Lee Groves

10: Juan Manuel Marquez’s best fights

7. September 13, 2008 – KO 11 Joel Casamayor, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Thirsting for a third fight with Manny Pacquiao, who had dethroned WBC lightweight titlist David Diaz three months earlier, Marquez moved up to 135 and took on Casamayor, the lineal titlist courtesy of his rubber match win over Diego Corrales two years earlier.

Each was the other’s equal in terms of experience and craftiness. Knowing this, Casamayor tried to shake Marquez’s composure by provoking confrontations at the fight week press conference and weigh-in. He also wore a black sombrero – a definite no-no for a Cuban fighter during Mexican Independence Weekend. While Marquez gave as good as he got verbally, he never allowed Casamayor’s antics to affect his confidence.

The first four rounds featured steady but not spectacular action that prove nightmarish for the judges. A Marquez right opened a small cut over Casamayor’s right eye in the fourth and several strong rights in the fifth deepened the gash plus created a scrape on the Cuban’s nose. By the sixth, Marquez was beginning and ending most of the skirmishes and his heavier single shots started to break down his rival piece by piece. Not only that, Marquez was doing a good job of avoiding Casamayor’s counters as well as the shaved head that produced countless head-butt cuts.

With the fight even on two scorecards entering the 10th, Marquez finally solved the Casamayor puzzle in the 11th. With 35 seconds remaining Marquez ignited an exchange that ended with a right that caught Casamayor pulling out. The Cuban crashed to the canvas for a three-count but when the action resumed it was clear that Casamayor was far more hurt than he let on. Marquez smartly avoided Casamayor’s attempts to clinch by pivoting away and punching furiously with both hands. A straight right to the point of the jaw dumped Casamayor for the second – and ultimately final – time. With just five seconds remaining in the 11th Marquez gained recognition as the best lightweight in the world, and made a strong case for a third go-round with “The Pac Man.”

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