By Robert Morales
Remember Freddie Roach's line prior to Manny Pacquiao's fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez? It was something like, "If Marquez's physique is natural, I'll kiss his ass."
Then Marquez knocked Pacquiao cold on his face in the sixth round of that Dec. 8 fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and the talk continued. Marquez was more muscle-bound than ever. He had, in his camp, admitted steroid distributor Angel Heredia/Hernandez, which did not help Marquez's cause. Which all begs the question: How will Marquez be remembered by fans once his fine career is over?
Although it should, it doesn't seem to matter that Marquez has never had a dirty test for performance-enhancing drugs. Neither has Pacquiao, and there have been plenty of unsubstantiated rumors about him in this regard because of his run through eight weight classes.
Once the innuendo is out there, it seems tough to ignore.
During a telephone conversation this week, we asked Marquez if he was concerned his reputation was going to be forever tarnished because of the suspicions.
"You know me very well," he said to a reporter who has covered him during virtually his entire 20-year career. "You know that I'm a clean fighter, that I would never do anything illegal. It does bother me that people say those things about me. That's why I welcome everything we're doing for the fight."
Marquez, who Saturday will challenge welterweight champion Timothy Bradley for his championship at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view), was talking about the Olympic-style drug-testing for this fight that is being handled by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Alas, it is important to Marquez that he be remembered in a positive light.
"I'm happy with what I've done," he said. "I've had a great run and when I retire I hope that people will remember my greatness, and that's all I can do."
The knockout of Pacquiao is his greatest feat. He makes no bones about that.
"It was a great win, not only for me and for my family, but for my country," Marquez said. "Since the other fights were so close without no wins, it was a great feeling to finally get that win. It was such a great feeling that I don't want it to go away for the rest of my life. I don't want to lose it."
Arum Has Marquez's Back
Promoter Bob Arum has both Pacquiao and Bradley under contract, but not Marquez - though Arum did say during a telephone conversation Wednesday evening that he considers Marquez "family" as well.
First, we asked Arum what he believes Marquez's legacy should be once he retires.
"Well, I think if he wins this fight with Bradley, he will be recognized, along with (Julio Cesar) Chavez, as the top two fighters in the history of boxing in Mexico," Arum said.
"To say that he's going to surpass Julio, I don't know if anybody can. Certainly, he'll be right up there with Julio.
"He would be the first Mexican to win five world titles in five weight divisions. It's something that he considers to be extremely important to his legacy."
Arum was then asked to chime in on the aforementioned PEDs subject. In his mind, there has been nothing with which to tarnish Marquez's career.
"I believe that Marquez is a clean athlete and I believe that his muscles are due to really super hard work and the training that this Heredia has given him," Arum said.
Arum then talked about how he put $20,000 into an account for the Nevada commission to use to pay for the lab work for the random Olympic-style testing, which is being overseen by the commission. Arum talked about how strict the testing is, and that both have passed with flying colors.
"Marquez and Bradley have each been tested six or seven times," Arum said. "Totally clean. Every possible test that either USADA or VADA does, has been done. So we've done, in effect, extra testing. I am convinced without any shadow of a doubt that the two guys going into this fight for Saturday are totally clean."
Handicapping The Fight
Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs), who at 40 is 10 years Bradley's senior, gave an interesting answer when he was asked how he thinks the fight might develop.
"I don't know what he's going to try and do with me, whether he's going to try and out-box me or brawl with me," Marquez said. "But whatever he does, I'm ready. I'm ready to attack him, I'm ready to counter him. Whatever he does."
'Kid Chocolate' talks himself, other middleweights
Peter Quillin, known as "Kid Chocolate," has become a hot commodity over the past couple of years. It started when he won a piece of the middleweight championship with a unanimous decision over Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam in October 2012 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
A year later, with one successful defense under his belt, Quillin will attempt to make his second when he takes on Gabriel Rosado (21-6, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia in the semi-main event Oct. 26 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City (on Showtime).
Indeed, a lot has happened for Quillin, 30, of Brooklyn. He is highly regarded by experts, as well as himself. We asked Quillin during a conference call Wednesday where he ranks himself among the world's top middleweights.
"I would place myself second behind Sergio Martinez," Quillin said of his fellow champion from Argentina. "I've been calling Sergio Martinez out from day one when everybody didn't think I was a serious fighter. So I would place myself No. 2 only because I was willing to fight all the guys. When Gennady Golovkin was fighting Matthew Macklin, I was willing to fight Gennady Golovkin. But business holds back a lot of these things.
"But I know I'm going to fight hard, whoever I have to beat, to be No. 1 because I'm the No. 1 middleweight in the United States and I want to the No. 1 middleweight in the world."
Quillin fights under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, In the past, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer has said that Golovkin was not well-known enough yet to warrant a title unification bout with Quillin. But it sounds like Quillin really wants fights with Martinez and Golovkin - and sooner rather than later.
"Oh, of course, that's one of my dreams, to be unified champion," Quillin said. "I reconstructed my goals after I won a title to say that's the next goal, to be unified champion. But I only can take one step at a time and Gabriel Rosado is a very tough opponent. And I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I stay on my goal path."
He takes being a champion very seriously
Not only has Quillin (29-0, 21 KOs) become a major player in the middleweight division, he has become popular with reporters. He's looked upon as a stand-up guy with an engaging personality. It's like he really knows what it takes to get the job done inside and outside of the ring.
It's called professionalism, and that appears to be Quillin's way of doing business.
"From the beginning my goal was always to become world champion," said Quillin. "Once that happened, I was like, 'OK, I accomplished what I wanted, now where do I go from here?' And that's when I noticed that to become a world champion is a special thing because you got little kids telling you that they are inspired by you."
Big kids, too.
"Like lawyers and doctors and stuff like that," Quillin said. "I knew that was something special, so now I know that I have a responsibility to work harder and make sure every time I go out, I do it with pride and that honor for all the kids that's watching."
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News and BoxingScene.com.
Tags: Timothy Bradley , Juan Manuel Marquez , Bob Arum , Peter Quillin , Marquez-Bradley , Marquez vs Bradley , Gabriel Rosado , Quillin-Rosado , Quillin vs Rosado