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Best I Faced: Juan Manuel Marquez

Marquez (right) scores against Mike Alvarado in his final fight. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
05
Aug

(Editor’s Note: This feature originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of THE RING Magazine. It is being represented following the retirement of the great former champion, which was made official on Friday.)

It took Juan Manuel Marquez 10 years to win a world title but once he did he didn’t stop, going on to win a total of eight major titles in four weight classes. He is one of only three Mexicans to win belts in four divisions.

The Mexico City-born boxer often fought in the shadows of high-profile countrymen Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, whose all-action styles were more appealing to Mexican fans.

And, if strong rumors were true, many top fighters in and around Marquez’s weight class wanted nothing to do with him because of his obvious ability. Naseem Hamed was said to be one of those fighters.

However, eventually, Marquez became impossible to avoid because of his success, evolved into a more entertaining fighter and built a career that will eventually take him to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

“Dinamita” lost his 1993 debut by disqualification but won his next 29 fights to earn a shot at unbeaten WBA featherweight titleholder Freddie Norwood in September 1999. The challenger dropped a unanimous decision that many believed he deserved to win.

Undeterred, Marquez set about earning a second title shot. He won his next 10 fights (nine by knockout) to land a fight with old warhorse Manuel Medina for the vacant IBF crown in February 2003. Marquez won this time, stopping his countryman in seven rounds.

Marquez considers it his proudest moment.

“I had my first chance when I was 26 but, simply, the judges denied me the opportunity,” Marquez told THE RING. “Four years later I won my first world championship, defeating ‘Mantecas’ Medina. That was such a great moment.”

On the flip side, it was the four-fight series with Manny Pacquiao, beginning in May 2004, that would cause so much frustration for Marquez. It got off to a horrible start as he went down three times in the first round of the first fight. The Mexican master worked his way back into the contest but had to settle for a draw after 12 hard-fought rounds.

Marquez and Pacquiao couldn’t come to terms on an immediate rematch so the Mexican went another direction that included the surprising decision to go to Indonesia, where he lost a 12-round decision to the talented Chris John.

Once again he had to work his way back into the mix. In 2007, he won a world title in a second weight class by outboxing Barrera

Pacquiao eked out a razor-thin split decision in their second fight and three years would pass before number three. In the meantime, Marquez picked up the RING lightweight championship against Joel Casamayor and won two more titles with a hard-fought stoppage over Juan Diaz.

Then came the most one-sided setback of his career. When Floyd Mayweather Jr. ended his first retirement, he chose the smaller Marquez as his opponent. Mayweather won by a near-shutout decision. Curiously, although Marquez was pressed by THE RING, he didn’t pick Mayweather in any of the 10 categories here.

Marquez lost a majority decision in the third fight against Pacquiao even though some observers thought he did enough to win. But in the fall of 2012, when Marquez met Pacquiao for the fourth time, there were no questions. In the final seconds of the sixth round, while behind on the scorecards, Marquez landed a picture-perfect right cross that knocked Pacquiao out cold.

“I believe that all my fights were important to conquer four different divisions,” he proudly proclaimed. (Marquez gained an interim 140-pound title against Sergey Fedchenko between the third and fourth Pacquiao fights and was later upgraded to full status.) “But if I had to choose one, I choose the last fight with Manny due to how it ended.”

Marquez (56-7-1, 40 knockouts) last fought two years ago, outpointing Mike Alvarado at the Forum in Inglewood, California, where he made a name for himself in the mid-1990s. However, he has said he hopes to return to the ring this summer. Now 42, he lives in Mexico City with his wife Erika and three children. He keeps busy with several activities, including dabbling in the real estate business.

“I would like to teach boxing to the youth, making a difference with my promotion enterprise,” he said. “The Mexican Boxing Federation offered me (the opportunity) to participate in a great project. I believe I would be able to do great things.”

Marquez agreed to speak about the best fighters he fought in 10 categories.

BEST JAB

Marco Antonio Barrera: When you want to dodge a jab using speed, you must calculate it. That is what I did with him. I tried to guess where his punches were going and then counterpunch and decrease their accuracy.

