Giovanni Marquez makes his pro debut proudly walking in his father Raul’s footsteps starting Friday
Giovanni Marquez, the 152-pound National Golden Gloves champion who won the outstanding fighter of last year’s tournament, is about to walk out of the gym in Houston, Texas, after wrapping up another grueling workout. He’ll sling his equipment bag over his shoulder, tap fists with everyone as he leaves. Though before he goes, an imperative yell will find his ears from a familiar sounding voice to remind him to look both ways before he crosses the street or when he’s at a red light while driving.
Giovanni will sheepishly grin and remind his father, former U.S. Olympian and IBF junior middleweight titlist Raul Marquez, “Dad, I’m 21,” laughing as he walks out the door.
Raul Marquez can’t help himself from being “a dad.”
Giovanni Marquez can’t help himself but love a sport in which he was raised—like it’s part of his DNA.
That mixture of Marquez blood and boxing upbringing collides to take a next step this Friday night, when Giovanni makes his pro debut in a four-round junior welterweight fight against Dominican Nelson Morales (2-0), with his father doing double duty working his corner and on the broadcast of SHOWTIME’s ShoBox: The New Generation (9:35 p.m. ET/PT) from the Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Giovanni has a pile of boxing trophies that fill up his bedroom. He carries a maturity that belies his age. He’s very proud of the Marquez boxing legacy, though was an eight-year-old the last time his famous father fought. Giovanni, who’s 5-foot-9 and had a 75-12 amateur record, remembers dad more for his broadcast exploits than his boxing past—which he didn’t become aware of it until he was 12.
“That’s when I realized my dad was somebody in the boxing world,” recalled Giovanni, who finished his associate degree in liberal arts from Lone Star Community College, with plans on transferring to the University of Houston this summer to finish with a degree in finance. “I was 12, 13, and I would go with my dad to these fights, and I would always wonder, ‘Why are all of these people coming up to him?’ He was someone in this boxing world. It was pretty cool. I started looking up his fights on YouTube and saw his Olympic fights. I did more research and saw his articles. My dad is very humble. He never spoke about his boxing career. He never made it a point to say he was a well-known figure in the boxing world.
“To me, he was just dad. When he was active, I was young. I became more aware of my father when he was a broadcaster. I asked him why these people are coming up to him, and he never really explained it. I did the research on my own. Boxing was always in the family. There was never a point where my father said, ‘This is what I do.’”
Giovanni would spend family holidays with Arturo “Tito” Marquez, Raul’s father and Giovanni’s grandfather, who trained Giovanni until Raul took over last year. The family gatherings would revolve around boxing, talk of legends, talk of Raul’s history. Giovanni would take it all in, though not completely understand what this boxing talk was about.
Giovanni was born into boxing.
Football, however, was his first love.
Giovanni swam, played baseball and football.
Raul Marquez and Mireya Scholes, Giovanni’s mother, succeeded in raising three great, respectful sons. Raul is always going to be “dad.” He did fail in one aspect: He was unable to talk sons Raul Jr., now 29, and Arturo, 25, who reached 10-0 before an eye injury truncated his pro career, out of boxing. After two failed tries, Raul didn’t even bother making that attempt with Giovanni.
“I got involved in boxing when I was 12, and I was around 13 when I took it seriously, but my brothers and I were always sparring each other and I took the brunt of it,” Giovanni said, laughing. “My dad says that’s what me made so tough because I never backed down. They playfully picked on me, it wasn’t anything serious, just slap fighting. I first loved football, then I broke my collarbone when I was in sixth grade. That did it for football. Football was the first sport that I loved, and after I broke my collarbone, I told my dad that I wanted to box.
“The dream was to be in the NFL.”
“Giovanni always played football, and he knew everything about football, and once his sixth grade hit, that was it,” Raul recalled. “He did everything. He swam, played baseball, played soccer, played football. He never really wanted to box. But I remember bringing him to a Canelo Alvarez fight when he was still in a sling. He was around that environment, and because of his older brothers, that toughened him up.”
And the family genetics took over.
“I came to realize I could do better in boxing than in football,” said Giovanni, who’s signed with David McWater’s Split-T Management. “Ever since I started, I never looked back. There were times when I got discouraged, when I felt I won a fight in the amateurs, and it got taken away. But I came back. My father never pressured me to fight. My father put my brothers through the hell to see if they really wanted to box. My grandfather was the one who put me through hell to see if I wanted to really box. I can’t recall one specific deep discussion with my father about boxing.
“But my father and grandfather always stress that boxing is a tough sport, and a great sport, but it’s a sport that you have to be completely committed to. I hear it every day from my father. I hear about getting rest, not messing around with girls, never cutting corners, because if I fail, it will be no one else’s fault but my own. I’m used to hearing it (laughs). For me, it’s easy to commit to boxing and stay dedicated, because I’ve seen what happens. I’ve won tournaments and national tournaments.”
Giovanni won a Houston regional Golden Gloves tournament when he was 13. It was Raul that handed the first-place award to his son.
“It’s the feeling that kept me coming back, seeing the hard work pay off,” Giovanni said. “My dad congratulated me and told me to keep doing what I was doing, and that I would make something out of myself. My grandfather, on the other hand, wasn’t too fast to congratulate me (laughs). I would win, and my grandfather would give me a list of things to work on as he was cutting off my handwraps. My father and grandfather would get into arguments over my grandfather being too hard on me (laughs).”
Raul admits Friday night is going to be difficult. When Giovanni won the national Golden Gloves last August, Raul was a nervous wreck. It’s his son—he’s allowed. Raul was on assignment for SHOWTIME on August 14, 2021, calling the John Riel Casimero-Guillermo Rigondeaux WBO bantamweight title fight. He worked with Giovanni in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the national Golden Gloves until the last possible moment. He didn’t want to leave. Raul got special permission from Showtime to leave Saturday morning. That night, just as Showtime was about to air, Giovanni’s fight began. Raul was getting constant updates from the Showtime crew.
That’s how Raul found out Giovanni won.
Giovanni, who will be 145 pounds for the ShoBox fight with plans on eventually fighting at 140, confesses his father may be more nervous than him—and he’s the one fighting.
“My dad is not easy on me,” Giovanni said, laughing. “I don’t like everything he tells me, but I know and understand my dad does it out of love, and he does it because he cares. I’m sure that there are things he probably doesn’t want to say to me, but my father realizes that he does have to be hard on me for me to be successful. He’s still going to tell me to look both ways before I cross the street or when I’m driving. My dad loves to stress (laughs). He’s going to probably be more nervous than my mom. I have to remind him quite frequently that I’m 21 (laughs). But I understand I’m always going to be his baby boy.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.
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