No Hometown Cooking for Juan Diaz. Marquez Wins by KO in Nine
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Mar 1, 2009) Photo © Will Hart /HBO Sports  
This was a great fight! Juan “The Baby Bull” Diaz (34-2, 17 KO’s) took the boldest fight of his career Saturday night, when he faced Elite Lightweight star, Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4, 1- 36 KO’s) at the Toyota Center in Houston Texas . Marquez is considered by many to be one of the best fighters in all of boxing. At 35 years old, Marquez has a string of wars on his resume against some of the best in the business. The prize for this fight would be the WBA/WBO and IBO Lightweight straps.

Early on, it looked like Diaz would overwhelm Marquez into submission with his furious volume of punches. But Marquez proved his mettle once again, after discovering the best weapon to bring down the young bull—was the uppercut. That punch fit nicely between Diaz’ buzz saw of punches. I saw Marquez win the third and fourth, then he took over the momentum from round six on. Marquez’ uppercuts became the blueprint for breaking Diaz down. Preceded by a left hook, it was a right uppercut that ended the night for Diaz in the ninth round.

Unlike that one-sided, predictable garbage that was on last weekend’s Pay-Per-View, featuring Kelly Pavlik and Miguel Cotto against soft opposition, Marquez vs. Diaz was an all action fight, blessed with the drama of NOT knowing who was going to win. Hey, any fight involving Juan Diaz promises to be exciting. I thought Diaz easily won the first two rounds with his imposing style of continuous punching and cutting off the ring. Marquez even looked a bit old trying to keep up with the young Diaz early on. Diaz high work rate was finding Marquez a hittable target. I thought Marquez landed the cleaner shots in the third, but was again out-hustled in the fourth and fifth rounds by the younger, faster and wilder Diaz.

In the sixth round, Diaz was still charging forward, cutting off the ring and banging the slower Marquez into the ropes. After being out-hustled for 2/3rds of the sixth, Marquez ignited a shift in momentum after tagging Diaz with uppercuts between his guard. From that point on, Marquez was in charge, out-boxing Diaz and landing the better punches. Diaz continued to press and try to overwhelm Marquez with aggressive flurries. Marquez traded toe to toe with him and landed the cleaner shots. Marquez landed an uppercut combo that rocked Diaz, who came back with a left hook that scored. Diaz’ most effective punch in the fight was his left hook.

In the eighth, Marquez landed a left uppercut that opened a cut over Diaz’ right eye. Marquez rallied with a flurry of uppercuts and jabs. Diaz responded with a rally of his own, winging punches like a windmill. Again, Marquez landed the right uppercut. Diaz was a bit rattled and Marquez smelled blood—he landed a left hook that staggered Diaz, who tried to make like he wasn’t as hurt as his legs were suggesting he was. Marquez patiently went in for the kill, picking his shots and landing a left uppercut that caused the cut over Diaz’ eye to spit blood. As they exchanged punches, Marquez got away with a low blow. Diaz answered with a big right but was becoming ever more vulnerable to Marquez precision punching, namely the uppercut.

Marquez took advantage of the unfolding chinks in Diaz’ armor in the ninth round, where after some initial back and forth between them, Marquez landed a clean left hook that stunned Diaz, who charged forward, throwing punches but Marquez out-boxed him. Diaz wisely shifted to using his jab, landing three in a row. Marquez answered with a right, left, right, left that sent Diaz to the canvas! Diaz was up by the count of seven, ready to rumble. Marquez attacked from the outside, focusing on some combos to the body then upstairs to the head. A left hook wobbled Diaz and Marquez went for the finish, dropping Diaz with a right uppercut that knocked him out.

Marquez succeeded in taking the fate of this fight out of the Judge’s hands. Who knows how they would have scored this fight if it went the distance? The commentators on HBO were discussing how the Judges might favor the hometown Diaz, almost readying the viewers for some more official shenanigans. I thought Chris John beat Rocky Juarez 8-4 in the under-card bout but the official Judges scored it a unanimous Draw.

During the post fight interview, Marquez said he wants to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. When asked why, he said that since Manny Pacquaio doesn’t want to fight him in a rubber match, and he’s supposedly the “best pound for pound fighter in boxing” then he wants Floyd, who’s the other best p4p in boxing. I doubt Floyd would take a fight with Marquez for a few reasons, mostly financial. Marquez has beaten some of the top guys in the 135 pound division already, beating Rocky Juarez by UD 12 and knocking out Joel Casamayor in 11 last September. Clearly Marquez wants redemption against Pacquaio but it seems unlikely the Filipino super star has anything to gain from a rubber match against Marquez at this point.

As for Juan Diaz, though he lost this fight, he really has grown into a strong fighter that produces exciting fights. Diaz also seems willing to face top guys these days and I’m sure he’ll rise again. Diaz, at 25, is the future. Marquez at 35 and with 55 pro fights under his belt represents the old guard. I think Diaz should keep fighting the top guys because he is certainly one of them. Diaz’ two losses came at the hands of big punchers with solid boxing skills. It would serve him well to work on improving his defense a bit and to keep fighting the best, if he wants to be the best. Congratulations to Juan Manuel Marquez for an impressive win and to Juan Diaz for making it a hell of a fight!

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