Marquez outpoints Diaz
By Vikram Birring at ringside, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 4, 2010) Photo © German Villasenor  
What was expected to be a pier six brawl turned out to be more akin to a strategic chess match as Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez returned to the lightweight division to once again defeat fierce rival Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz in a return bout of 2009’s fight of the year.

Diaz, who last year stormed forward in the opening round, chose to circle to his left and pop jabs, his preference being three at a time, with occasional right hands or left hooks behind them. This strategy served him fairly well in the first three rounds, as he was able to dart in and out of danger effectively.

But then a funny thing happened. Diaz (35-4, 17 KO) stopped following up his multiple jabs, and Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KO) took advantage by initiating confrontation. He staggered Diaz in the fourth and sixth rounds. By this time, Diaz’s strategy of boxing should have been tossed out the window, because it was time to fight.

This did not happen until the eleventh round, when Diaz was far behind on the cards. Finally, he came forward with renewed vigor, and landed voraciously to Marquez’s head. But it was too little, too late. Just like in December against Paulie Malignaggi, Diaz mysteriously did not open up until late in the fight. He showed he still has the full steam ahead style when he wants to use it, but failures against Nate Campbell and Juan Manuel Marquez shook his confidence.

A boxer can always brawl if necessary, but it is difficult for a brawler to learn how to box. Though Diaz is most effective as swarming menace, the style has taken a toll on his body, one that may force him to bow out of a sport that made him an icon in his hometown. If so, we say thank you, to a great career, and for inspiring many children within his community, not just by boxing, but by his academic pursuits as well.

Daniel Jacobs’s train to middleweight superiority came to a screeching halt with one right cross from Russia’s Dmitry Pirog.

Coming into the bout, boxing insiders wondered if Jacobs was truly ready for Pirog, whose amateur experience matched Jacobs’s, and professional career had been against far tougher opposition up until this point. Outside of gatekeeper Ishe Smith, Jacobs had never truly been tested. Pirog had been facing excellent boxers from his fourth bout onwards, in which he faced an opponent with twenty-five victories in thirty bouts. In short, he was more prepared for the test that was in front of him.

Jacobs’s previous opponents were usually intimidated from the opening bell, perhaps even before, but Pirog appeared supremely confident at the weigh in and even more so once the bell rang. After a slow first round, Pirog (17-0, 14 KO) trapped Jacobs (20-1, 17 KO) against the ropes and nearly dropped him. If not for the ropes, Jacobs would have gone down, but referee Robert Byrd did not call a knockdown.

Still, Jacobs boxed well at times, especially in the fourth round, when he boxed and moved effectively, even in a southpaw stance.

But there were still troubling signs. When he hit Pirog with his hardest punch, a bullet-like right cross, the Russian laughed in his face and asked for more. The feeling of knowing you have just given your best, and knowing it is not good enough is an empty feeling that is indescribable. Jacobs knew this as he walked to his corner, looking a bit disenchanted as he accepted this.

A boxing match is the only place in sport, where a split second, at any time, can erase the past, create a wondrous future, wake up the insomniac, and engage euphoria all at the same time.

Dmitry Pirog’s right hand is the perfect exhibit.

Pirog walked forward, slightly cocked his right arm back, and landed a booming right hand to Jacobs’s left cheek.

The result was a visual masterpiece.

The skin on Jacobs’s face appeared as if it wanted to rip off, but was barely held in place by the blood vessels inside the epidermis.

His right arm fell down, and his body followed.

It landed on its right side, only to roll solidly on the back.

Referee Byrd counted to five, then simply stopped and called the fight off.

Jacobs immediately popped up, only to comically be pushed back down by Byrd. After this show of authority, Jacobs did not object. But in his heart, he wanted a chance to continue. It is the ultimate humiliation to not finish a bout to a boxer, despite the odds against him. Only such a person who chooses a profession in which the goal is to knock his opponent unconscious can make such justification seem slightly logical in his own mind.

The two careers of the combatants are headed in opposite directions. Pirog has been mentioned for an opponent to the reigning world middleweight champion, flashy Argentine Sergio Martinez. His punch created a star better than any marketing plan could.

Jacobs is back to the drawing board. Despite the perfect scenario, the top promoter in the sport along with the best manager, and a plethora of television exposure, in the ring none of it mattered, and he was disposed of in stunning fashion. Pirog treated Jacobs as if he did not belong in the same ring.

Jacobs is in a tough predicament. He has reached elite level status in opposition, and cannot move down. Yet he may not truly be to face other elites after this disappointing performance. But he has no choice, there is no going down on the rung of the ladder, and all opposition will be tough now. He has to live up to the hype that once had him ranked as the top prospect in the world. Time will tell if he is able to achieve the prophecy that was formed for him.

Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (27-1-1, 1 NC, 18 KO) had some fans wishing they could disappear during his bout, as he defeated faded veteran Joel “El Cepillo” Casamayor (37-5-1, 22 KO) of Cuba at a weight far past both their best. The only interesting moment was in the tenth round, when Casamayor dropped Guerrero seemingly out of nowhere, but was unable to finish him off. Scores were 98-89, 98-89, 97-90.

Rocky Juarez’s path to the ever-elusive world title seemed to finally end as Venezuela’s ultra-confident Jorge Linares (29-1, 18 KO) delivered a vicious beating for ten rounds. As the norm throughout his career, Juarez (28-7-1, 20 KO) simply did not throw enough, and this time even if he did, one wonders if it would have been enough against the taller, stronger, faster, and younger Linares. Juarez may leave boxing with a career unfulfilled, but tried hard and always remained humble, and for that will always have fans’ respect.

Questions or comments,
Vikram at:

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