By Lamar Sparkman
It’s been a slow summer for boxing in a year that’s been fairly disappointing compared to the last few years. So tonight’s fight between World Boxing Organization/World Boxing Association lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez (50-5-1, 37 kos) and former titleholder Juan Diaz (35-3, 17 kos) comes at just the right time. It’s a rematch of 2009’s fight of the year and guarantees to be all action.
The bout takes place at the Mandalay Events Center on HBO Pay-Per-View and is a crossroads fight for Diaz who has lost 2 of his last 3 fights and even at the age of 26 needs a win to remain viable contender and a main event fighter. Since the loss to Marquez he won a controversial decision to Paulie Malignaggi and lost the rematch in a fight, which he looked below average and uninspired though both fights were at higher weights (catchweight139).
Marquez made a move up to welterweight and challenged Floyd Mayweather and was shut out for 12 rounds. The extra weight was clearly too much for his 5’7 frame, his reflexes and hand speed seemed slower and he never looked comfortable. He needs to win this fight in order to give himself options for bigger fights in the lightweight division or the currently loaded 140lb junior lightweight division. During fight week he has expressed interest in facing Amir Khan who will be ring side for the fight but his ultimate choice before he hangs the gloves up is a third fight with p4p king Manny Pacquiao.
I’ve had a hard time picking a winner for this fight because there are certain aspects that can’t be ignored. The obvious choice would be Marquez who is a 3-1 betting favorite but even though he is a better technical fighter I question how much the Mayweather fight took out of him. He suffered a lot of punishment in that fight regardless of what he has said leading up to this fight. When asked about it he said, “I am fine and I can still fight so why not? I love to do it and I love to give the people exciting fights.” Then there’s the weight issue, he’s coming back down to lightweight for this fight and at age 36 I wonder what toll it will take on his body especially if he didn’t drop back down properly. Conditioning will play a significant part in this fight because it could go the distance and Diaz is a volume puncher rarely giving his opponent a lot of rest time.
In the first fight Diaz pressed the action and threw a lot of punches, which seemed to catch Marquez off guard and briefly hurt him with a left hook in the second round but started to make adjustments and began to use Diaz’s aggression against him after the first few rounds.. By the 7th Marquez was successfully countering Diaz with precision punches and finally finished him with an uppercut in the ninth. It was an overall textbook fight by Marquez but Diaz has stated that he will be more disciplined this time and won’t let the crowd get him so “pumped up” and emotional. I think he will still apply pressure because that’s who he is but I think he’ll be more selective and smarter with his attack. If I had to pick a winner I would guess that Marquez hasn’t fell of that diving board since the first fight, he has gotten a good amount of rest between fights and I think his ring intelligence and experience will earn him a close decision or late round stoppage.
Also on the card are 3 very good fights on paper at least: Hot Golden Boy Contender Daniel Jacobs (20-0, 78 kos) vs. Dmitry Pirog (16-0,13 kos) for a vacant WBO Middleweight Belt, 12 rounds. Joel Casamayor (37-4-1, 22 kos) vs. Robert Guerrero (26-1-1, 18 kos) at junior welterweight, 10 rounds and Jorge Linares (28-1, 18kos) vs. Rocky Juarez (28-6-1, 20kos) at lightweight, 10 rounds.
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