Borneo, Indonesia – Unbeaten Chris “Dragon” John (38-0, 20 KOs), Semarang, Indonesia, successfully defended his WBA featherweight title for the fifth time when he scored a surprising, unanimous decision over former champion Juan Manuel Marquez in Borneo, Indonesia. Marquez (44-3-1, 33 KOs) had taken the fight for a purse of only $31,250 in an effort to snare the WBA title only to come up short on the score cards, 116-112, 116-110 and 117-111.
The Sweet Science saw it in favor of John at 116-110.
Supremely confident of his abilities and with a desire to be champion once again, Marquez rolled the dice and came up snake eyes. Winning the fight would not only make him a champion, but also give him a much needed bargaining chip, the WBA title. However, it was not to be.
Marquez came out in round one to the roar of “Chris John, Chris John, Chris John” with absolutely no fanfare of his own. Both fighters started tentatively, trading jabs, feinting, and then moving out of range. The bout quickly settled into a tactical battle and in round two, Marquez landed the first meaningful blows of the contest, a stiff right to the head of the champion, followed by a right to the body.
The former champion opened the fourth with a crisp left hook but John continued to steadfastly implement his strategy of jabbing, moving side-to-side and flurrying when the opportunity presented itself. John nailed Marquez with a crunching, counter-right uppercut midway through the round, his best punch of the fight.
In the sixth round, both fighters traded unintentional low blows; no warnings were issued however and the chess match continued. The fight was close at this point and difficult to score.
Marquez started round eight by landing another, unintentional low blow; this time receiving a warning from referee Guillermo Pérez Pineda. The champion was boxing smartly; jabbing and double jabbing, staying away from the power of Marquez. The corner of Marquez implored him to “get going, work, work,” but he was unable to slow John down.
Marquez opened round ten with borderline punch to the thick waistband of John and the referee immediately jumped in to deduct a point. Just seconds later, Marquez landed yet another low blow and receiving another reprimand.
In the eleventh, the desperate challenger came out quickly and bashed home a crushing uppercut to the jaw of the Indonesian, only to follow the punch with a blatant low blow. Referee Pineda stepped in once again and deducted a second point. Marquez remained composed and kept after John, landing a three-punch combination to end of the round.
In the final stanza Marquez snuck in a crisp uppercut before tripping on the ring ropes. He pressed forward until John landed a huge right uppercut-counter to punctuate the victory. The Indonesian danced out of danger for the last sixty seconds of the fight and at the sound of the bell, his entire team jumped into the ring to hoist him upon their shoulders.
“Chris John is a very good fighter but I think I did enough to win the fight. It was a close fight but I won. Three or four times I hurt him, but every time I would hurt him, the referee would step in and stop the fight,” said a shocked Marquez.
”What got me out of my rhythm was the referee. After the referee took the point away in round ten, I was scared to throw any more body punches,” he continued.
When asked what he would do differently in a rematch, Marquez shrugged his shoulders, “There’s nothing to be done differently. We did what we were supposed to do; go after him, throw punches and counterpunch. He’s a great fighter but I don’t know what else we have to do to win.”
Team Marquez spokesman Jaime Quintana vehemently disagreed with the scoring, “It was a close fight but I thought we took seven rounds. Seven to five. Chris John is a great fighter but he didn’t have to win like this. What other way can we win? Knock him down, kill him? Knock him out? Juan did what he was supposed to do.”
”We’ll go back to Mexico, relax for a few weeks and then he’ll go back into the gym. We’ve got some plans for Juan and Rafael in April and we’ll get more in to this next week.”
The disgruntled Quintana stated a rematch is possible but only if held outside of Indonesia. Team Marquez intends to lodge a formal protest of the decision with the WBA.
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Featherweight Pedro Navarette TKO’d local favorite and former Chris John victim Virgo Warouw in round six when referee Bambang Subagyo stepped in and stopped the action due to a severe cut above Warouw’s eyebrow. Navarette moves to 17-2-3, 9 KO’s while Warouw drops to 3-11, 2 KO’s.
Undefeated Lennox Allan out pointed Ade Alfons 78-76, 78-74 and 77-75 to win his sixth straight and push the loser to 6-3-1 (1).
In a crowd-pleaser, Alex Bajawa (34-0-1, 10 KO’s) won the vacant IBO Intercontinental Featherweight title when he outgunned Ricardo Walter Arano (9-7-1, 4 KO’s) of Argentina.
Hero Yauw Katili (3-3-1, 2 KOs) scored a dramatic, come-from-behind TKO in round twelve to stop Hengky Tobias (6-4-1, 2 KO’s).
Promoter: Muhammad Arsyad Promotion
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A special thanks goes out to Jeff Pamungkas for making sure I knew where I was supposed to be and when I was supposed to be there, the one and only Donny Winardi for showing me the ways of Indonesia and the FHM girls, all the good-hearted Indonesian journalists and the fantastic promoter, Mr. Muhammad Arsyad.