Monday, May 29, 2023  |



Marquez is perfect foil for Mayweather

Fighters Network

LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. picked the perfect opponent for his comeback on July 18 at the MGM Grand.

The undefeated former pound-for-pound king, who announced Saturday afternoon that he’s returning to boxing, reportedly needs money to satisfy debts. That precluded a small-money tune-up fight, which might’ve been optimal.

Yet he certainly didn’t want the stiffest challenge possible, not after what will be a 19-month layoff.

So he chose Juan Manuel Marquez, a big-name fighter against whom he could make a healthy payday yet one who is probably too small and too slow to beat him.

Marquez also is one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound but he has fought most of his career at 126 pounds and has never fought about 135. Now, he’ll be fighting at a catch weight of 144 pounds, although the catch weight seems to be a point of contention.

Still, Mayweather, who left the sport as the pound-for-pound king, sees this as a first step back to the pinnacle of the sport. The next step? It could be the current king — Manny Pacquiao — if he beats Ricky Hatton here tonight.

“I’m her to reclaim what’s mine,” he said. “I’m the king. Nobody never took my throne, so how am I not the king if no one ever took my throne?”

Marquez, THE RING’s No. 2 fighter pound for pound, knows the risk. He’s stepping up one and a half weight classes to face the most-talented fighter in the world.

However, for a fighter who has always been underappreciated and long underpaid, this is a tremendous opportunity to gain respect and the biggest payday of his career.

Marquez, who drew and lost to Pacquiao at 126 pounds and 130 pounds respectively, said he walks around at 145 pounds.

“Obviously, he’s bigger,” Marquez said through an interpretor. “I have to come up in weight ÔǪ but in the right way. I’m already doing that. I’m working hard. You have to take risks to be the best. And that’s what I want to be – the best.”

The styles of the fighters also seem to favor Mayweather.

Marquez is a counterpuncher by nature, meaning he normally needs his opponent to come to him. Mayweather isn’t an aggressive fighter, which could mean Marquez will have to take the lead to have any chance to win.

“If I have to be aggressive, I’ll be aggressive,” Marquez said.

Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy, lost a close decision to Mayweather in 2007. He said Mayweather doesn’t cope with an incessant jab, which De La Hoya threw the first half of the fight and then stopped.

“I’ll say it a million times – he doesn’t like the jab. That’s how you can beat him,” De La Hoya said.

He said Marquez will be more competitive than some people might think.

“I see Marquez being very sneaky, being able to close the distance between them,” he said. “I just chased him. That’s the problem that I had. He got under my skin and I chased him. Marquez will close the distance.

“And once the door opens for Juan Manuel, he’ll know what to do. He’s a smart fighter.”

The two camps seem to disagree on the catch weight.

It’s 144, according to matchmaker Eric Gomez of Golden Boy Promotions, Marquez’s promoter. However, when Mayweather was asked repeatedly to confirm that, he refused to do so. He said more than once “that it’s welterweight (147-pound limit) fight.”

One source familiar with the negotiations said that weight was a point of contention throughout the talks. He also said the discrepancy has the potential to destroy the deal, in spite of the news conference to announce it on Saturday.

It might be difficult for Mayweather to get down to 144, and it seems that 147 is too big for Marquez.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]