Juan Manuel Marquez is attempting to bite off far more than he can chew.
The current unified lightweight champion, fresh off a scintillating ninth-round knockout of upstart Juan Diaz in February, is the front-runner to fight former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. in “Pretty Boy’s” comeback fight on July 11th. The proposed bout would take place between the light-welterweight and welterweight limits, likely at 143 pounds. For Marquez’s sake, let’s hope the fight doesn’t happen.
Marquez, 35, is a dynamic fighter. With brilliant technical skills and robust punching power, the Mexican has conquered three weight classes over the past six years. He’s widely regarded as one of the best fighters in the world, largely because of his draw and close loss to Manny Pacquiao, and his fast climb in weight divisions is corroboration that “Dinamita” deserves a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. But despite his past accomplishments, Marquez should not enter the ring against the bigger and better-skilled Mayweather, who would likely pummel the Mexican and steer his hot streak into a crashing halt.
Just three-and-a-half years ago, Marquez traveled to Indonesia and lost to the then-untested Chris John at 126 pounds. Most reports indicate that the fight could have gone either way – John got the nod because he did just a bit more. Although Marquez was fighting on foreign territory, his loss is indicative of how he would fare against a fighter of Mayweather’s caliber. If Marquez can’t beat a scrawny featherweight who has zero other significant wins, how is he supposed to beat the world’s best fighter 17 pounds north?
Mayweather is in a different skill class than Marquez. He has faster hands, better stamina, and far superior defense. And to top it all off, he’s bigger. Marquez would have no clue how to handle Mayweather’s fast, crisp punches at such a high weight.
Stylistically, Marquez is tailor-made for Mayweather. A counter puncher who makes his living off of picking apart hard-charging opponents, Marquez wouldn’t have time to react to Mayweather’s swift blows. And any counter punch Marquez does land will be answered quickly by Mayweather, who is just as proficient in that technique.
Marquez should also keep this in mind: Mayweather, before his brief retirement, fought big-name but low-risk opponents throughout his stint between 147 and 154 pounds. And he’ll likely do the same now that he’s back in the fight game. The 32-year-old is smart: he’s fighting bouts he knows he can both win and make a lot of money off of. Marquez fits perfectly into Mayweather’s plan. He’ll bring to the table a large fan base, meaning lots of money in Floyd’s pocket, and most importantly, he’s easily beatable.
Marquez would be wise to stay at 135 pounds, where he is a proven champion. I’d personally like to see him avenge his loss to John. But venturing up eight pounds to fight a fresh version of the best fighter of the 2000’s would be a big mistake. Hopefully Marquez doesn’t choke on what he’s trying to bite.
***I officially have no hope for the heavyweight division. There are no prospects who excite me, and the two best fighters, the Klitschko brothers, are extremely boring. There are about ten hypothetical matchups in the division that are worth watching, and most involve prospects who will never fight each other.
***Call me crazy, but I can’t wait to see Winky Wright’s April 11th return to the ring against Paul Williams. Most think the fight will be boring, but the fact that it’s taking place at 160 pounds adds to its intrigue. Williams is a better fighter, but Wright has more experience at middleweight.
***It would have been less sad had Roy Jones been KO’d Saturday. At least that way, he might have considered retiring.
***Call me a MMA hater, but I despise the integration of boxing and mixed martial arts. Some say that violence is violence, but I think the sports are too different to combine. If I want to watch mixed martial arts, I’ll order a UFC fight. I don’t want two muscle freaks rolling around on a mat before my boxing main events.
***I’d love to see James Kirkland fight Kelly Pavlik this fall.