By Mark F. Villanueva
Back when I was small I would get up early in the morning and watch the vacant streets of where we once lived, tracing it far past my cousin’s house and that huge Star Apple tree, far down to the river. Watching from our rooftop I would climb even farther up to thirty feet in our radio antenna just to know how it looks like to be on top of everything because when you’re that high up sometimes even taller buildings from a distance seem to appear a tad below you.
One thing I truly admire about the Mexican boxer, Juan Manuel Marquez is his willingness to chase his dreams, no matter how far up he has to move in weight just to fulfill his dreams. If I have to think of one word that would best describe his characteristics as a man behind the prizefighter, it would be a “dreamer”. After his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. when he also had to pack up a huge weight difference it is as if its apparent effects on his poor performance have not become a deterrent to his quest for a future fight with the Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao. The way I see it, it is not as if the Mexican has not learned from his mistakes. Instead, it appears like Marquez is not going to let his mistakes prevent him from pursuing his dreams. Not only does he have to give in to the weight demands to fulfill this fight, but he’ll be on a huge disadvantage with his age, which is considerably advanced in the prizefighting realm. To be where he is now, he had to keep himself sharp and by that he fought fierce competitors such as Michael Katsidis and “Baby Bull” Diaz, and even Floyd Mayweather Jr. at Welterweight just to prove to the world that he is fully equipped and up to the challenge, or whatever odds are evidently preventing him from another encounter with Pacquiao. The last time I saw Juan Manuel Marquez personally was when he came to the Philippines and challenged Pacquiao to fight him one more time, which I don’t find to be the smartest of moves. I honestly do not have the slightest admiration for whiners. At that moment he took the microphone and blurted his emotions I couldn’t help but run in my mind thoughts of a cry baby begging for something, and Pacquiao was just being a class act at that time smiling; not even a hint of being offended or about to get mixed up in a heated conversation.
While it is true that styles do make fights and it’s become an established fact over the past encounters that “Dynamita” Marquez has the best boxing style to offset Pacquiao’s in and out, unrelenting offense many believe the former won’t be able to handle the highly improved Pound for Pound champion. He has upgraded his fight game arsenal in so many aspects over the years while maintaining his vaunted speed and stamina. And the power Pacquiao has at this point of his boxing career is just tremendous, so just imagine the difficulty of fighting him now. Offensive game aside, just think of how much Pacquiao’s defense has improved; the lateral movements, the experience and lessons he has learned fighting and defeating a series of boxing greats at the higher divisions. It’s almost like an entirely new ball game now. If Marquez had a hard time against him in the past the odds of success in trading punches with him now is so overwhelmingly against his favor, even to some extent where his safety up in the ring could be argued by some as a real issue. Many boxing pundits believe Marquez could be destroyed up there, and when you analyze it all in paper the basis for that is not too far flung at all.
The slow-starter, Juan Manuel Marquez, who is also very crafty may have shown stability in his last few fights and have raised brows of many critics for being able to hold on and still perform well at his age, but I don’t think we can expect him to improve any further from this standpoint. He is more likely to be the same boxer Manny fought to a controversial win, while the latter has improved so much now. But the sport of Boxing is like life in that it is peculiar. You just cannot discount a dreamer.
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Born and raised in the Southern Philippines, a region with a vast history of cultivating past and current world boxing champions including Pound 4 Pound King Manny Paquiao.
Mark currently lives in Iloilo City and is a graduate of Political Science at the USC in Cebu City but later on dropped out of Law School after a personal realization that a dry and frigid legal system sparked very little to no interest in his mindset.
Some of Mark’s works are published in other top boxing sites such as Phil Boxing, Pacland, and NowBoxing.