by Cliff Rold, photo by Hoganphotos
In a boxing world that managed to squeeze in Roberto Duran-Hector Camacho before both were 100% done with the ring, it’s humorous how often the hope to see Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales in the same ring seems dead.
It’s easy to forget: as long as there is room in a cash register, no potential gold mine is ever really off limits to be tapped.
Boxing fans know the 38-year old Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO), in pursuit of yet one more crack at Manny Pacquiao, has a date at Cowboys Stadium on July 14th. For now, the opponent remains TBA.
The real question is HWS.
How many seats?
The two names given as most likely in the last week for the Marquez date are the 35-year old Morales (52-8, 36 KO) and undefeated 24-year old Filipino Jr. Welterweight Mercito Gesta (25-0-1, 13 KO).
Gesta would be an intriguing option in the ring. Boxing needs new blood and Gesta has the look of a comer. The fight has its obvious sale points. Gesta would be a live underdog and his shared ethnicity with Pacquiao would add to the allure. Gesta is unknown to the larger world but fight fans are familiar enough with him to make him viable.
The question is, again, how many seats…as in how many seats in the cavernous Cowboys Stadium could be filled for Marquez-Gesta. Marquez is, despite his age, at his height of popularity. While never a remarkable A-side in terms of pay-per-view, he’s become a great B-side there and a solid ticket seller for red meat fight fans.
Marquez-Gesta could sell fill its share of seats.
Marquez-Morales could sell a lot more.
There are promotional and Mexican television network issues that would need to be ironed out but where’s there’s a (dollar) bill, there’s a way.
In terms of pay-per-view, it’s also the stronger option. There are occasionally matches, long awaited, that appear to have passed their sell-by date only to pop an impressive number with the home viewing public.
Roy Jones-Felix Trinidad was scoffed at when signed in 2008. Briefly the most buzzed about fight in boxing in the early 2000s, Trinidad’s loss to Bernard Hopkins in 2001 and two subsequent retirements scuttled the bout until they didn’t.
Tickets were overpriced at Madison Square Garden and there were plenty of empty seats. It was so bad excess press were given tickets to fill in around the ringside area. Yet, on pay-per-view, the bout did some 500,000 buys and change.
The event was a success.
The fight itself wound up better than anyone could have expected. Despite Trinidad’s fall, and Roy Jones even starker decline from prime, there was still an appetite to see the two future Hall-of-Fame entrants do battle. In the ring, there was still enough warrior pride to make a good show.
If Jones-Trinidad could work in 2008, what could Marquez-Morales do now?
Unlike Jones or Trinidad, Marquez isn’t seen as a spent force going into any bout. His near miss against Pacquiao last year proved he still has it. In nine fights since 2008, he’s gone 6-3 with losses only to Pacquiao (twice) and Floyd Mayweather.
Sandwiched in and around those losses, Marquez has posted some of the performances that define him. He was the first man to stop Joel Casamayor in winning the Lightweight crown, won the 2009 Fight of the Year against the much younger Juan Diaz, and got off the floor in a classic win over rugged Michael Katsidis.
The only thing he hasn’t done is face Morales. This era’s ‘fab four’ is missing one match and it shouldn’t be. In early 2011, this scribe posited Marquez-Morales had to happen or be lost to time with Morales sure to lose to someone younger if it did not.
Morales faced Marcos Maidana and it wasn’t the case. So valiant was he in defeat that there was actually a renewed desire to see Marquez-Morales, some of those cynical about the idea before Maidana warmed to the idea. Even after a loss to Danny Garcia earlier this year, Morales remains a viable option. He competed hard with Garcia. Morales may not still have all of the elements that made him great in his prime, but he’s still got enough Morales in him to make it impossible to look away.
Would he lose to Marquez? Probably, but that’s no shame and it still completes an epic cycle. Those who would voice skepticism about the quality of the match at this stage miss the point. There were similar worries before Marquez faced Marco Antonio Barrera in 2007 and the fight made mockery of concerns. Last year, Pacquiao-Marquez III was widely decried and now many are crying for round IV. The bottom line…
It’s still Marquez-Morales.
It still needs to happen.
At Cowboy Stadium, a venue that screams for event boxing, it is the only option on the table that fits the bill. Marquez-Morales is an event that can put butts in seats, sell on pay-per-view, and give us a missing piece of fistic history. It might not be what it could have been years ago, but it’s still better than no Marquez-Morales at all.
Anything less on July 14th is wasted opportunity.
But wait, there’s more…
Nelson Smokes Out Jhonson: http://www.boxingscene.com/willie-nelson-found-his-groove-being-deck-hard---52783
Viloria Avenges Nino Loss: http://www.boxingscene.com/brian-viloria-eliminates-his-demons-with-trilogy-win--52812
Now, Let’s See Viloria-Marquez: http://www.boxingscene.com/give-us-viloria-marquez-review-ratings-update--52840
Updated Ratings: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--52874
Watched Muhammad Ali-Oscar Bonavena earlier this week and, while the fight is lacking, the end picture of Ali taking a call from Joe Frazier in the ring and talking about making their fight was refreshing because, well, they fought right after that. Then they did it two more times. How crazy, the two best fighters figuring out how to split a mint and remembering that finding out whom is the very best matters too. Hmmm…James Kirkland says Canelo Alvarez needs more than he showed against Shane Mosley to beat him. Kirkland left out that he’s happy to know whatever Alvarez bring, it won’t remind him of Carlos Molina…Amir Khan has every right to be pissed, and fan’s have every right to applaud his new course. He’s looking for another top Jr. Welterweight this summer, maybe even Danny Garcia. He doesn’t go soft…For those who care, the pound-for-pound list will be updated after Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley…Righteous indignation about David Haye-Dereck Chisora is hilarious. It’s an excellent match, with a built in grudge, and the winner is worth a fortune to a Klitschko (Haye for Vitali and Chisora for Wlad). The Klitschko’s will be appalled all the way to the bank.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]