The announcement that Floyd Mayweather Jr. was returning to the boxing ring was not news, but the fact he accepted the challenge from Mexico City’s Juan Manuel Marquez indeed was unique.
Some even chuckled.
The one smiling the most was Marquez himself as if he had just won the super lotto.
It all began for Marquez after he knocked out the bigger Juan Diaz who had never been stopped before. While being interviewed he told the boxing public that if he couldn’t have Manny Pacquiao then he’d fight Mayweather.
Money took the bait.
“I didn’t know if Mayweather would accept,” said Marquez. “I’m very happy he decided to fight me.”
Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs) won’t be the only one called “Money” when they meet on July 18, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, that nickname now applies to Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs) who doesn’t care if he’s fighting at yet another higher weight class.
“I know how to beat Floyd Mayweather,” said Marquez with an even bigger smile. “It’s a secret that you will find out on July 18.”
It’s no secret that Marquez is one of the best fighters pound for pound in the world and exhibits technical proficiency on Harvard doctoral level. But Mayweather is bigger, stronger, faster and has never been beaten.
“He’s already been beaten so he can be beat again,” Mayweather chimes.
Oscar De La Hoya, who seemed to gain a few more pounds and looks healthier than last month, chatted with me about the reasons he feels Marquez has a good chance.
“You saw what Manny Pacquiao did to me. Marquez fought Pacquiao twice and went the distance. What does that tell you,” said De La Hoya who is in his promotion mode now. “Mayweather is a great boxer, but Marquez is a great boxer too. And he has a good chin.”
De La Hoya says the century old axiom that a good big man beats a good little man is over as his last loss to the smaller Pacquiao proved.
“You just saw Juan Manuel Marquez beat Joel Casamayor and knock him out. Then he fought Juan Diaz, a good young fighter and knocked him out too,” De La Hoya said. “People are going to be surprised at how good Marquez really is. He can beat Mayweather.”
We shall see.
One thing, though, Marquez already got the biggest wish of his life when he landed the Mayweather fight that should make him more money than he’s earned in his career for this one fight.
That’s a lot of money.
Las Vegas mega show
The inside of the MGM was packed more than its been since the last time Ricky Hatton fought against Mayweather. Brits, Filipinos and hardcore boxing fans were everywhere.
Soon after the Marquez-Mayweather press conference, we had to scoot to the other side of the hotel and casino to grab our press credentials.
Usually I arrive in the gambling city around Thursday. But this time I came on Saturday and just had time to get into the press conference held by Golden Boy Promotions, Mayweather Promotions and Marquez promotions.
The Mexico City fighter used to belong to Romanza Promotions that he started with his old buddy, but they parted ways.
“We had different ideas,” said Marquez when I asked him why another promotional company name.
Myself, Uppercut Magazine’s Kaliesha West, and photographer Paul Hernandez rushed over to the credential office located outside. Bad idea to put it outside. In the summer media will be waiting in 110-degree desert heat.
After 20 minutes we grabbed our credentials and headed to the media room. While there I scooped up several bout sheets for the long fight card. There was no food so I convinced several others to go to the food court and grab something to eat. In the food court we ran into Elizabeth Quevedo Parr and her husband Yas Parr.
Elizabeth quit boxing for lack of fights and disgust with the whole industry’s attitude toward female pro boxing. Too bad. Aside from her model like looks, she could have been one of the best female fighters since Lucia Rijker in my estimation.
Quevedo won four U.S. national titles. The first two were at welterweight and the second two were at junior welterweight. At 5-10 in height and with a great punch she scared off the competition. Only world champions were willing to fight her when she turned professional. And a few backed down after reconsidering.
Her husband Yas is a conditioning coach who learned his trade in England. He’s a British citizen who picked up a handful of degrees and has wonderful knowledge on the art of physical preparation and nutrition.
Both favored Hatton over Pacquiao and were on hand to witness the event.
Las Vegas was packed with people.
