|On Weight Limits and Legacies
By JD Camacho, DoghouseBoxing.com (Mar 6, 2009) Photo © German Villasenor
After Juan Manuel Marquez’s knockout win over Houston son and top-rated lightweight Juan Diaz last Saturday, experienced cutman Tony Rivera told Doug Fischer of The Ring Magazine his thoughts on Marquez.
“For him to be able to go from featherweight to lightweight,” said Rivera, “and knock out two guys Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz who nobody knocks out, that tells me that he’s one of the best featherweights of the last 30 years. I think he would have fit right in with the top featherweights of the late '70s and early '80s:
Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Salvador Sanchez, Eusebio Pedroza, Wilfredo Gomez and Juan LaPorte.”
High praise, but is it deserved?
Many great fighters receive legacy boosts from their exploits in higher weight classes. But why do a fighter’s achievements at lightweight matter to his accomplishments at featherweight? Juan Manuel Marquez’s higher weight success should contribute to his overall worth as a great fighter not as a great featherweight.
Roberto Duran receives the same odd treatment. Duran’s terrifying reign at lightweight is noteworthy, certainly, but Duran only defeated one elite fighter at the weight. New Yorker Benny Leonard defeated five. Of course, Duran dominated the vast majority of his lightweight competition. Why, then, isn’t Californian Shane Mosley, who was 32-0 (30) and 9-0 in title fights at lightweight, given the same praise? It hinges on Duran’s successes against bigger fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Iran Barkley and
others. The thinking goes that if Duran was able to compete with larger opponents like them, what lightweight could stand in his way?
That thinking, however, is unfair to other fighters who relatively exclusively plied their trade at single weight classes. Roy Jones is considered by some to be the greatest super middleweight ever. Jones only won a single belt there, though, and had a scant twelve total fights in that division. Welshman Joe Calzaghe had forty-four fights at the 168-pound limit, and held each major title belt at one point or another. Why is Calzaghe’s meaty super middleweight resume even compared to Jones’ meager ledger? Roy Jones’ victories at light heavyweight and heavyweight should have little to no bearing on his standing as a super middleweight.
Juan Manuel Marquez went 5-1-1 in title fights at featherweight and drew with the best fighter he fought at 126 pounds. Salvador Sanchez went 10-0 in title fights at featherweight, and defeated four arguably elite fighters there. Sandy Saddler beat up Willie Pep three out of four times. Even the brash Naseem Hamed, before being embarrassed by Marquez’s countryman Marco Antonio Barrera, accomplished more than Marquez at featherweight.
Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the greatest and most accomplished fighters of the last thirty years, and remains a fighter who would have been competitive with any like-sized opponent of any era. That does not mean he was one of the best and greatest featherweights ever.
Restricting the praise to featherweight does a disservice to both the scope of Marquez’s ability and the greatness of the featherweights who had come before him.
- Kelly Pavlik looked a little ridiculous throwing lead hooks and uppercuts a few weeks ago. King Arthur would consider such reckless technique treasonous…
- So Bernard Hopkins wants to take Tomasz Adamek’s cruiserweight title? Adamek only has a single loss, after all. Who was that to, again?
- Kudos to David Haye for taking a backseat to Richard Schaefer in negotiations with heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. Shame on him for being rather selfish in the first place, though. When even the British media thinks their fighter is being unfair, you know it’s true…
- I said over a month ago that HBO has been killing it with their schedule, yet I’ve only seen two top writers pat the cable giant on the back. Maybe the others think it’s too good to be true…
- Roy Jones thinks Bernard Hopkins picked “the right” guys in his late career. So was Joe Calzaghe just “the wrong” guy for both of them? And didn’t Hopkins dominate the same Tarver that made Jones look silly? Right and wrong isn’t so black and white, I guess…
- Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton seemed in good spirits when they kicked off their press tour. Don’t know what Hatton meant when he said he was already in fantastic shape, though. Ricky, we can see the fried foods dripping from your cheeks. There’s no need to lie…
- Anyone see Shane Mosley’s face when Marquez called out Floyd Mayweather, Jr.? Priceless…
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