By Jake Donovan
Make no mistake about it; Claudio Marrero is grateful for the latest in-ring opportunity presented to him. Still, it doesn't sit well that he had to settle for what was offered in comparison to what he continues to pursue.
The once-beaten featherweight contender from Dominican Republic will face unbeaten but largely untested Derrick Murray atop the August 21 PBC on NBC Sports Network telecast, which takes place at Ford Ampitheatre in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York, The bout comes in supporting capacity to a one-fight broadcast on NBC prime, with undefeated welterweight contender Errol Spence taking on Italy's Leonard Bundu.
Marrero (20-1, 14KOs) - who lives and trains out of Herman Caicedo's complex in Miami, Florida - begrudgingly accepted the assignment after watching a number of bouts fall through the cracks, including a twice-postponed and eventually scrapped interim title fight with Carlos Zambrano, for which he had trained more than two months while awaiting a set date that never arrived.
Even a Zambrano showdown was a consolation prize to the names he wants but can't seem to land.
"I'm tired of all the 126 pounders ducking me," Marrero bluntly told BoxingScene,com. "Gary Russell, Jesus Cuellar, Leo Santa Cruz, Lee Selby and all the top contenders refuse to look my way."
The lone loss on Marrero's ledger came at the hands of Cuelar in their Aug. '13 interim title fight. He has since won six straight and has moved back into position where a title shot should be in his very near future. His current ranking along with being aligned with adviser Al Haymon was supposed to ensure such a scenario occurring by now.
Unfortunately, the clients that Haymon represents - including all of the aforementioned on his hit list - haven't been as willing to entertain such a bout.
"Claudio is the best featherweight in the sport and its a shame that the best won't fight the best," Caicedo believes. "In his case, not even contenders want to fight him! We have the best adviser in boxing today and not even Al Haymon can convince anyone to get in the ring with Marrero!
"We are going to push Claudio into a #1 spot and force a fight this year. Part of the reason is his native country Dominican Republic doesn't back fighters nor do the people. So there is no upside for the promoters or fighters to fight him. But he is a US resident now and soon to be a citizen. This is his country now, the United States!"
Marrero will head to Brooklyn carrying a six-fight win streak, including a decision win over Jonathan Arrellano this past February. The bout took place on the undercard of Santa Cruz' knockout win over Kiko Martinez, with both fights occurring in California hours after Carl Frampton outpointed Scott Quigg in Manchester, England.
The split site day/night Showtime doubleheader was designed to get Frampton and Santa Cruz in the ring. That plan proved successful, with Frampton handing Santa Cruz his first loss in becoming Northern Ireland's first-ever two-division champion following his points win in their July 30 thriller.
The belt at stake is one where Marrero had hoped to claim the interim version in the never-scheduled clash with Zabrano, with the sole purpose of securing a clash with Frampton or a rematch with now-regular titlist Cuellar.
High-risk, low-reward status continues to hold him back. The hope is that an impressive performance on U.S. cable TV immediately following Olympic coverage and boxing on NBC prime will help raise his profile to where the other featherweights have no choice but to look his way.
"I understand I don't represent a money fight for them," Marrero acknowledges. "But I'm here and not going away!!"