LAS VEGAS — Four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez explained to reporters during Saturday night’s post-fight press conference at the MGM that he didn’t so much stand toe-to-toe with eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao as much as remained in the pocket during exchanges before knocking his welterweight rival cold at 2:59 of the sixth round.
The counter-punching Marquez (55-6-1, 40 knockouts) dropped Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) with a third-round, counter-right hand to the temple, rose from a knockdown in the fifth when his glove touched the canvas, and finished the Filipino star with a straight right that left him motionless and flat on his face before 16,348 stunned fans who were partisan to Marquez.
Pacquiao appeared to be winning the sixth when his trainer Freddie Roach said that “a two-inch punch” caught the onrushing Pacquiao, who “got hit by a punch I didn’t see.”
“What I did was that I fought on the inside sometimes. I was very intelligent fighting, and I was using all of my intelligence in there,” said Marquez, 39, whose nose was bloody and broken during the fight.
“I was counter-punching him. He was throwing a lot of punches. When he was missing, I was right there trying to punish him. And where I could, I got in under his guard. I threw the right hand when he was punching too.”
Marquez lost November’s disputed majority decision to Pacquiao, having previously battled to a draw and a split-decision loss to Pacquiao, who turns 34 on Dec. 17.
Pacquiao had floored Marquez three times in the first round of their initial meeting as featherweights in May of 2004, and dropped him once more in the third round of their second as junior lightweights in March of 2008.
Marquez rebounded from the November loss to Pacquiao with April’s unanimous decision over Sergei Fedchenko for the WBO’s junior welterweight belt, making him a four-division titlewinner.
“Juan Manuel Marquez will never fight toe-to-toe,” said Marquez’s trainer, Nacho Beristain. “He’s just one of the finest boxers, and he’s not the kind of boxer who goes toe-to-toe.”
MARQUEZ CALLS PERFORMANCE ‘MY BEST, POSSIBLY’
“I think this fight was one of my best possibly, and also, right now, in my future, I don’t know what’s coming,” said Marquez, in regard to a potential fifth bout with Pacquiao.
“But I know that I want to celebrate with my family and with my friends in Mexico. Right now, I’m thinking more about celebrating than who I am fighting next. Right now, I’m not thinking of any fight. I just want to take a rest.”
Marquez deserves a break after such a career-defining victory.
There are some who believe that Marquez may have earned the right to be ranked directly behind, if not, right alongside former three-division champion Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., a 50-year-old who was 89-0-1 before losing his first bout, and compiled an overall career mark of 107-6-2, with 86 knockouts.
“This is a victory for Marquez that’s going to make him as popular and as beloved with this victory as it did for Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. when he beat Meldrick Taylor,” said ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, referring to Chavez’s dramatic, come-from-behind 12th-round stoppage in THE RING’s Fight of The Year in March of 1990.
“Chavez was already popular in Mexico, but that put him into that Mount Rushmore kind of situation. His career went on for many more years, because he wasn’t nearly as old as Marquez is now. But this is such a resounding victory for Marquez, and such a dramatic knockout that it’s going send him up the charts.”
If not, Marquez can perhaps be mentioned alongside the late legendary featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez (44-1-1, 32 KOs), whose last fight was a 15th-round knockout of Azumah Nelson in his ninth defense at Madison Square Garden in July of 1982.
If not Sanchez, then Marquez most certainly must have surpassed the legacies of four-division title-winning countryman Erik Morales and three-division champs Marco Antonio Barrera and Fernando Montiel.
There is also former three-belt champion Ricardo “El Finito” Lopez, who retired with a mark of 51-0-1 with 38 knockouts and held the WBC and WBA strawweight as well as the IBF junior flyweight belts.
Morales, of Tijuana, Mex., made Mexican history in September of last yeare when he overcame a spirited effort by previously unbeaten Pablo Cesar Cano, earning a 10th round TKO for the WBC’s vacant junior welterweight belt to become the first Mexican fighter to win a crown in a fourth weight class.
Morales is perhaps most recognized for his battles with Barrera, of Mexico City, having lost twice in a trilogy that ranks among the greatest of all time.
Rafael and Rick Reeno, of BoxingScene.com, believe that Marquez has leap-frogged Barrera and Morales.
