My pre-fight prediction that Saturday’s meeting between pound-for-pounder Juan Francisco Estrada and former beast Hernan “Tyson” Marquez from the Centro Convenciones, Puerto Penasco might be painfully one-sided was gleefully blown out of the water by the type of heart and guile that so sadly goes unrewarded in the flyweight division.
My prediction that Marquez, with his guts and his gristle would force Estrada to render a “miniature masterpiece” in defeating him was nearer the mark. Too one-sided for fight of the year contendership, Marquez nevertheless showed the kind of bloody-minded determination that makes superstar losers of heavyweights and middleweights but wreckage of flyweights.
Marquez wasn’t just competitive early; he arguably won the first two rounds and certainly won the second. The smaller man, he surged in directly and aggressively and while Estrada tried to spin him, he worried about landing punches. This, he did, in some abundance, but there was a curious future echo in the first when Estrada landed a digging bodyshot and Marquez momentarily faltered. It is likely that the bigger of the two Mexicans noted this.
Estrada began each round steadily, throwing single shots and working up a head of steam while concurrently lulling Marquez into a short-lived sense of security. A left hook hurt Marquez in the third, which I suspect was the key round of the fight; in the fourth, Marquez wanted to wait more and although he would continue to surge and bubble into Estrada’s breach until the bitter end, he was now looking to prolong spells between exchanges and in doing so handed the keys to the Rolls Royce back to Estrada.
Allowed to lead at a time of his own choosing, Estrada uncorked one of his pet punches, a lead left uppercut to the body or head fearlessly thrown by the faster man from the outside; Marquez staved him off once, but Estrada was already hovering. He continued to hover in the fifth and finally cornered Marquez where the first round of serious damage was done; Estrada then shaved Marquez’s liver with a monstrous left-hook in the sixth and Marquez took a semi-voluntary knee. A follow up that must have felt like a three-man attack followed and forced a second count. Estrada was all over him when he stood and watching Marquez fight back to make it out of the round is one of the great thrills boxing has delivered this year.
Patient again in the seventh, Estrada dropped Marquez again at the half way point in the round with another left hook to the body. Had Marquez been in his prime he may have made the cards tonight, the difference between them minimal; the difference here may have been a broken rib as Estrada repeated the punch only moments later to the same affect before Marquez mounted another astonishing rally and was close to outfighting Estrada come the end of the round.
Now stalked for the left hook to the body Marquez gave ground in increments as we saw him do in an even more astonishing fight with Giovani Segura. A right-uppercut left-hook combination tested him though as the monstrous Estrada continued to warm to his task. Struggling with a wet patch on the canvas, Marquez had a slip incorrectly ruled a knockdown in the ninth to add to his problems but it was obvious by now that this fight was not going to the cards. A pitiful but inspiring show of bravery got Marquez all the way to the tenth but there’s no surviving a boxing ring while that hurt, against a fighter of Segura’s abilities. In the first minute of the tenth a right-uppercut straight-left, the latter, especially, withering, was the combination that would have ended proceedings for even a heart of titanium, but Marquez clearly has some black diamond pumping in his chest and he was up once more even if it was only for seconds before Segura swept in to close the blinds. His original rush turned feint as he held his approach long enough to make Marquez move then found the straight right hand that was to finally force the referee’s hand in rescuing a fighter too stubborn for his own good. You don’t see many good quittages but Marquez could have turned one in after that penultimate knockdown.
Segura has cemented his pound-for-pound credentials. A rematch with Roman Gonzalez now seems a must and might be – might be, one should always be careful about saying such things – the best fight that I will see in my lifetime.
Marquez, meanwhile, isn’t as finished as I thought and in fact is owed a big fight by this sport to which he has given so much. He is a flyweight, so he probably won’t get it but here is hoping.