Floyd Mayweather Jr KO’s Juan Manuel Marquez In Court of Public Opinion
By Brandon Estrict, DoghouseBoxing.com (May 29, 2009)  
Floyd Mayweather is far too big for Juan Manuel Marquez. Their Welterweight clash this coming July 18th, 2009 from Las Vegas, Neveda is little more than a glorified tune-up because though Marquez is the number two rated pound-for-pound fighter in the world, he is a Lightweight. The Undisputed Lightweight Champion of the world actually, an honor bestowed on “Dinimita” last year after moving up to the Lightweight Division(135 lb.) to stop then lineal champ, Joel Casamayor, and further cemented when he came from behind to KO the division’s runner-up, Juan Diaz, in an all-action instant classic. Marquez absorbed his fair share of punishment in return though, and at 35 years old seems to be more keen on brawling it out, letting his skill dictate the latter portion of the fight after he’s outlasted his opponent, something that Mayweather, who regularly preaches the value of an adequate defense in extending your career while keeping your facilities intact, has surely had to have taken notice of.

The question on everyone’s mind, friend and foe, cynic and apologist, has been why would Floyd return to the ring to accept this challenge from a man two divisions’ south of his own last recorded fighting weight, when he has Sugar Shane Mosley, coming off a dominant stoppage-win over an opponent many have accused Mayweather of ducking, reigning over the Welterweight roost? The reality is, whether or not Shane Mosley can draw fans and the type of cash the “Pretty Boy” is looking for, there’s almost no way to justify Floyd fighting Marquez when Floyd hasn’t weighed in under 146 lbs. in nearly 4 calendar years. Then you’ve got the Wild-card, boxing’s current Kingpin, Manny Pacquiao, who has done nothing since Mayweather embarked on his latest hiatus from the sport, but continually blow bigger guys away, two of which are opponents who’d a year or two earlier shared a ring with Mayweather. As is well documented, Pacquiao stopped both in more devastating fashion and has been crowned by the media, the hard-core and casual fans as the man, having came up the hard way. So with seemingly so much on his plate, why would Floyd not look to challenge himself right out of the gate?

Answer: Why rush?

While the critics continue to call for his head, Floyd Mayweather seems to glide along unfazed. He’ll be making a guaranteed $15 million for this fight, the Pacquiao-Hatton numbers have proven him to be boxing’s top draw ADLH(After De La Hoya), and upon the much anticipated announcement of his inevitable return to the sport last month, he’s been the talk of boxing universe.

“I don’t care if you talk bad about me as long as you’re talking about me.”

This is another of Floyd’s mantras, that staying relevant supersedes being hated and that all press is good press. Just check the boxing chat forums at such respected websites as Doghouse Boxing, Max Boxing and ESPN, where Mayweather owns every front-page. It’s why he chose to juggle training for his fight with Ricky Hatton in 2007, with a fairly long stint on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. He would also appear in a no-holds barred professional wrestling match at the WWE’s annual blockbuster, Wrestlemania, just 3 months after stopping then-undefeated Ricky Hatton. And it doesn’t stop there.

Mayweather repeatedly made national headlines over the course of his retirement, making the news for having his jewelery, valued at $7 million, taken from his home, being on bad terms with Uncle Sam, owing back-taxes in excess of $6 million reportedly(no word on if this situation has been rectified at press time) all the while promoting the Nation-Wide “I Am Music” tour through his own entertainment company, a tour which featured acts such as Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Beyonce Knowles and Chris Brown among many others.

As for his upcoming encounter with Marquez? Well, there are a million and one reasons that it shouldn’t be happening, why it has no bearing on Floyd’s prospects with Welterweights and why it shouldn’t be recognized as a legitimate event. Sure. But all of those reasons have been listed, repeated and debated over amongst boxing fans ever since the fight materialized. Many of the critics even make valid arguments to support their feelings, and in all, it seems to be in tune with the general consensus of boxing’s respected inner-circles.

Again, in due time. Not so widely reported has been the fact that Floyd Mayweather has signed a deal with Golden Boy to co-promote his next 4-5 fights. With Marquez coming first, and Pacquiao likely to follow, it seems inevitable that Floyd would have to get his hands dirty with a Mosley, Cotto/Clottey in the not-so-distant future. Hence his agreement with Golden Boy, as he would have his buffer in place, Richard Shcaeffer, between his team and former promoter-turned enemy, Bob Arum, who could otherwise potentially stand in the way of clashes with Cotto and Pacquiao.

All of the reasons that this wasn’t the fight for Mayweather to take having been established, I will not re-hash and recycle another piece on the same topics to push down your throats. Instead, here are a few reasons the fight is, in fact, somewhat viable:

AGE

Though Juan Manuel Marquez is 35 years old, he’s been active throughout his career, hasn’t taken as much damage as most, and seems to have saved his best for last. He’s aged like a fine-wine, displaying brilliant skill and power in his most recent bouts and is RING Magazine’s 2nd best fighter in the world. Floyd Mayweather, while also still in his prime, isn’t as young anymore as he often behaves. “Money” May is now 32 years of age, and will be coming off of a nineteen month layoff when he enters the ring. Floyd’s shoulder-roll defense is a fighting style that many a trainer would tell you requires year-round maintenance and activity to upkeep, and is most effective when kept well-oiled as the skill-level involved in executing this particular technique effectively is nothing short of elite. Ever wonder why more fighters don’t employ it? It is conceivable that Floyd, regardless of what he claims to promote this fight, won’t be at his customary optimum level physically, at least not early on.

