• Change of heart for Marquez

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    Ed C. Tolentino

    Ed C. Tolentino

    It is understandable if Mexican four-division champion Juan Manuel Marquez no longer wants to rub mitts with Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao. In a rivalry that has been pockmarked with controversy and bitterness, Marquez finds it extremely gratifying that he got the last laugh when he viciously knocked out Pacquiao in their fourth meeting in December 2012.

    Then again, it is also understandable if Marquez suddenly changes his disposition on the matter. In the twilight of his career (turning 41 in August), the truckload of dollars Marquez stands to realize if he consents to a fifth showdown with Pacquiao is downright irresistible. A fifth fight also gives Marquez the opportunity to silence critics who continue to hark that he just caught Pacquiao with a lucky punch.

    Verily, after initially showing no interest in a fifth showdown with Pacquiao, Marquez is now leaning on stepping inside the ring again for another round with the ‘Pacman.’ Amid calls from his own household for him to archive the gloves, Marquez is mulling on at least two more fights before calling it day. Latest reports have it that he is determined to make a ring return on May 17, with the fight serving as a precursor to his swan song opposite Pacquiao.

    American Mike “Mile High” Alvarado has emerged as the front-runner in the list of prospective foes for Marquez. If all goes according to plan, the two fighters will duke it out in Los Angeles, California in the undercard of the proposed showdown between World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight (130 pounds) champion Mikey Garcia and World Boxing Association (WBA) interim lightweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa.

    WBO junior welterweight (140 pounds) champ Ruslan Provodnikov had previously challenged Marquez, with the Russian going to the extent of accusing the Mexican of being afraid of him. Marquez, however, has made it clear that he is only after fights that will cement his legacy. If he fights Provodnikov, Marquez will only end up regaining the title he once held. On the other hand, if Pacquiao dethrone Timothy Bradley Jr. for the WBO welterweight (147 pounds) crown in April, Marquez is very much interested in fighting the Filipino for a historic fifth division title.

    A match with Alvarado hardly qualifies as a legacy fight, but Marquez only intends to use the showdown to break some sweat and fine-tune his counterpunching skills for the finale against Pacquiao. Former WBO junior welter king Alvarado, 34-2, 23 knockouts, offers a style that perfectly fits Marquez’s counterpunching approach. A former high school wrestling champion, the 33-year-old Alvarado is far from being the slick-moving Bradley who outboxed Marquez last September. Alvarado is slower, more predictable on offense and has a suspect jaw. In his last ring outing, October 2013, Alvarado was brutally knocked by Provodnikov in 10 rounds but he still took home a career-high purse of $1.3 million.

    Thus far, the only hindrances in a Marquez-Alvarado match are the domestic issues recently hounding Alvarado. A few weeks ago, police found a late-model Cadillac Escalade dumped into a lake in Denver, Colorado. A male driver allegedly fled the scene on foot. Police subsequently discovered that the same vehicle was involved in a hit-and-run accident before being ditched into the lake. Evidence has surfaced that the vehicle is registered to Alvarado, although it has not been established if he was the one driving it at the time of the fender-bender.

    Court records in Denver, Colorado show that Alvarado is a habitual traffic offender. He once served five months in jail for parole violations and had been on probation for a variety of driving offenses.

    If Alvarado can get his act together, he could be in for another cash windfall against Marquez. He could even be in line for the biggest win of his career if age and the proverbial wear and tear finally take their toll on Marquez.

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    For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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