Mentioning Juan Manuel Marquez to Filipino boxing fans can generate both negative and positive remarks. And even hatred, for who can ever forget the night he literally knocked the daylights out of Manny Pacquiao in December 2012 in Las Vegas.
The sight of Marquez looking at the fallen Pacquiao and wondering if the Filipino would get up, and the reel of him raising his fist and running around the ring as the Filipino was tended by ring physicians and his seconds, have become one of the most iconic scenes in modern boxing history. And it is, indeed, very hard for most Filipino boxing fans (particularly Pacquiao followers) to swallow the bitter pill from the Filipino boxing icon’s knockout loss to Marquez.
But it is very foolish to take away the credit Marquez deserved for beating (and even knocking out) Pacquiao in their fourth fight. Since Pacquiao failed to avenge his knockout loss to Marquez and the Mexican even gave Pacquiao his hardest fights, Marquez has a place secured in modern boxing history.
To his credit, Pacquiao never denigrated Marquez.
Marquez, who held titles in four weight divisions, could have retired after knocking out Pacquiao but the Mexican continued fighting and lost a close fight to Timothy Bradley in October 2013 and beat Mike Alvarado in May 2014 in a slugfest that saw both fighters hit the deck.
Now Marquez is setting his sights on Miguel Cotto, who recently lost via decision to Canelo Alvarez in a middleweight title fight.
Although Cotto is coming off a loss, he could not be written off as damaged goods. And even if he is already 42 years old, Marquez cannot be discounted as a fading fighter.
One thing going for Marquez is his unique offensive coun-terpunching style that combines good offense and a deadly counterpunching style. That type of style is unique to only a few boxers, one of them being Roman Gonzalez, currently The Ring magazine’s No. 1 pound-for-pound dog, albeit with some innovations by Gonzalez.
Marquez’s offensive coun-terpunching style was what gave Pacquiao a hard time in their four fights, and his style fits offensive fighters like Cotto. At least that’s what I can theorize.
Obviously by not retiring at this point of his career, Marquez wants to exit the game with a high note, and it looks like his win over Pacquiao and Alvarado are not enough for him.
While the fight between Marquez and Cotto is yet to be finalized, it would actually favor the Mexican than the Puerto Rican because Cotto beating an aging (even if he does not look like he is aging) and smaller fighter will not do the Puerto Rican much good, maybe except earn a few million dollars.
On the other hand, Marquez beating Cotto would earn him more respect and bolster his legacy because those who could still excel at 42 years old are very rare in boxing.
Also, accomplished boxers retiring without absorbing shocking or denigrating losses in the ring are almost the stuff of legends nowadays, given that top boxers earn millions of dollars in the ring and want to stretch their time in the game.
But Marquez has that rare chance to end his career in a different way or with a high note by beating Cotto. And if he still has some fight left in him, maybe he can take on either Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman and school the two undefeated boxers.
If there is any lesson that can be learned from the career of Marquez, it is this—his life was mostly about boxing. When he trained for his fourth fight against Pacquiao, he looked like a man possessed by the obsession of beating one of the top fighters of his era. And he succeeded.
Because he devoted most of his life to boxing, Marquez is obviously reaping rewards toward the end of his career.