Friday, July 24, 2009

Juan Manuel Marquez is Silent No More

Veteran fighter Juan Manuel Marquez has become one of the biggest names in the sport and he will be squarely in the spotlight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

The big fight is still eight weeks away and the man who was always quiet in the past, now seems to be the one who is talking the loudest. That man is Juan Manuel Marquez and on Sept. 19 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena he will take on trash talker extraordinaire Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. It is one of this year's most eagerly anticipated bouts.

For the majority of his 16-year-long professional boxing career, Marquez has let his opponents do all the talking. He was a man that was seemingly content to let the others shoot their mouths off while he saved his speeches for the ring and communicated with his fists.

But Marquez now carries the sport of professional boxing in Mexico on his shoulders. That honor means he is the man holding the torch that was begrudgingly handed off to him by Julio Cesar Chavez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. It also means it's time for him to speak his mind.

He'll be 36-years-old by the time he steps into the ring against Mayweather, whom, before he retired, was the #1-ranked pound-for-pound boxer on the planet. So for Marquez, this was as good a time as any to speak now, or forever hold his peace.

“I know, and the Mexican people know, that this will be a tough fight because Mayweather is a great fighter,” Marquez said earlier this week. “But I must tell you dream is a win. If I win this fight it will be a great opportunity for me and it will make a big impression. If I win this fight it will make an impression around the world and it will very good for me and more importantly for the Mexican people.”

Marquez is a pro's pro and he will be a handful for the returning Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Marquez is currently training under the watchful eye of Nacho Beristain at the Romanza Boxing Gym in Mexico City. The fight with Mayweather is taking place in the welterweight division which is another challenge facing Marquez since he has never fought at a weight above 135-pounds.

“It's okay, the weight is not a problem,” claims Marquez who now speaks fluent English. “I've been running in the mountains of Nevado de Toluca and I feel stronger than ever. My weight is good and my legs feel good. I've been eating lots of tacos, lifting stones and I feel strong.”

Few give Marquez much of a chance to upend Mayweather and it is generally believed that he will be shortchanged against “Money” who is unbeaten at 39-0. Most point to the fact that even though Mayweather will be coming off a nearly two-year long, self-imposed retirement he is still the younger, bigger and overall better man.

But Marquez obviously views his chances - and Mayweather - through a very different prism than do the people who doubt his credentials and his ability.

“People can say what they want and Mayweather can say what he wants, too,” says Marquez. “That doesn't bother me. Come September nineteenth it will be a different story because the time for talking will be over with. In the ring it is very different. Right now I am working my muscles. But in the ring with Mayweather I will use my intelligence, I will use my experience and I will use my skills to beat him.”

For those that discount Marquez' chances it should be remembered that he is a technically proficient fighter that throws textbook style punches and he has the ability to throw combinations with equal effectiveness to the body and head. He has only been decisively beaten once in a 55 fight career and that was by Freddie Norwood in 1999. His other losses were a first round disqualification in his pro debut and disputed decision losses to Chris John and the world's current pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao, whom he also held to a draw.

Marquez is aware that this is the most significant fight of his career. He knows there are those that believe he cannot win. But he also claims that for this fight he has been working harder than ever.

“I wake up at four a.m. and I run forty-five minutes to an hour,” he explains. “Then later in the day, I spend three hours in the gym doing my boxing workout. I don't take the easy way and I don't take vacations from my training. I sacrifice time with my wife and children. You see, I have always wanted to fight the best and when I was offered this fight I took it without thinking for a second. To me, Floyd Mayweather is one of the best, so that is why I wanted to fight him.”

Marquez is on a hot streak of late with two signature knockout wins. He vanquished Cuban Joel Casamayor in September and in February of this year he stopped lightweight titlist Juan Diaz in what will be a candidate for Fight of the Year honors. Those wins have given Marquez, the #2 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world, a sense in his own mind that now is certainly not the time to leave any stone unturned.

“I'm lifting stones in my training camp,” he says. “I'm concentrating everything on Floyd Mayweather. I know I will be able to compete with him and that's why I'm working very, very hard. I'm preparing myself mentally and physically and I'm leaving it up to my coach, Nacho Beristain, to put together a great game plan so that we can be able to take advantage and beat Floyd. I will show you and I will show the world that now is my time.”

Powerful words from a man that has finally decided to let us know what he really thinks.

July 2009

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