BEST CHIN

Manny Pacquiao: He took a good shot and he always returned stronger.

FASTEST HANDS

Pacquiao: He has a lot of power and speed.

FASTEST FEET

Pacquiao: He is always everywhere. He is a tough fighter.

SMARTEST

Sergey Fedchenko: The Ukrainian fighter, no one knew him. He had a great counterpunching (style), speed and a great jab. He was very intelligent also. Manuel “Mantecas” Medina was also very smart.

STRONGEST

Pacquiao: When he fought, he moved his hips a lot. Then I analyzed that all his power came from there, in the hips. I understood that he couldn’t do his power moves and he would have problems if I used speed so I started fighting different.

BEST PUNCHER

Pacquiao: In all the fights I had, nobody hit me harder than him.

BEST DEFENSE

Pacquiao: He is great at closing his defense, he has a good guard and it is very hard to land (a clean punch). After four fights with him, I was able to know him better. I also learned his mistakes. Fedchenko also had great defense.

BEST SKILLS

Juan Diaz: Juan has a lot of speed. He was aggressive and elusive. On the other hand, Joel (Casamayor) was great with the distance and he was a brilliant fighter.

BEST OVERALL

Pacquiao: Without doubt, the best pound-for-pound of his time and I faced him at his best.

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

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  • RayK

    I describe JMM as a counter-combo punching fucking genius. He seems set for retirement. So long!

    • ceylon mooney

      i knew cotto wouldnt go back to 147, but i SO wanted to see that as a farewell fight for both of em. is be rootin for marquez and favor him in that fight, but, diva shit aside, im a big fan of cotto also.

      • RayK

        Me too! I’m not so down (not sure what word to use) about Cotto hanging them up at the end of the year. He’s all business these days. Maybe Mayweather retires for good after August and then Pacman next year. Then all the fighters that attracted me to the sport are gone.

        It’s reassuring to see someone like Loma (obvious example), Spense jr and AJ come along.

        • ceylon mooney

          i feel u bro

          u right man

      • Julio

        I doubt Cotto can make 147 safely again. And I am not sure Marquez would have done enough to beat Cotto all things considered at this stage. And yes, Cotto has been acting like a diva, but he earned that right by giving us a lot of thrills and spilling lots of blood for our viewing pleasure.

    • Ain’t no dinos in Holy books

      Yep, all time great counter punching master with balls of steel.
      Still, his selections seemed skewed towards implying how great he was himself ie ‘Pacquiao, Pacquiao, Pacquiao, but I knocked him out so how great am I?!’

      No problem with his selection of Manny in several categories, or even as best overall, but no mention of Floyd at all? Not even defensively? Come on!

      Might seem churlish to find fault with the fighter who has actually been in the ring with these guys, but it’s obvious that some of these greats have an agenda with their answers. A fighter’s pride I suppose, and Marquez really was one of the greats.

      • RayK

        Look man, I love dinosaurs OK? but I’m going to trust my instinct and say there’s something missing in his statements.right? However, if you’re level-headed you know that Floyd fought a lightweight that night who was looking for a payday. Yes or No?

        And yes, in my limited knowledge of the fight game I do realise that fighters miss out on some opponents. For what ever reason and they should be called out…

        • Ain’t no dinos in Holy books

          I don’t give Floyd much credit for what he pulled against Marquez.

          Glad you love dinosaurs.

  • ceylon mooney

    watching pacquiao-marquez 3 educated me as a fan more
    so than any other fight. made sense out of a lotta things.

    it was the first of the four fights i saw in its entirety, and i saw it on live TV. after watching for a little bit i realized marquez had pacquiaos number. tho i was in awe of pacquiao, it was clear
    to me. i then immediately thought mayweather cant lose. theres no better go ahead–hell make the fight. the third thing of course was they gave the decision to the guy who lost.

    ye, as a fan and spectator, that fight was a real learning experience.

  • David Telfer

    I assume he’s obviously just bitter about how easily Mayweather embarrassed him? Can’t think of any other reason for not including him anywhere in the list.

    • TNT

      This interview is strange. In recorded interviews JMM has praised FMJr’s boxing prowess.

