By Kirk Jackson
This past Saturday, Juan Manuel Marquez was successful in his bid to become the first Mexican-born fighter to win a world title in four different weight divisions, earning a unanimous 12 round decision over Serhiy Fedchenko, claiming the WBO Junior Welterweight Interim Belt.
From the opening bell, it was apparent Fedchenko didn’t belong in the same ring with the Future Hall of Famer, with this fight seemingly being an event to keep Marquez busy while he waits for a more lucrative fight later in the year, while also adding another accomplishment/belt to his already impressive resume.
Photo: Top Rank
The question remains: what’s next for the Mexican legend?
I believe Top Rank has been trying to build a fight between Marquez and rising star Brandon Rios, in effort to have some sort of passing of the torch, but Marquez doesn’t seem like a willing participant, expressing no interest in fighting Rios. Marquez foiled Golden Boy’s plans of attempting the same passing of the torch moment, when he knocked out the heavily hyped young champion Juan Diaz back in 2008 to unify the Lightweight titles. Rios isn’t as good as advertised, and with his weight issues, he may be a few years away from legit championship ascendency.
Rumors of Marquez facing fellow Mexican legend Erik Morales have also been in the discussion, but like with Rios, Marquez has expressed a lack of interest in fighting Morales.
Who can blame him?
A little over a decade ago when Morales was on top of the sport along with Marco Antonio Barrera, Prince Naseem Hamed and a few other stars in the lower weight divisions, Marquez yearned for a chance to face them, but never received the opportunity–at least not until he finally fought Barrera, who was on the tail end of his career at that point.
And we all know the Holy Grail for Marquez is facing and (officially) defeating his long-time rival Manny Pacquiao.
Shortly after their third fight, Marquez announced that he wants to fight Pacquiao again for the fourth time, but this time he wants it in his home country, Mexico.
Because of the disappointment from the decision of their last fight, he also added some conditions if they ever were to fight.
Marquez wants their last fight to be declared a no-contest, wants Pacquiao to accept that he lost and wants to receive a $10 million guaranteed purse.
Good luck with that… Even if a fourth fight between the two were to take place, Marquez earning an official decision over Pacquiao is a tall task. With the set of demands and knowing Marquez isn’t the typical fighter Pacquiao is used to facing in recent years (a technical counter-puncher), the likelihood of a fourth fight is slim to none, and pointless at the end of the day for Marquez and his supporters because he probably won’t be awarded a decision.
Marquez also expressed interest in fighting Timothy Bradley, who is recognized as the man at junior welterweight. If that fight manifests, it probably won’t take place until fall or maybe even next year, as Bradley is busy preparing for the biggest fight of his life as he looks to take down Pacquiao in June.
A fight with Bradley is an intriguing matchup for Marquez, who I can see winning the fight because of his technical mastery and counter-punching abilities even at this late stage of his career. But I think a fight with the winner of the Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson rematch would be even better for Marquez. Depending on who emerges as the victor, the fight with one of those two can be even more dangerous for Marquez because of the contrasting fighting styles.
Khan has the reach and hand speed that can give Marquez fits and has a large European following and growing American following that can make the fight a financial success as well. Peterson may not possess the same fan base as Khan, but he is a tough out for any fighter. Peterson is hard-nosed, attacks the body well, and does have some slickness to his style, a problem that has troubled Marquez in the past (see Floyd Mayweather and Freddie Norwood). Whatever his decision is, Marquez has his options.