After gulping down a couple of slices of pizza and a coke, we took Liz and Yas to the media credential office so they could pick up their tickets for the event. Then we headed back to the media room to see if anything was going on. It turned out the fights had begun so I grabbed some bout sheets and jogged into the arena.
Omar Chavez, one of the sons of Julio Cesar Chavez, opened the fight card with a knockout. He was in good spirits after the fight when he sat a few seats away from me and spoke to the Spanish TV commentators about his fight.
The crowds didn’t arrive until about the semi main event when Humberto Soto crashed the hopes of Canada’s Benoit Gaudet with a knockdown in the first, then two more in the eighth and final round. An uppercut led to his demise in the final round.
Celebrities were everywhere including JayZ, P-Diddy, Jack Nicholson, and Mariah Carey. That’s not counting the dozens of sports celebrities in the audience.
Flags were everywhere and the Brits let loose with their songs whenever they felt like it. One thing about those guys and girls from the UK, they’re great sports fans. Maybe the best in the world when it comes to boxing.
But in the end, even the Hatton hordes couldn’t help him.
After the fight, I had to depart to California. I didn’t get a room so I jumped in the car, minus my traditional margarita, and sped toward the desert home of Riverside, California.
Sitting at the post fight press conference for Pacquiao and Hatton was Pomona’s Sugar Shane Mosley who was seeking a match from the winner of the junior welterweight title fight.
Mosley attempted to coerce a contest with winner Pacquiao but was shot down vocally by Top Rank’s Bob Arum who promotes the Filipino star. Instead, the Las Vegas boss wants Pacquiao to fight Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto should he emerge victorious against Joshua Clottey in June. Or fight lightweight world titleholder Edwin Valero of Venezuela.
Mosley had been told by Pacquiao that a match was possible.
Then, of course, there was the mighty Mayweather who was more than willing to face Marquez, but not willing to face Mosley. What a fighter. Meanwhile Mosley has to sit and wait and hope Pacquiao wants to fight him. I’m banking on Pacman who has guts and confidence to step in the ring with Mosley or anyone under the middleweight division.
IBF and IBO light heavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson (27-0, 17 KOs) defends his titles against Antonio Tarver (27-5, 19 KOs) on Saturday May 9, at the Palm Casino in Las Vegas. It’s a rematch of their fight that took place last October.
Tarver claims that he was lacking in his preparation and vows to avenge his first loss that included a knockdown. It was an under whelming performance and propelled Dawson to be considered one of the top fighters in the world.
The rematch was originally scheduled to take place last March but Dawson suffered an injury to his wrist during training.
Also on the fight card is Melissa Hernandez of New York City who many consider one of the top skilled female boxers today. Her only loss came Las Vegas boxer Layla McCarter. Now Hernandez faces Jeri Sitzes a tall former kickboxer who has made a good transition into boxing.
It should be a good night for boxing.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 7 p.m., Craig McEwan (14-0) vs. Brian Vera (16-2).
Sat. HBO, 6:30 p.m., Chad Dawson (27-0) vs. Antonio Tarver (27-5); plus replay of Manny Pacquiao (49-3-2) vs. Ricky Hatton (45-2).
Ishe Smith (20-3, 9 KOs), who participated in the Contender TV reality series, fights Brian Mihtar (10-1) at the Plaza Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Friday May 8. The junior middleweight bout is scheduled for eight rounds and will not be televised.
Negotiations between Riverside’s Chris Arreola and Vitali Klitschko have stalled as the WBC have allegedly made former titleholder Oleg Maskaev the mandatory for the WBC title though he’s ranked number four. Arreola is ranked number one after his win over Jameel McCline this past April. Klitschko is the reigning heavyweight champion.
Two Feathers Promotions said Riverside’s Michael Franco’s (14-0, 9 KOs) opponent for the vacant NABF bantamweight title is probably Alex Becerra (19-7, 9 KOs). Perris flyweight Anthony Villarreal (9-2, 4 KOs) will probably fight Texan Jesus Rios. The fight card will be held on Saturday May 16 at the Fox Theater. For tickets and information (760) 559-6419 or (909) 889-5555.