By Reni M. Valenzuela
A man is better known by the odds he surmounted in as much as the measure of an athlete is determined by the opponents he conquered. Going by the correct standard, a certain boxing “sensation” today wears a kind of crown not his own and receives accolades he doesn’t deserve.
Who is Juan Manuel Marquez, the boxer?
Marquez is a great boxer but not as great as he appears every time he figures in a ring battle with Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. Perspective would tell us that Marquez has three people in his whole boxing career to be thankful for not to mention his long-time chief handler. It seems fitting that Marquez should acknowledge these persons to be the major factors for his current stature in the sport and why he reached this far.
First and foremost is Manny Pacquiao. It was only when Marquez was matched with Pacquiao for their 2004 initial encounter that many fans got to hear and know about Marquez, the boxer, in the same way that Pacquiao was first noticed when he quickly destroyed Lehlo Benedict Ledwaba in 2001 to capture the IBF Super Bantamweight title.
But Pacquiao didn’t stop with Ledwaba. Pacman subsequently defeated several strong opponents in phenomenal succession and in breath-taking fashions until his conquest of pound-for-pound kings and future hall-of-famers Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.
But Pacquiao didn’t stop with Morales and Barrera. Pacman mauled afterward Lightweight champion David Diaz as he continues climbing from one weight division to another and refuses to duck challenges. Then as a heavy underdog versus Oscar Dela Hoya on December 6, 2008, Pacman battered the legendary US Olympic gold medalist into submission as Dela Hoya refused to heed the bell after the eighth round of their touted but maligned Welterweight “Dream (Mis) Match.”
Again, Pacman didn’t stop with Dela Hoya. Next to Golden Boy he beat with ease more stars and giants in higher categories up to Light Middleweight from Ricky Hatton, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley until the point that his 15-bout winning streak was broken (though he won) due to daylight robbery by the judges who handed the championship belt void of value and in silver platter to muscle-man Timothy Bradley last year.
On the other hand, with the exception of Barrera whom Marquez wrestled hard to beat by few points in contestable official scorecards, Marquez overcame no extraordinary opponents prior to and from his 2004 controversial fight with Pacquiao leading to his stunning knockout “magic” win over the same nemesis during their fourth face-off just last December 8.
Oddly, Marquez lost via unanimous decision in 2006 to Chris John, a lesser known boxer from Indonesia. Then afterward bloodied Marquez struggled against smaller Juan Diaz during their first of two fights before being brought back silly to school by defense wizard Floyd Mayweather Jr. on July 18, 2009. Prior to all of these, Marquez lost to Freddie Norwood, a mediocre southpaw from Missouri whose wins in his resume were against fellow mediocre boxers.
Marquez fought Pacquiao for the second time in 2008 through which equally controversial bout the Marquez star rose higher. Then on November 12, 2011, the Pacquiao-Marquez III got finally materialized wherein Marquez gained the affection and support of many of those who witnessed the bout including yours truly and several observers/experts because of his loss in the scorecards when he was largely seen and believed to be the winner in that trilogy event.
Thus Marquez isn’t as great and admirable in the absence of Pacquiao.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, is another person to which Marquez owes gratitude aplenty for his series of fights with Pacquiao. Roach is the second reason why Juan Manuel Marquez is “Juan Manuel Marquez” these days simply on account of Roach’s failure to train and guide Pacquiao to counter the counterpunching style of Marquez.
Because of Roach, Marquez has become more of an irony for Pacquiao than a puzzle in view of the fact that Marquez is less competitive an opponent for the Filipino boxing hero as compared to a number of bigger, stronger and more skillful boxers that Pacman knocked out and defeated in lopsided manners from 2004 to 2012. It is not that Marquez has the numbers of Pacquiao. It is that Roach has no numbers to count beyond the number of rounds that Pacquiao sparred in Wild Card Gym.
But Marquez has evolved to be a super “superstar” nonetheless. And it came about overnight, just a month ago. All of a sudden, Marquez is the “Fighter of the Year.” The Quadrilogy garnered several year-end awards such as the “Fight of the Year,” the “Round of the Year,“ the “Punch of the Year,” the “Knockout of the Year,” the “Event of the Year,” the “Top-Grosser of the Year,” “Spectacle of the Year,” and the “Shock of the Century.” Marquez suddenly bloats out of proportion. Thanks to another important man in his boxing career.
Guillermo Hernandez aka Angel Heredia is the third and key person for Marquez’s rise to high heavens lately.