    • marc

      Well one reason (If you understand the sport) that floyd was not on the list is because he was the lightweight champion at the time when Floyd called him out so he was giving away way too much in size to mayweather which is the reason why nobody took that fight seriously (accept for HBO executives) . But every die-hard boxing fan knew that was a joke and that`s the reason why Larry Merchant decided to stay and watch paint dry rather than to watch a 12 snooze fest between 2 counter punchers where 1 of them was 2 weight classes bigger. You do understand that right?

      • LostOdyssey

        Floyd didn’t call Marquez out that’s wrong marc. Marquez called Floyd out straight after his 1st fight with Diaz. Also why is it acceptable for Marquez and Pacman to fight each other? But it’s ok for Mayweather to fight Pacquaio but not Marquez. Furthermore Floyd has also given away size to bigger guys like Corrales, Castillo, Canelo, Maidana and still won…..Pacman has done the same…..So using the excuse of size as to why Marquez lost to Floyd isn’t going to fly with me……Floyd easily showed the best defense Marquez has ever seen and to not have him on at least that category shows me he’s being biased against Floyd. Especially when he has said himself in interviews that Floyd Mayweather in his words “Is the best fighter in the defense.”

        • RayK

          Yeah it’s true Marquez called him out but he was still a lightweight. Pacman was used to fighting at WW. Marquez didn’t really manage his Welter weight properly until fight 3 with Pacquiao. No?
          He absolutely should’ve mentioned Mayweather.

          • Aceeboy

            He totally messed with his body that fight apart from drinking his own piss.

          • RayK

            are you gonna judge a man on one thing he did?

        • Ruben Reyes

          Yea, but then Floyd didn’t make weight, gaining even MORE advantage…so unless Pac and Marquez have ever come in overweight, yea, weight always has and continues to be an issue…

        • marc

          Your first point on it being okay for manny to fight marquez and not floyd is Juan and Manny were the same size, and floyd showed in his fight with both marquez and Mannny that he was way bigger than both guys, but the reason the boxing world accepted the fight between floyd and juan was because aside from marquez manny was icing every opponent bigger than him! Guys 10-15 lbs stronger and manny was disposing of them! That`s why the world wanted to see that fight! Nobody was pining for for Mayweather/marquez? Not even in mexico! As a matter of fact, it came as a shock that floyd picked the 135 lb champion instead of another welterweight but what do me and the rest of the die hard boxing world know?However i`ll give you credit with corrales however he lost to castillo IMO & HBO`s opinion but got the Top Rank decision . But I`m curious when it comes to the floyd cult; why do they get so offended when floyd is`nt put on the pedestal that he puts himself on? Floyd`s a great technical boxer however ther`s an asterisk by every one of his opponents you mentioned. Why dont you bring up the fighters he ducked? You guys all get amnesia around 2007 & 2008. Look at all the guys the fight world wanted floyd to fight, instead he wanted to go into “retirement”, Yeah right. It could`ve been because he wanted to duck a prime Cotto, Margarito, Paul williams, a younger Shane Moseley? Those were the fights!! Not a lightweight? C`mon bro! Not a young Canelo Alverez who had`nt reached his peak! Not a slow robert guererro.,And did the world really need not one but 2 Maidana fights who was a rough guy but clearly a limited fighter with limited skills! He really was killing the clock on that one.

      • Stephen M

        Yeah…well, this series is called “Best I Faced”, not “reasons why I lost” or “reasons why it wasn’t a fair fight even though I wanted the fight and signed the contract”. “Best I faced”, and, even though I dislike Mayweather, he is the best that Marquez faced and it reflects badly on him that he can’t even mention Mayweather’s name. At least best defense, did Marquez even hit him?

        • LostOdyssey

          Exactly he should’ve given Floyd at least the defensive category……

        • Oc

          I even seen in an interview he did with Pacquiao, that he sincerely doubted that Manny wouldn’t even be able to hit Floyd, suggesting that Mayweather’s defense was truly virtuoso.

