fractures or broken bones. Blood result of skin tear and vein popped that caused swelling as well.”
A day later, he said an MRI scan showed just bruising, and that his muscles, ligaments and tendons appeared to be normal.
He’ll be back soon, which, dating back to the way we felt about him a year ago following his knockout of Fernando Montiel, is exactly what we want and exactly what he needs.
5. The easy jokes about Saul Alvarez’s fight against Shane Mosley on May 5:
- Yes, Oscar De La Hoya is calling it “Cinnamon vs. Sugar.” The problem is that Mosley is “Old Spice.”
- Naazim Richardson’s advice to this older Shane Mosley? “Swim without getting out of the therapy pool.”
- It could be worse. It could be Saul Alvarez vs. Oscar De La Hoya.
6. The hard realities about Alvarez-Mosley:
- It’s a bigger-profile fight than any of the other suggestions, though only for the wrong reasons. People are talking about this fight because of Mosley’s name and because of Mosley’s past, but, again, largely for the wrong reasons.
There are those of us who don’t believe Mosley — who failed to entertain in his bouts against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Sergio Mora and Manny Pacquiao — should be in with Alvarez.
We want Alvarez to move forward with his level of competition and think Alvarez-Mosley is a waste of time and money on the Mayweather-Cotto pay-per-view undercard.
- Mosley turned pro when Alvarez was just 2 years old. Sometimes that doesn’t matter — Bernard Hopkins turned pro when Jean Pascal was still weeks away from his sixth birthday. The real question is whether Mosley’s win over Antonio Margarito three years ago was his last great performance, or whether his poor performances of late have been due to style rather than due to his physical state.
Mosley looked skittish against Ricardo Mayorga, and he was gun shy against the speed and/or unpredictability of Mayweather, Mora and Pacquiao. But if Mosley has truly slipped to the point where he just can’t let his hands go anymore, then the Alvarez fight is a bad fight, a potentially dangerous bout.
As we’ve seen with Roy Jones Jr., the inability to pull the trigger against some fighters eventually shows up against all opponents. Scott Christ of the Bad Left Hook boxing blog makes a compelling point: “Roy Jones has been what I’ve seen in Mosley for three straight fights: can’t throw, loses focus, reflexes gone.”
Delvin Rodriguez will never be a world-class fighter, but an Alvarez-Rodriguez fight would’ve been more deserving of this worldwide stage. We’d be buzzing about the good that fight could bring — as opposed to the bad that Alvarez-Mosley might end up being.
7. Boxers Behaving Badly, part one: Harry Simon, a former 154- and 160-pound titleholder, was arrested last week after an alleged confrontation with another man at a Namibian nightclub, according to that country’s Informante newspaper.
(The newspaper’s slogan, by the way, is a Joe Cortez-esque “Firm but Fair.”)
Simon, 39, is facing one count of assault by threat and one count of “crimen injuria” — defined by Wikipedia as a law in parts of Africa regarding “unlawfully, intentionally and seriously impairing the dignity of another.”
The confrontation didn’t appear to lead to blows, but Simon’s alleged words were enough to land him in legal trouble. Simon is slated to appear in court on March 8.
Simon spent 21 months behind bars between 2007 and 2009 on charges stemming from a 2002 motor vehicle crash in which a car Simon was driving collided head-on with another vehicle, killing two tourists and their 22-month-old child. That was his second fatal crash of that year — two people died in the first.
Simon retired undefeated in 2002, returned to the ring for one fight in 2007 and two fights in 2010. His record is 26-0 with 19 knockouts.
8. Boxers Behaving Badly, part two: Alex Guerrero, a cruiserweight prospect and older brother of middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero, was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting a sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop, according to television station WBOC.
Guerrero is facing one count of second-degree assault and one count of resisting arrest, according to online court documents. He was released on his own recognizance and is due in court on April 9.
He is listed as 30 years old in court documents (and as 29 years old on BoxRec.com).
Guerrero was driving in Salisbury when a deputy pulled him over, then called in a drug dog to the scene, WBOC reported. Guerrero allegedly refused to get out of the vehicle, then later tried to keep a deputy from patting him down, tried to shove the deputy away and tried to keep from being handcuffed.
He last fought in June 2011, a win that brought his record to 7-0-1 (4 knockouts).
9. There were some who took me to task after last week’s line comparing Mayweather vs. Cotto to another past bout. “We’ve seen it already back in 2005,” I wrote. “Back when it was Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Arturo Gatti.”
Those who wrote in complained that I was diminishing Cotto’s accomplishments and ability by comparing him to Gatti, who was exciting and powerful and full of heart but wasn’t on the same level as Cotto.
But that’s not what I said. Rather, I expect, based on styles and abilities, that Mayweather-Cotto will look like the drubbing that Mayweather-Gatti was. I’m hoping I’m wrong — I don’t like paying $60 for fights in which I already know the outcome.
I love passionate boxing fans — the atmosphere in Madison Square Garden for Cotto-Margarito 2 was phenomenal — and their love of their fighters sustains this sport, including this website.
Your disagreement is always welcome. I love the discussion that can ensue, and I’d love to hear your breakdown of the bout, of why you think Cotto will be competitive. Heck, I occasionally even admit to being wrong. I thought Manny Pacquiao would demolish Juan Manuel Marquez in their third bout. So did many others. There’s a reason they fight the fights in the ring rather than on paper.
10. Let me take back something — I love passionate boxing fans, but only those who don’t riot.
The melee that ensued this past weekend in Argentina following Luis Lazarte’s stoppage loss to Johnriel Casimero — with Lazarte’s fans rushing the ring and throwing chairs, water bottles and punches — was ugly and frightening and, fortunately, ended with everyone getting out alive, though not unharmed.
Some so-called superstars in the United States can’t even get 1,000 people to show up for their fights.
In Argentina, however, they’ll riot over a 40-year-old 108-pounder.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com.
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