The “angel” has a colorful background in the world of illegal substance or Performance Enhancing Drug among athletes in various sports. He was hired by Marquez as a camp “scientist” for strength and conditioning midway through his training for the third Pacquiao battle. Heredia was mainly credited for the instantaneous physical transformation, abrupt/surprising superior strength and unbelievable “one-punch knockout power” of the 39 year-old “semi-retired” or soon-to-be-retired tired boxer heading to the Pacquiao-Marquez IV.
The two knockdowns of well-shaped Pacquiao by Marquez in that quadrilogy shocker are amazing sights to behold, beyond wild imagination, too good to be true and mind-boggling in light of the three previous Pacquiao-Marquez bouts. Pacquiao was never floored by Marquez before the quadrilogy voodoo exhibition, but Pacman knocked down Marquez with real, clean and easy shots four times.
Hence the situation in the Pacquiao-Marquez IV warrants PED hypotheses and justifies suspicions not only from Team Pacquiao but from among the boxing community. Marquez has repeatedly said he is “clean.” But that’s what he repeatedly claims, just what he is repeatedly “sounding off.”
“The entire boxing world was outrageously dumbfounded at Pacquiao’s dethronement by way of a devilishly-contrived program, wickedly employed by JMM’s conditioning coach Angel Heredia…” – Hermie Rivera (Boxing expert since Ali days, promoter and veteran sports media man).
Some pundits blame Pacquiao’s slippage for the “shocks.” But that’s far from the truth because Pacquiao hasn’t slipped yet. He merely slept in round six and simply dived backwards in round three, both courtesy of a magician.
Marquez owes a great deal to Pacquiao. It is Pacquiao who elicits interest from among boxing aficionados on any Marquez news and it is Pacquiao who puts relevance on the topic when the name Marquez is mentioned.
Marquez finds the excitement ingredient to his boxing menu solely from Pacman.
Take Pacquiao out of the Marquez picture and we’ll have a better and realistic view of the Mexican counter-punching “power.”
Such is the reason therefore why Top Rank, for business purposes, had not allowed and will not allow Marquez to fight a legitimate strong opponent until Pacquiao retires. But when the “Mexicutioner” retires, Marquez would be retired as well. And when that happens, the greatness or “greatness” of a Juan Manuel Marquez, the boxer, will forever be put in big, big question. And some opinionated boxing “intellectuals” who hate truth and who hate Pacman would be justly humbled, along with a host of bias “block dwellers” in the land of cruel pugilism and modern sports barbarism.
Pacman is decisive to fight again until probably he returns the “shock fall” favor to Marquez and conquers few more Goliaths before hanging up his gloves for good. Even against the advice of his wife and mother for him to retire due to a “ring-slumber” caused by “salamankeros” and as a result of last week’s “responsible” and “scientific” public Parkinson diagnosis “administered” publicly, miles away from the patient, by now famous medical doctors, Pacquiao promises a Douglas McArthur generic, “I shall return!”
But it will be no surprise, as already intimated by the “astute” promoter, if Pacquiao and Marquez would be fighting for a trillion times to break history and future records. The Pacquiao-Marquez circus intends to surpass the Sugar Ray Robinson-Jake Lamotta saga of rematches which long series of affair ended with romantic Robinson, for the love of the sport, shining brightly against Lamotta to become the king of hearts in their sixth and final rendezvous on Valentine’s Day of l951.
If Marquez will not fight veritable, good caliber boxers, Marquez won’t be engaging in any meaningful fight in the future except the fight opposite Pacquiao. And if the Pacquiao-Marquez V is indeed in the works in the wake of Pacquiao-Marquez IV, let it be the fight next for Pacquiao and Marquez, nothing in between.
“Carnival shows” or tune-up fights would negate the high-altitude atmosphere created by the quadrilogy. They would only weaken the animated momentum and would sap energy to lessen enthusiasm and craving of the fans for another heavy-drama flick. If Pacquio and Marquez are fighting again, so be it in September or April, against each other.
Marquez is very “lucky.” He has been preserved up to this time exclusively for Pacquiao fights. Hence my congratulations to Marquez for such a great, fantabulous privilege and for having the three, rather four, precious wonderful people in his rich and successful “telenovela-like” Latino fable: Pacquiao, Roach, Heredia and Bob Arum.
Clearly and aptly, Marquez is “Dinamita,” BUT only versus Pacman.
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