By Jake Donovan
Making history fuels Juan Manuel Marquez’ desire to remain in the sport. The legendary Mexican – who turns 41 in August but still among the very best fighters in the world – is aiming to become the first ever from his country to win titles in five separate weight classes.
Before he achieves that goal, he has to take care of present business at hand. Awaiting Marquez is former 140 lb. titlist Mike Alvarado, as the two collide this weekend in a catchweight bout at The Forum in Inglewood, California (Saturday, HBO, 10:15 p.m. ET).
Promoter Bob Arum secured sanctioning for the bout to serve as an official welterweight eliminator, even with the contracted weight set for a maximum of 144 lb. The winner becomes the mandatory challenger to Manny Pacquiao, who regained a welterweight belt with a decisive points win over Tim Bradley this past April, avenging a highly controversial points loss from nearly two years ago.
From the moment Marquez knocked Pacquiao out cold in their epic fourth fight in Dec. ’12, the buzz immediately began for a possible fifth fight. Ironically, it was the only conclusive ending to any of their four bouts, with Pacquiao taking two debatable decisions and their first fight – which came ten years ago earlier this month – ending in a hotly contested 12-round draw.
Yet even with a win on Saturday helping him get one step closer towards making history for his native Mexico, the only thing Marquez has on his mind is getting through this weekend.
“All I'm thinking is first things first and that's May 17,” Marquez insists. “After I win this Saturday, if (a 5th fight) with Pacquiao is there, it's there. I just want to have this fight on Saturday and it goes from there.”
The bout is the first ring appearance for Marquez (55-7-1, 40KO) since a close-but-clear points loss to Bradley last October. The bout came one week prior to Alvarado’s devastating 10th round stoppage loss to Ruslan Provodnikov in a terrific slugfest.
A fight with Provodnikov – now a 140 lb. beltholder, following the win over Alvarado – was on the table, but Marquez instead chose the fight more relevant to his desire to stay at welterweight, or at least above the 140 lb. division.
“I wanted this fight because Mike Alvarado is a great fighter. Ruslan Provodnikov is a great fighter, but I want Mike Alvarado because he's a strong fighter. I want the (welterweight) championship,” Marquez clarified.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox