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Is Juan Manuel Marquez the Featherweight Winky Wright?
Juan Angel Zurita (May 3, 2004) 
Juan Manuel Marquez
It took Winky Wright almost 10 years to finally land a superfight against one of the 147-154 pound superstars. Year after year he had to watch De La Hoya, Mosley, and Trinidad rake in the big money while garnering mass recognition. Just when he thought he was on the cusp of superstardom, he dropped a controversial decision to Fernando Vargas, the more marketable HBO action fighter. It would take him almost five years after that loss to finally get another crack at the big time. That’s the problem with being a fighter who is a high-risk/low-reward proposition. None of the big names will fight you unless they really have to. Just ask Juan Manuel Marquez, the reigning IBF/WBA Featherweight Champion.

Both Wright and Marquez share similar career parallels. Marquez was kept out of the big picture for what seemed like an eternity while fighters like Naseem Hamed, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Erik Morales all shared the division’s wealth. Hamed unashamedly avoided him for 22 straight months when Marquez was his mandatory and Barrera and Morales never uttered his name. When he finally landed an HBO spot, he too dropped a controversial decision. Four years later, Marquez landed a much bigger fight on HBO against Derrick Gainer. After pulling out of their bout a several times, Gainer finally climbed into the ring with Marquez only to mistakenly show up for a track meet instead of a unification match. Unfortunately, none of Marquez’s HBO appearances have had a significant impact on increasing his stock, but that has had more to do with the styles he’s been paired up against. Marquez has twice had the misfortune of facing the most difficult breed to deal with, stylistic nuisances, slick, mobile, speedy southpaws.

Fortuitously, this Saturday Marquez will be facing featherweight kingpin, Filipino idol, Manny Pacquaio, an action fighter with a style more well-suited for Marquez’s counter-punching technique. As he enters the biggest fighter of his 11 year career, Marquez is extremely confident of his chances and has vowed that his belts will stay in Mexico. However, though considered a formidable opponent, Marquez is perceived as a mere stepping stone by many. Proof lies in the fact that HBO and Pacquiao have already begun to look ahead at a possible Erik Morales clash for later in the year. But much like Wright killed all talks of Mosley/Trinidad, Marquez aims to replicate the feat.

Insulted by the lack of respect he’s been shown, Marquez would love nothing more than to prove to the boxing world that he’s no walkover. And he has a point. He’s the naturally bigger fighter and possesses power of his own. That’s not exactly the type of fighter that should be taken lightly. Wright, who isn’t known for his power, held a natural size advantage against Mosley and it proved to be a key factor in their fight. The same could hold true here.

When all was said and done, Wright showed the boxing world why he was one of the sport’s most avoided fighters by easily outclassing the highly-regarded Mosley. Marquez hopes to soon share a similar fate, as his monumental opportunity to shine has finally arrived.
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