          Disclaimer: Marquez is my second favorite fighter of all time but the fact is that the refusal to acknowledge Mayweather (at least in defense) is very evidently just sour grapes on his behalf.

          • Trump Gay Hitler.

            I would be bitter to if Floyd Mayrunner Jr failed to make his contractual weight agreement and did not even attempt to make the weight, he just paid off the fine which was a huge disrespect to JMM who was already at a disadvantage from being the older and smaller man fighter moving up.

          • Mauro Hermida

            I can see him adding Mayweather in the defense category, but Pac was definitely the better fighter offensively, so I don’t fault him much. I honestly don’t consider Floyd a better fighter than Manny, if you consider all facets of the game. I would rate Pac a bit above him, even if only a sliver.

          • Oc

            I agree mate, I also rate Pacquiao higher than Mayweather in my best boxers of all time list. Pacquiao was one of the all time great offensive fighters. Mayweather is one of the greatest defensive boxers of all time. Pacquiao’s record and achievements were better than Floyd’s…of course that is just my opinion.

        • marc

          First of all it`s his list not ours. And I`m saying that size matters and that was`nt even a fight worth watching with 2 counterpunchers and one guy 2 sizes bigger! That`s why you can understand that his fight with floyd was no barometer of how good or bad marquez was vs floyd. I think that was the point. Now if they were the same size than maybe we can have a debate but they were`nt, and on top of that floyd did`nt even make the weight either? So he`s giving away all those advantages and on top of that not make weight? Can you blame the guy for not wanting him to tell floyd to go fuck himself? I cant. And that fight was out of all of floyd`s fights the biggest disgrace and a huge clue to let you know what this dude was about! I`m sorry but I dont blame juan one bit and I dont get why it bothers you so much.

          • Stephen M

            It doesn’t bother me that much, but I like facts. The fact that Mayweather was bigger and that he didn’t make weight doesn’t mean he didn’t have the best defense of anyone Marquez faced, and by a long shot.
            Not making weight was really cheap, but hey it’s Floyd…

    • ceylon mooney

      yea me too

    • amiwill

      Maybe he just forgot to mention Mayweather. He also didn’t mention Bradley in ant category

    • RStech

      Not bitter, just honest. Seems the Floyd fans are the only ones being bitter about his sections. Floyd was two weight classes higher and didn’t make weight for a catch weight he demanded. He didn’t fight Marquez at his best, so he doesn’t get the glory. Nothing new with Floyd, he never fought an elite at their best.

  • marc

    Juan Manuel Marquez is a great little boxer however I still have Barrera slightly ahead of Juan. And I just saw a video where teddy atlas agreed with me which makes me feel a little good.

  • Bar Kokhba

    I enjoy hearing him discuss strategy and techniques he’d use to combat different styles. Great insights from one of today’s greatest fighters.

    Just put him in the Hall of Fame now.

  • LostOdyssey

    Marquez most definitely must be bitter about the Floyd fight. I don’t understand how he can not mention Floyd as the best defensive fighter he has fought….Especially when Floyd reduced him to only 12% punches landed…..When have you ever seen anyone reduce Marquez to 12%?

  • LostOdyssey

    Marquez most definitely must be bitter about the Floyd fight. I don’t understand how he can not mention Floyd as the best defensive fighter he has fought….Especially when Floyd reduced him to only 12% punches landed…..When have you ever seen anyone reduce Marquez to 12%punches landed? Marquez must have a racial bias against black fighters or something….

    • TNT

      That is a ridiculous claim. Check out the recorded interviews were JMM praises Mayweather.

    • Trump Gay Hitler.

      Fuck Floyd, he broke hiss contractual weight agreement and JMM had to move up 2 weigh divisions, you were not seeing the best of JMM so I don’t think Floyd should be mentioned.

      • David Telfer

        Do you honestly believe if Mayweather was a couple of lbs lighter it would’ve made any difference on fight night? That was arguably one of Mayweather’s best ever performances. NOBODY would’ve got near him that night.

        • Trump Gay Hitler.

          Of course May looked great, when you have the youth and weight advantage even my little sister would have looked great against Marquez.

