Lee Groves

10: Juan Manuel Marquez’s best fights

6. November 25, 2006 – KO 9 Jimrex Jaca, Dodge Arena, Hidalgo, Texas

Eager to capitalize on the momentum he generated from his thrilling stoppage of Terdsak Jandaeng – and with his eye firmly on a second fight with Manny Pacquiao – Marquez agreed to fight Jaca, a Filipino southpaw like the “Pac Man” that also had height and counter-punching skills. At 23, Jaca was 10 years younger but was already a seven year pro that knew the hardships of fighting for $1 per round during his earliest days.

Showing unusual boldness, the cerebral Marquez – who in a previous career had worked as an accountant for the Mexican government – proclaimed he was gunning for the knockout, ostensibly to prove a point to Pacquiao. But it was Jaca that pressed the fight early on, landing several jabs and attempting a fair share of crosses. When Jaca launched an attack at the two-minute mark, Marquez spun him into the ropes and unloaded an even more robust assault. What looked on paper like a dull match between counter-punchers had turned into a genuine firefight.

Jaca continued to pressure in the second and sneaked in a left uppercut at the midway point. Also, his hand speed appeared to make Marquez’s a step slow by comparison. But Marquez got in enough punches to open a small cut over Jaca’s left eye and he capped the round with an excellent flurry.

As Jaca’s adrenaline ebbed, Marquez’s skill and experience took hold in the form of repeated rights to the face. An accidental butt opened a vertical cut on Marquez’s forehead in the fifth, which added an element of drama to the proceedings. Fearing a stoppage, Marquez opened up with a two-fisted assault but by round’s end his face was covered in crimson. Though Jaca fought with admirable resolve and determination Marquez gradually pulled away in rounds seven and eight.

A second butt widened Marquez’s cut in the eighth, prompting an examination by the ringside physician. When referee Laurence Cole stopped the action a minute later to order a second look by the doctor, he curiously informed Marquez “you’re ahead on the scorecards” while attempting to cover his HBO wireless microphone with his hand. To Marquez’s credit he chose to fight on, and with 24 seconds remaining in the ninth he ended the fight with a five-punch combination capped by a crunching hook to the jaw. A dazed Jaca could only look on blankly as Cole counted him out.

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