“I think that Marquez was in the shadow for a long time of Morales and Barrera, but I think that, slowly, but surely, based on his fights with Pacquiao, that his legacy is now bigger than either Morales’ or Barrera’s because he beat a fighter the stature of Pacquiao that, neither Morales or Barrera beat,” said Reeno, noting that Morales out-pointed Pacquiao in March 2005 before being stopped in the 10th and third rounds of two subsequent meetings.
“Right now, Pacquiao is a guy the world considered as one of the two or three top fighters in the world. Morales beat a much different version of Pacquiao tha the Pacquiao that we’ve come to know over the last couple of years. Morales beat a raw, one-handed punching Pacquiao. But Pacquiao’s style has changed significantly over the last couple of years. Marquez was a significant underdog last year, when he was moving up two weight divisions against Pacquiao and people thought he was going to get killed.”
“People are always asking me who the best Mexican fighter is, Barrera, Morales or Marquez,” said Rafael. “I think that tonight, we just saw Marquez put his stamp on the fact that, ‘I’m the best of the three guys.'”
But is Marquez among the top three Mexican fighters of all time, up there with Chavez and Sanchez?
“I think that you can speak of Marquez, now, in the same breath as guys like Chavez Sr. and Salvador Sanchez. I really do. I think that he will always be associated with guys like Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera for good reason, and I think that they’re an incredible trio of Mexican fighters,” said Mike Rosenthal, Editor of Ring Magazine.
“But I think that he may have separated himself to some degree tonight. This victory was truly historic, and I just think that when you talk about improving a guy’s legacy, I mean, this one was a giant leap. Doing that to Manny Pacquiao was just crazy. I think that that you have to speak of him in the same way that you speak of Chavez and Sanchez. Is he at that level? I don’t know, but we can certainly talk about them at the same time.”
ANGEL HERNANDEZ TO BE RINGSIDE FOR NONITO DONAIRE-JORGE ARCE
“Arce has worked with myself and Nacho Beristain in Mexico City in altitude training. Pretty much I was a mentor during his workouts. He worked out briefly with me for almost five weeks,” said Hernandez.
“But because of me spending so much time with Juan Manuel Marquez, I couldn’t spend so much time with Arce. He has been working with his own boxing team for the past three or four weeks. But he’s a good friend of mine.”
During his preparation for Arce (61-6-2, 46 KOs), Donaire (30-1, 19 KOs) has continued his commitment to year-round, random drug testing that is being conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
Donaire also works with former BALCO founder Victor Conte, who once served a prison stint for his work with illegal performance-enhancing drugs, building a four-year career out of helping professional athletes circumvent Olympic-style drug testing policies until BALCO was raided in 2003.
But since exiting prison, Conte has busied himself with Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning (SNAC), an organization that supplies legal sports nutrition products and supplements.
Conte has an ongoing feud with Hernandez, a graduate of Texas A&M’s exercise science program whose past involvement in performance-enhancing activities has aroused suspicion concerning Marquez’s physique, even as Hernandez never was convicted of any crimes.
HBO TO RE-AIR MARQUEZ-PACQUIAO
HBO will replay Marquez’s triumph over Pacquiao on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT prior to the broadcast of Donaire-Arce.
MARQUEZ, PACQUIAO POST-FIGHT DRUG TEST RESULTS EXPECTED EARLY NEXT WEEK
Marquez and Pacquiao each had his urine tested after the fight for anabolic steroids, masking agents and marijuana, the results of which are due next week, according to Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“The Nevada Athletic Commission has tested both Mr. Pacquiao and Mr. Marquez many times in the past, and they have always tested negative,” said Kizer.
“Nonetheless, we still tested them last Saturday evening, as well as testing all the other boxers who fought in Nevada last weekend — a total of 44 boxers. We expect the results on all boxers to be in early next week.”
JAVIER FORTUNA OVERCOMES PATRICK HYLAND
Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz congratulated Cesar Mercedes of Dominican Republic-based Manguita Promotions for managing featherweight Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna (21-0, 15 KOs) to this past Saturday’s unanimous decision over Patrick Hyland for the WBA’s interim belt, and credits ESPN’s Doug Loughrey, director of programming and acquisitions, for granting exposure to Fortuna.
“I know what a thrill it is to be the manager of a world champion, and I want to say that it couldn’t have happened to a better person. Cesar and I have always believed in Javier, and now the world sees how right we were. He will go on now to have a wonderful career,” said Lewkowicz of a performance that took place on the Marquez-Pacquiao undercard.
