AWOL- The Marquez-Pacquiao Debate Rages On
By Jim Cawkwell (July 30, 2004) 
It is often the case that a fight generates more questions for discussion than it succeeds in answering. Though a Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao rematch appears to be a distant possibility at present, the gloves are most definitely off between those of us who are asking why this situation seems condemned to remain unresolved for the foreseeable future. My bloated e-mail inbox can attest to the fact that emotions still run high regarding the first altercation between these two featherweights. Indeed, although I wrote the original AWOL article from a neutral perspective, questioning the motives of a fine Mexican champion meant that I incurred the wrath of his fans.

Of course, there is hardly a point in posting the congratulatory comments I received from fans upon writing the article, of which there was a significant Mexican contingent. Therefore, I have decided to address the points that drew the ire of certain fans, compelling them to express their views, often in a rather 'colorful' manner. Certainly, I was quite unaware of the concept of the 'nut hugger' as it were before receiving some of the feedback; I am still not privy to the historical or social significance of the 'nut hugger' but the term would appear to hold a certain unhygienic connotation at first glance. I’m kidding, it is okay to relax sometimes you know? Okay folks, let’s dive in at the deep end of the AWOL: Marquez-Pacquiao Rematch mailbag.

'Manny is good and feared by a lot of fighters but if you were paying attention witch it clearly seems like you were not you might have heard Marquez say that if this rematch is that important to the Pacman he should go out and get belt first and then come and unify them. Take into consideration that Marquez is the champ and is taking all the risk putting up his two belts. Pacman should fight Injin-chi beat him and then come after Marquez with something to put on the offering table.'

A O Jr.

JC: It is nonsense for Marquez to have fought Pacquiao without a recognized world featherweight title, and now that they have fought one another to a standstill with Pacquiao more than acquitting himself, Marquez insists that Pacquiao requires a title to 'earn' a rematch. We all have an opinion on the fight and a version of its scoring, but in truth, our verdicts on the events of that fight are irrelevant. If not for an admitted error from Judge Burt Clements in scoring the first round 10-7 instead of 10-6, Manny Pacquiao would be the unified featherweight champion; the outcome favored Marquez by a single point and in my opinion the onus is on him to rectify that as the champion instead of deflecting the importance of a rematch and attacking Pacquiao’s credibility.

'hi.. i read your article about the pacquiao-marquez rematch.. i'm a filipino and a big fan of manny..haven't you heard that during their first encounter..manny blistered his foot because he bought a cheap socks at convenience store in cali and also he hurt his left hand in the early rounds..i could say it was a big blow for a sure win because manny couldn't get his footwork that devastated barrera..i'm sure if they meet again and manny won't commit the same mistake marquez won't last long..i know marquez still feels the pain of being knocked out thrice and how hard manny punches that's why he avoid him for a rematch..thank you. there's no offense.i'm just informing you.'


JC: I was aware of Pacquiao’s physical shortcomings and the alleged cheap sock story but all I can offer in response to these matters is a simple 'so what?' Physical debilitation suffered during a fight is part of Pacquiao’s territory as an elite level prizefighter, such instances are unfortunate and as much as they may have had a bearing on the outcome of the fight, they are things that a fighter must overcome. I hope that neither Pacquiao nor Marquez will be inconvenienced by any niggling injury before or during the rematch. Finally, I have the least sympathy for Pacquiao’s 'cheap sock syndrome'. If Manny Pacquiao is going to enter the most vital fight of his professional career wearing inadequate ring attire, especially of the type which may affect his performance, that is something that would be ridiculous to sympathize with.

'Do some research into the amount of $ that were paid out two the two fighters in their first fight and look at what they are suggesting for the second one and you have a story with substance and depth.  Marquez is the champion.  Pacquiao has no belts and respect and pride are the issues of concern here.  By the way, Marquez will make it look like the first fight minus the first round next time.  You will see.
Peace out,'
Scott – Philly

JC: Money is the great communicator in boxing, and as much as I was aware of the financial situation surrounding the fighters, synonymous with the theme of the second part of this message, I felt this example was one where cerebral elements such as pride and respect deserved greater recognition. Contrary to the suggestion in this message, I think that Manny Pacquiao has gained ample respect and admiration for his accomplishments, all without the need of a title. World championships still mean a lot in today’s boxing world but there have been several examples of fighters who have come to mean more to the title than the title has meant to them. Marco Antonio Barrera did not need a belt to be heralded as the finest featherweight in the world before Pacquiao dethroned him. I do not think it is too romantic of us to yearn for the world’s best fighters to crave recognition as the best in their respective divisions who will sacrifice their bodies and yes, even their money to do so, believe it or not, it has been done.
I believe that a true champion defines himself instead of relying on the accolades of objects he acquires throughout his journey.

'I just think that's difficult for a non-Spanish speaker to grasp the truth of this situation. You've only been exposed to one side of the story. Have you spoken with Marquez? Did you read his quotes in the Mexican newspapers? The bottom line is that they both wanted the rematch but the fight didn't come off for various reasons. Their management teams decided to go in another direction for now. No one called Barrera and Morales cowards for not locking horns immediately after their 1st fight. Is Roy Jones Jr. a coward because he's not fighting a grudge match with Tarver next?
We sometimes forget that these are once poverty stricken men who are now trying to make a living to financially secure their families for years to come. Marquez has worked hard to get to this point. At 31 years of age, with a few fights left in his tank, I don't fault him for taking on an Orlando Salido right now. We all know he has the heart of a thousand men. He'll most definitely take on one of the big three (Morales, Barrera, Pacquiao) after the September clash. When that happens, I hope your praise is parallel to your critique. Thanks.'


JC: I do not speak Spanish, or Tagalog the Filipino dialect, nor do I have the financial means to jet in and out of Mexico City or Manila to acquire the latest intimate thoughts of both fighters; even if I could, I would not necessarily consider them the gospel truth. As a writer, I research my subjects as diligently as possible and I will explain the conclusion I have reached. Wading through abundant and varied sources reveals many supposedly crystal-clear truths, slightly muddied half-truths and the absolute smokescreen of lies or propaganda. With an unbiased view, I attempt to weigh up all of the evidence and arrive at conclusions. None of us can claim to be one hundred percent correct, and yet, this fact does not invalidate the strength of our opinions nor the right they have to be heard.

A myriad of perceptions can be gathered from a single event, for example: When Erik Morales knocked out Fernando Velardez and proceeded to pose for photographs over his fallen body, some may perceive that as completely tasteless, whereas others might applaud Morales for exacting some measure of justice for the alleged disrespect Velardez had shown to the Tijuana fans when fighting Diego Morales, Erik’s brother.

Being a part time conspiracy theorist, I fully appreciate the problem of a mainstream media outlet neglecting to report an important perspective that would color the perception of the masses. Therefore, I would implore anyone with any exclusive knowledge and the platform to make it heard to do so, otherwise fight-fans will remain unacceptably unaware of matters that they have a right to access.

By definition, a professional fighter is immune to being perceived as a coward. Appearing hesitant to take a dangerous fight at a certain point of his career for whatever reason is realistic and can be justified in some cases. However, the affections of the millions of boxing fans worldwide is the ultimate currency a fighter can attain and their perceptions make a great deal of difference to his eventual historic placement. It is a truly special happening for a fighter to embrace this concept and fight, not just for money, but also in the name of greatness.
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