Marquez: Mayweather will be harder than Pacquiao
Juan Manuel Marquez's welterweight fight against former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Sept. 19 is not only the biggest event of his 15-year career, the three-division titleholder from Mexico believes it will be his most difficult fight.
During an international conference call with sports media on Tuesday, Marquez (50-4-1, 37 knockouts) said Mayweather's elusive style and greater size pose inherent problems for a natural featherweight. But it's the former welterweight champ's speed that concerns him and his trainer, Nacho Beristain, the most.
“It's going to be a very difficult fight,” Marquez said. “[Mayweather is] coming with a lot of speed and that is always difficult to deal with.”
Marquez should know. He's gone 24 rounds with Manny Pacquiao, the current pound-for-pound king and arguably the fastest fighter of this decade.
“We will have to counter (the speed) using the strategy I've used in all my fights, timing and counter punching,” said Marquez, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Sunday.
Marquez's “usual” strategy enabled him to hold Pacuqiao to a draw in their first encounter and then give the current 140-pound champ fits in their rematch, which he lost by a disputed split decision.
However, Marquez points out that Pacquiao has an aggressive style that presented counter-punching opportunities for him to take advantage of in those two bouts, which took place at featherweight and 130 pounds. Mayweather will probably not take as many risks as Pacquiao did.
“Mayweather will be more difficult for me than Pacquiao,” he said. “He's a counter puncher who is very fast and he's also a defensive boxer.”
Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs) is a defensive master who also happens to be a lot bigger than Marquez, who didn't step up to the junior lightweight division until 2007.
That same year, Mayweather, an amateur featherweight who turned pro at junior lightweight, beat Oscar De La Hoya for a 154-pound title and then defended the welterweight title against Ricky Hatton.
Marquez entered the lightweight division last year, winning the world title from Joel Casamayor in September of last year. Much of his camp for Mayweather has been devoted to adding muscle to his featherweight frame.
There are rumors that Marquez, who was probably pushing his limits by carrying 135 pounds, has put on too much muscle for this fight — he says he weighs 143 — and has jeopardized his speed and reflexes.
Not true, Beristain said during Tuesday's conference call.
“That’s always a concern when you’re bulking up in weight, losing a little bit of speed,” the hall-of-fame trainer said. “But no. On the contrary, I’m very happy to say at this point in training he’s acquiring more speed than in past fights.”
Beristain added that Marquez has been sparring with fast and defensive-minded boxers to help prepare him for Mayweather's tricky style. At this stage in Marquez's camp, he is sparring with smaller fighters and working out with smaller, lighter gloves in order to develop more speed.
Fans will find out in three and a half weeks whether Marquez's gym work pays off and whether Mayweather does indeed turn out to be the toughest fight of the Mexican's career.