“He is just the first of many Dominican boxers who will someday win a title under Cesar Mercedes and Sampson Boxing. Doug Loughrey and ESPN have been instrumental in making Javier a well-known boxer. Without his willingness to repeatedly showcase Javier, he would not have risen to the level he is now at. We are forever grateful for this to Doug Loughrey and everyone at ESPN.”
MIKKEL KESSLER STOPS BRIAN MAGEE IN THE THIRD ROUND
Three-time super middleweight titleholder Mikkel Kessler (46-2, 35 KOs), of Denmark, scored his fifth straight win and his third consecutive stoppage victory with Saturday’s third-round knockout of Ireland’s Brian Magee (36-5-1, 25 KOs), against whom Kessler won the WBA’s super middleweight interim belt in Herning, Denmark.
Kessler, 33, returned to Herning for the first time since April of 2010, when he dethroned England’s Carl Froch as WBC super middleweight beltholder by unanimous decision in a bloody, all-out battle that was part of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Kessler’s triumph over Froch helped him to rebound from losing his WBA belt by a one-sided, 11-round technical-decision loss to Andre Ward in the first round of the Super Six in Nov. 2009.
Ward’s victory ended a streak of three straight stoppage wins by Kessler, whose previous setback had been at the hands of southpaw Joe Calzaghe by unanimous decision in November of 2007.
In August of 2010, Kessler had to pull out of the Super Six with an eye injury, canceling a September bout with Green. Kessler has fought only five times outside his home country, including the losses to Calzaghe and Ward. With the wins over Froch, Bouadla, Green and Magee, Kessler is 43-0 when fighting in Denmark.
AUSTIN TROUT-MIGUEL COTTO ALL-ACCESS EPILOGUE AIRS ON SATURDAY
On Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, Showtime will air its 30-minute epilogue broadcast of WBA junior middleweight titleholder Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs) scoring his unanimous decision over four-time, three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where Cotto was 7-0 with four stoppage wins.
Click here to see a preview of The Epilogue, the second of two episodes of All Access: Cotto vs. Trout that is part of six hours of network programming to include the return of boxing to CBS with IBF bantamweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13 KOs) facing Alberto Guevara (16-0, 6 KOs) in the main event at 4:30 p.m. ET, and, 1:30 p.m. PT.
Also on the Santa Cruz-Guevara card from the Los Angeles Sport Arena will be 2012 U.S. Olympic team member and junior featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr., according to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer.
Tickets will be free for entry into the CBS broadcast, which will feature a toy give-away. The event marks the network’s first live boxing telecast since Bernard Hopkins defended his IBF middleweight title against Glen Johnson in 1997.
Santa Cruz-Guevara will begin a busy day at the LA Arena for Golden Boy, which will later match unbeaten welterweight Shawn Porter (20-0, 14 KOs) against Julio Diaz (40-7, 29 KOs) as part of a Showtime Extreme broadcast that will also feature three U.S. Olympians to begin at 9 pm. ET/PT.
The selected Olympians, all of whom signed with advisor Al Haymon, have been identified by Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez as light heavyweight Marcus Browne, middleweight Terrell Gausha and welterweight Errol Spence Jr.
Following Epilogue, Showtime Championship Boxing will feature heavyweight Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (25-0, 25 KOs) against Kelvin Price (13-0, 6 KOs), and former IBF and WBA junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan (26-3, 18 KOs) opposite Carlos Molina (17-0-1, 7 KOs) — not to be confused with junior middleweight Carlos Molina (20-5-2, 6 KOs).
Also on the Showtime Boxing card will be junior middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo (21-2, 18 KOs) against Mexico’s Jorge Silva (19-2-2, 15 KOs).
SANTANDER SILGADO TO CHALLENGE DENIS LEBEDEV
Cruiserweight contender Santander “Cha Cha” Silgado (23-0, 18 KOs) will become Havoc Boxing Promotions’ first title challenger when he meets WBA beltholder Denis Lebedev (24-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday at Crocus City Hall in Myakinino, Russia.
Photo by Stacey Verbeek
Photto by Al Bello, Getty Images
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by Alexis Cuarezma, Fightwireimages.com
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com