POWER

As you all know, Juan Manuel Marquez will be moving from the Lightweight limit of 135 lb. all the way up to 144 lb., just shy of the Welterweight limit. On paper, it’s a challenge that not many have been able to overcome, but Marquez, who is known to have a superior chin, will not find an imposing, physical type of fighter waiting for him on the other end. Floyd Mayweather is known as a tactician, a great technical fighter with vaunted counter-punching ability, but not much of a puncher. In stopping two-thirds of his opponents, you’d argue that Floyd does have decent pop, but not much more, and prefers to play it safe, keeping his work-rate very economical and throwing one punch at a time. Floyd’s biggest weapon may be his accuracy, but pot-shotting a sound defensive fighter in Marquez who is as known for his counter-punching as Floyd is may actually be detrimental. On the flip-side, Marquez himself seems to possess very underrated punching power. He’s stopped his last two opponents, Casamayor and Diaz, both in his first two fights in the Lightweight division. Being the first man to stop either one is saying something when those opponents had previously shared a ring with the likes of the late Diego Corrales, Acelino Freitas, Nate Campbell, Jose Luis Castillo and Michael Katsidis.

SIZE

The major stumbling-block in the way of this bout being recognized as a serious fight between two of the world’s top fighters, Manny Pacquiao’s dominant victory over Oscar De La Hoya be damned! Now I do recognize that this situation isn’t as comparable. Pacquiao appears to be a better candidate than does Marquez to compete at higher weights. And there’s little chance, if any, that Floyd Mayweather will be as dead at the weight as De La Hoya, so we’ll throw this one out the window. Make no mistake, Floyd is a bigger man that Juan Manuel. But there are a few things that have been overlooked.

Marquez started his professional career in 1993 as a 19-year old Featherweight(he would move down to Super-Bantamweight soon after) whereas Floyd started his own career in 1996 as a 19 year-old Junior Lightweight. We’re talking a difference of 4 pounds, 126 lbs. for Marquez, 130 lbs. for Floyd Mayweather. While it is true that Marquez has spent the majority of his 16 year career between the Featherweight and Jr. Lightweight division, with one appearance at Lightweight back in 1996, the year of Mayweather’s introduction to the sport, the same can be said for Mayweather who fought his largest chunk of time between Lightweight and Jr. Lightweight. Over his 13 years in the sport, Floyd has been above 135 lbs. for nearly 6 of those years with the remainder of his time spent reigning over the other 130 and 135 lb. fighters around him. Marquez and Mayweather are separated only by an inch and height and 5 inches in reach, both in favor of Floyd. By these standards, this fight has just as much credibility, if not more, than Felix Trinidad or Oscar De La Hoya taking on Bernard Hopkins, or recently, David Haye moving up to Heavyweight to challenge the gargantuan Wladimir Klitschko. Mayweather and Marquez are far more comparable in size than any pair of those combatants.

THE OUTCOME

The size difference between the two isn’t as significant as the divisional difference is. Obviously, Marquez has a tall order in jumping two divisions for this fight, though the two will probably weigh around the same thing on fight night. There’s no way around it. However, I’ve always refused to believe in the weight as a be-all, end-all between two world-class, skilled boxers. What this fight will come down to is skills. Will Marquez, who will arguably be the best fighter Floyd’s ever been in the squared circle with, pedigree, competition and activity prove to much for the returning Mayweather? Or, will Floyd pick up where he left off in 2007, and come out at the top of his game? The answer to those questions will decide the outcome. I see Marquez attempting to lead in this fight, and if he catches Mayweather on a bad night, he’s got a real shot at out-working Floyd to a close-decision. On the other hand, Marquez was stung by both Pacquiao and Diaz, in his most recent fights, when reaching for his right cross and also, on occasion, when throwing his deadly uppercut from a little too far away, two things that can prove fatal to his chances against a bigger guy with better range who may just be the most pin-point accurate puncher in the sport.

If I were a betting man, I’d take a Mayweather Decision as the safest bet, but the first 3 rounds of this fight will tell the story. How will Marquez look at the weight, and will he carry his power with him? How sharp and elusive will a 32 year-old Floyd be after the longest lay-off of his life, and does he have visions of Manny Pacquiao dancing around the back of his head? If that is indeed the case, it could be Marquez dancing around the ring as the back of Floyd’s head touches the canvas.

Don’t put anything past either of these boxing savants. Whether this fight were made at 130, 135, 140 or 160, I have a feeling the outcome would be etched in stone. Both of these men are capable of anything in a boxing ring, two masters of the sweet science I’d be hard pressed to bet against no matter the odds or perceived disadvantage. Tune into HBO PPV on July 18th, as someone’s in for a rude awakening. We could be in for a real sleeper, and I mean everything but a boring fight
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