    • Mauro Hermida

      Who gives a crap. A little obsessed much? He has his reasons. But I know he gave Floyd his props in the past.

  • Vince Isla

    Juanma’s best win is against pac but he’s on steroids

    • Trump Gay Hitler.

      Pac was on roids when he beat barera, Morales, de La hoya, mosley, matgarito and marquez,

  • Kiowhatta

    JMM is a fighter whose temperament was palatable, genuine, self assured without being cocky and definitely, although an over-used term, a true warrior.
    Although I didn’t watch every fight he engaged in, he struck me as a guy who really gave his all in the ring, perhaps naturally so, perhaps for his family, for himself, for the fans, maybe all.
    In light of tragic cliche”s like Broner, Juan Ma’ is the antithesis of the modern do the minimum, predictable trash talking, ego bloated coulda been.
    He is one fighter I would have no hesitation, were it up to me, to be a first ballot hall of famer.
    What intrigues me most about Mexican ‘superstars’ is how the hell do they negotiate their way around the cartels?

  • Tramond Nicholson

    New category….
    Who embarrassed you and made you look like an amateur?
    Answer: Floyd Mayweather

  • John King

    Thank you champ for all of the exciting fights you gave us, my best memory will always be tht after bing ripped off by th judges in fights you won but were robbed in sgainst Mnny has to be when you took I out of th judges hands and knocked him out cold, like hewas shot, lol. God bless you Juan.

  • Colin Mc Flurry.

    So sad to hear one of my favourite fighters is suffering from pugilistic dementia. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3ee478a2fea9271356e95f3aea958933b46fcd4419eb3b58c84b21036869dd5d.png

    • SouthMan

      Exactly, Not a mentioned of Floyd is a damn shame.

      • Fernando Diaz Campos

        I think that maybe he didn’t mention him because he “cheated” on their fight, not coming in at the contracted weight. Everyone else he fought, all made weight. That is my only explanation.

    • M SR

      That fight was soo unfair to Marquez, Marquez jumped up two weight classes and then Mayweather came in above weight.

  • Black Oracle

    I’m a big Pac Man fan, but c’mon Juan this is a little dishonest.

  • RStech

    Comical to see all the butt-hurt Fraud fans because he didn’t mention Mayweather. Perhaps if Mayweather bothered to make weight for his own catch weight or if Marquez didn’t come up two weight classes to fight him while drinking his own urine instead of the special cocktail Memo was serving him up later in his career, Floyd might have gotten a mention. You dudes can’t be happy unless every opponent of Floyd’s praises him as the boxing messiah.

  • FLOMATARD

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4ba9d4d4ba80548558b308aaee0cd266fda901ae5409fcaa81e2a264ca650190.jpg

    Most memorable to Marquez? the Bear Grylls experience. Piss flavored energy drink. Tim Bradley retired too and he wants to try that lol

    Naah just kidding. Marquez vs Juan Diaz 1 – I was there! Gracias champ, enjoy retirement.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp2rGpM_cXE

  • FLOMATARD
    • RayK

      you know you want to Floma, stop projecting…

      • FLOMATARD

        hahaha

  • Jayo2.0

    Marquez is still mad about that Mayweather loss. LOL. He also forgot to mention that he was on PEDs when he KO’d Pacquiao.

  • william ellis

    Certainly Mayweather deserved some mention in the categories of “Smartest”, “Skills” and “Best overall”. The only good reason that I can think of for ignoring him is that Marquez was fighting someone who was in a heavier weight category. There are a number of bad reason for this lapse as well.

  • Bomber Man

    All JMM statements were not biased, if there was one category he’d vote for Floyd, it was the best runner around the ring I guess, but it was never mentioned.

  • Raymond Strang

    Would love to have see Ricky Hatten fight MMM at the time he fought FMJ. Would have loved it.

  • SouthMan

    WOW, Best D is Pacquiao? The guy you put to sleep with help of steroid? Best skills is Juan Diaz? HAHAHA, Am cracking up as I read this. OK whatever!!

  • M SR

    I understand no mention of Mayweather because Marquez had to move up two weight classes and then Mayweather came him heavy, so basically cheating and getting to many advantages.