COMEBACK OF THE YEAR VOTING RESULTS
Juan Manuel Marquez: 68 percent
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Juan Manuel Marquez’s hard-fought ninth-round stoppage of Juan Diaz in the Fight of the Year for 2009 was the kind of high-octane ring battle that takes years off of the careers of both fighters.
And Marquez, who was 10 years older than the 25-year-old Diaz, had fewer years to sacrifice than the young challenger. Although the reigning lightweight champ was brilliant in scoring the come-from-behind TKO, fans wondered how much he had left after such a brutal encounter.
Not much if one judged Marquez by his next fight, a painfully one-sided 12-round drubbing from Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September of last year. The Mexico City native, who turned 36 one month prior to the welterweight fight, looked his age — perhaps even older — while losing almost every round.
Marquez’s pitiful performance against Mayweather is the reason the veteran’s two fights this year — a commanding unanimous decision over Diaz and a thrilling ninth-round TKO of Michael Katsidis in a Fight-of-the-Year candidate — earned him the 2010 Ring Fan Poll Comeback of the Year award by a wide margin.
Marquez, who dropped back down to lightweight for his rematch with Diaz, regained his sharp technique and out-boxed his motivated rival over 12 intense rounds.
However, the return bout with Diaz, which took place on July 31 in Las Vegas, was considerably more tactical than their first fight. Some fans still questioned whether Marquez, who turned 37 in August, could survive another grueling barnburner.
Marquez’s answered those fans with his title defense against Katsidis on Nov. 27 in Las Vegas. After a brisk start, the powerful 30-year-old No. 1 contender dropped Marquez with a perfect left hook 46 seconds into the third round. Marquez got up by the referee’s count of five, withstood the furious follow-up attack from Katsidis, who was inspired by the recent death of his brother, and then fired back with vicious body shots and accurate combinations to the head in the final minute of the round.
During the next five rounds, Marquez engaged in the kind of heated power-punch exchanges with Katsidis that most fighters his age try to avoid. Marquez didn’t run. He didn’t hold. He didn’t try to run out the clock or slow down the torrid pace of the bout at all.
The 17½-year veteran allowed Katsidis to power forward and he exceeded the younger man’s considerable punch output and connect rate until the proud Australian could no longer keep it up and was barely able to remain upright in the ninth round.
In besting another younger, stronger contender in a fight that was every bit as dramatic and breathtaking as his first fight with Diaz, Marquez reminded everyone that he is a great fighter and completed the comeback of 2010.