by Cliff Rold
They waited too long to do it twice, but the wait was still worth it. Will the same be said after they square off for the third time?
The consensus appears to be no. The fight still hasn’t happened. They have time to prove the consensus wrong. At most, they will get a scheduled twelve rounds. Given the intensity of this rivalry in the twenty-four rounds already contested, action until the final bell, no matter the round the end comes, seems assured.
Let’s go the report card.
Current Titles: WBO Welterweight, 2009-Present, 2 Defenses
Previous Titles: Lineal/WBC World Flyweight 1998-99, 1 Defense; IBF Jr. Featherweight 2001-03, 4 Defenses; Lineal/Ring World Featherweight 2003-05, 2 Defenses; Lineal/Ring/WBC World Jr. Lightweight 2008; WBC Lightweight 2008-09; Lineal/Ring World Jr. Welterweight 2009-10; WBC Jr. Middleweight 2010
Height: 5’6 ½
Weight: 143 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 143.45 lbs.
Hails from: General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
Record: 53-3-2, 38 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Welterweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 15-1-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY (including Lineal title Fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 14 (Chatchai Sasakul, Lehlo Ledwaba, Jorge Eliecer Julio, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Oscar Larios, Juan Manuel Marquez, David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat or Draw: 4 (Medgoen Singsurat, Agapito Sanchez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales)
Juan Manuel Marquez
Title: World/WBA Super/WBO Lightweight (2009-Present, 3 Defenses)
Previous Titles: IBF Featherweight (2003, 1 Defense); WBA/IBF Featherweight (2003-06, 3 Defenses); WBC Jr. Lightweight (2007-08, 1 Defense)
Weight: 142 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 136.35 lbs.
Hails from: Mexico City, Mexico
Record: 53-5-1, 39 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 10-3-1, 4 KO (12-3-1, 6 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 10 (Agapito Sanchez, Alfred Kotey, Daniel Jimenez, Robbie Peden, Manuel Medina, Derrick Gainer, Orlando Salido, Marco Antonio Barrera, Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 4 (Freddie Norwood, Chris John, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Pacquiao A+; Marquez B
Pre-Fight: Power – Pacquiao A-; Marquez B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Pacquiao B; Marquez B+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Pacquiao A; Marquez A
It’s a bit strange. This fight would have been feverishly anticipated once upon a time and, while it still is likely to do monster numbers at the box office, the buzz is small. There are good reasons. While there is a catchweight (144 and both came in under) for the contest, it is above 140 lbs., a Welterweight bout. Marquez, a once great Featherweight and still very good Lightweight, has competed this high on the scale once before.
He could not compete with Floyd Mayweather.
Add in a calendar marking Marquez as 38 and his hopes for victory seem slim against a Pacquiao who has proven up to the task of competing, and even dominating, Welterweights. Is Marquez being underrated? History points to the rivalry between Henry Armstrong and Baby Arizmendi. They begin a lengthy rivalry at Featherweight, with Arizmendi winning early and Armstrong winning later, ultimately competing for Armstrong’s Welterweight title. Sometimes, certain guys are just made for each other (even if Armstrong and Arizmendi never met above right around the Lightweight limit…comparisons are not an exact science).
The answer is probably yes. The things he did well against Pacquiao he couldn’t do well against Mayweather. The contests are not comparable. Pacquiao is an aggressive southpaw. Marquez, coming off the deck three times in their even first contest and once in the losing second, found success in countering Pacquiao when the Filipino took the lead. Marquez also was able to lead on his own by timing Pacquiao and punching with him.
Pacquiao still has tremendous speed. If Marquez still has his timing, and his last few appearances below Welterweight indicate he does, he’ll present the biggest technical test for Pacquiao since at least Cotto. Can Marquez dish out the test and stay off the floor?
It’s a big question.
Knockdowns were critical in the scoring of both previous Pacquiao-Marquez fights. Knockdowns have been critical in a lot of Marquez fights. He was down early against Freddie Norwood, Michael Katsidis, and Mayweather as well. He’s shown, against aggressive types like Pacquiao and Katsidis, the ability to get back in the fight.
Pacquiao hasn’t shown the ability to put Marquez away. Of all his foes, including an Erik Morales who actually beat Pacquiao, Marquez has been the one who appeared to present the greatest puzzle for Pacquiao. Marquez is the one many purists though got the short end of both decisions against Pacquiao. How will that motivate the Congressman?
There has been a lot of good Pacquiao, but there can also be a dull Pacquiao. Marco Antonio Barrera the second time, Joshua Clottey and Shane Mosley all came to survive. Pacquiao let them and never seemed inclined to push too hard. If he comes out looking to erase the Marquez questions, we could get something scorching. However, if he senses Marquez can not compete at this weight, that his age has relegated Marquez to playing safe for the route, will Pacquiao force the issue anyways?
He’s capable of it.
More than capable, a slow build to a Pacquiao rout is expected in this corner.
Marquez isn't as close to his best as Pacquiao, and has never really shaken his problem of being dropped early in big fights. It happens again here but, at Welterweight, the big comebacks that happened against Pacquiao at Featherweight and Jr. Lightweight are less likely. Pacquiao will pull away and begin to dish a beating around the fifth with Marquez stopped either on his feet or in the corner around the tenth.
Report Card Picks 2011: 38-14
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]