By: Sergio L. Martinez
Juan Manuel Marquez is a living legend. No one this side of sanity will dispute that the Mexico City technician is a pound-for-pound boxer who will be immortalized into boxing’s pantheon of greats the second he is eligible.
Marquez is arguably the greatest counterpuncher of his era and ranks amongst one of the best counterpunchers of all-time. His genius led him to the dungeons of boxing as rather than face him in his physical prime and weight, his fellow boxing greats and other so-called champions simply avoided him.
Top Rank signed Marquez more as a way to keep him away from the promoter’s cash cows; relegating Marquez to near obscurity while boxers less capable, less talented and less deserving flourished in popularity and earned riches. For hardened boxing aficionados, this was a felonious act as Marquez – a true maestro – wasted away in the gutters of the sport because he was less marketable and considered high risk, low reward.
Knowing that his talent was wasting away, Marquez made an adjustment to his game which made him more fan friendly. Previously almost impossible to hit, Marquez became more aggressive and more willing to exchange blows with his opponents. This adjustment worked, as the aging great began to garner attention and bigger fights became a possibility.
It all changed for Marquez when Filipino icon Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao targeted the Mexican badass. Thirty-six rounds later, the debate still remains as to which of them is superior to the orher.
As accomplished as Marquez is, having captured world titles in multiple weight classes and defeated some of the premier fighters of his era, “Pac-Man” remains the ultimate possible exploit, a chase the Mexico City star has refuses to give up, like Wile E. Coyote pursuing the Roadrunner.
Marquez repeatedly airs his belief that he has been denied his career summit by way of scoring larceny due to the Filipino’s immense popularity and financial clout. Self-serving or not, there are many boxing experts and unbiased followers of the sport that agree with him.
Now aged 39, Marquez has but one final opportunity to bask in the warmth of his own personal “Indian Summer,” as in December he faces “Pac-Man” for the fourth time. It is no secret that Marquez has spent the past eight years involved in fights more grueling than that of Pacquiao and that the clock is closer to his final hour as a fighter. Still, there is even less of a doubt that Marquez will attempt to sign his painting of a career and quiet his biggest critic: himself.
Despite what transpires on December 8th, Manny Pacquiao will probably fight on, as newer names will continue to seek a Pacquaio payday. Still, I am sure that he too wants to settle this legendary dispute.
For Marquez, a victory would bring much sought-after peace, as he would finally be able to rest knowing that he was right all along. Although the wear and tear of a long career fighting top-tier opposition may be enough to render even the greatest fighter inept towards his end, vindication may be what carries Marquez this coming Saturday night, as it is time to close the book on this plight.