There's plenty special about Juan Manuel Marquez. A first ballot hall of famer and four-division world champ, Marquez's greatest distinction, however, may be his status as the one man who has been able to consistently nullify Manny Pacquiao. Although officially 0-2-1 in three meetings with the Filipino icon, there is plenty of scoring debate to be found when it comes to the Marquez-Pacquiao trilogy. Whatever the case, Marquez's supreme counter-punching, combined with his mastery of basic boxing fundamentals have made for a hugely successful nineteen year career as a pro.
In anticipation of Saturday's fourth Marquez-Pacquiao bout, here's a look at the five fights that defined the career of Juan Manuel Marquez:
Juan Manuel Marquez D12 Manny Pacquiao
May 8, 2004 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada)
Just six months after Manny Pacquiao had shocked the North American boxing scene by steamrolling Marco Antonio Barrera on HBO, WBA and IBF featherweight champ, Marquez met the challenge of the rising Filipino star. After suffering three knockdowns in the first round, it looked as though Pacquiao was on his way to destroying another Mexican hero. However, after a nearly disastrous round one, Marquez found his grove and began the tough task of coming from behind. Marquez would land more power shots in eight of the remaining eleven rounds and work his way to a hard-fought draw. More importantly, a legendary boxing rivalry was born.
Juan Manuel Marquez L SD12 Manny Pacquiao
March 15, 2008 (Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada)
In the most action-packed bout of their three contests, both Marquez and Pacquiao came out determined to prove who the better man was. Marquez, defending his WBC super featherweight title, would once against be sent to the canvas, this time in the third round, but fought back bravely and managed to stun the hard-charging Pacquiao on several occasions. The classic back-and-forth battle of two prime, elite warriors would end with Pacquiao taking a close split decision after twelve rounds. Plenty of controversy would be generated from the judges' decision, but none could argue with the fact that they had just seen a great battle. The Marquez-Pacquiao PPV would be, at that point, the highest selling boxing event below welterweight, generating 400,000 buys.
Juan Manuel Marquez TKO 11 Joel Casamayor
September 13, 2008 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada)
Cuba's Joel Casamayor, despite only bringing the Ring Magazine belt to the ring with him, was regarded by many as the best lightweight in the world while Marquez was making his 135 lb. debut only six months after his tough loss to Pacquiao. The crafty veteran southpaw, Casamayor, befuddled Marquez early on in the bout and looked to be defending his status as king of the lightweight hill. By the middle rounds, though, Marquez found his way and in the latter rounds of the contest, began to land some heavy shots on his opponent. A body shot following a heavy exchange of leather would send Casamayor to the canvas late in the eleventh round. Casamayor would beat the count and try to hold on for the closing bell, but a hungry Marquez pushed forward, eventually stopping the veteran champ.
Juan Manuel Marquez TKO 9 Juan Diaz
February 28, 2009 (Toyota Center, Houston, Texas)
In their first of two encounters, Marquez would walk into "Baby Bull" Diaz's hometown of Houston to challenge for the vacant WBO and WBA lightweight titles. The 25-year-old Diaz had earned a reputation as a hardcore brawling, elite lightweight and had been a three-belt world champ at lightweight. In a thrilling nine round brawl, pitting Marquez's class against Diaz's raw aggression, the Mexican gradually beat down his younger opponent en route to a TKO 9 victory and undisputed status as the best lightweight in the world. The following year, Marquez would defeat Diaz again, this time via unanimous decision.
Juan Manuel Marquez L MD12 Manny Pacquiao
November 12, 2011 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada)
In the third and, perhaps, most controversial meeting of the two superstars, Marquez found himself challenging for Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title. As usual, the battle was close, albeit without the hotly-contested exchanges of previous encounters. The Mexican nullified Pacquiao's offensive prowess for much of the bout with veteran footwork and solid counter-punching, but the Filipino was never too far behind Marquez's lead. After twelve close rounds, Pacquiao would once again find his hand raised over his arch-rival. A dejected Marquez, bolstered by many in the media who disagreed with the decision, would express his frustration with the call after the bout and seriously consider retirement.
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Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
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