COMMENTARY | Most seem to think that Juan Manuel Marquez's reluctance to decide on taking a fifth bout with Manny Pacquiao is some sort of negotiating ploy. After all, Pacquiao and promoter Bob Arum need solid, decisive redemption over the Mexican star to erase the memory of last December's sixth round face plant. The Filipino icon's fame and popularity can carry him through a lot, but it can't erase the image of him face-down on the canvas and it can't help him recover any street cred lost by the devastating defeat. Marquez, who will turn 40 in August, knows how important a rematch is for Team Pacquiao and would be well within his rights to look for the best deal possible.
There also has to be some left over bad blood coming from Marquez's side of the negotiating table. After each prior controversial decision, Pacquiao was extremely slow in allowing the Mexican a chance at redemption. As a matter of fact, the fourth fight may not have happened at all if not for Pacquiao's refusal to meet Timothy Bradley for a second time and a total lack of viable opponents to plug into the December date.
Negotiating ploy or not, Marquez has been talking so much about not fighting Pacquiao that it's starting to be quite believable. It could be that Marquez feels that he has been robbed by controversial decisions in the past and that this knockout win finally closes the Pacquiao chapter of his professional career. Maybe pride takes precedence over money as the future hall of famer enters into the final portion of his career.
In the best case scenario, Marquez likely has just one or two quality fights left in his body and if Pacquiao is really not part of the plan, then he needs something big. He needs legacy fights that could also deliver some big paydays.
Really, there's not much out there that can deliver on both and, surely, nothing as big as a fifth Pacquiao clash. But Marquez may have revealed a bit about what he's thinking and what might be on the immediate agenda.
"To keep fighting, I want to draw as much attention as possible to win a fifth world title in a different division, I want to go for the welterweight title," Marquez told Ernesto Castellanos of Notifight.com and Boxingscene.com.
Officially, Marquez is already 1-2 in the welterweight division with a one-sided decision loss coming at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in 2009 and the 1-1 split with Pacquiao. It was initially thought that Marquez was too small to truly compete at 147 and that only the huge money fights with Mayweather and Pacquiao could bring him above junior welterweight. Obviously, though, the massive knockout victory over Pacquiao may have changed that outlook.
At the moment, the welterweight division is not extremely deep and there are at least two paper titles floating around the division.
Unfortunately for Marquez, most of the welterweight class is controlled by Golden Boy. IBF titlist Devon Alexander, WBA titlist Paulie Malignaggi, and several of the top divisional contenders will likely be off-limits to the Top Rank promoted Marquez. Deals between the rival promotional companies just don't get made, at least not at this level and certainly not with Pacquiao wanting at Marquez first.
The only viable opponent for Marquez at welterweight is WBO champ, Timothy Bradley, who defended his title Saturday night in a thrilling battle with Ruslan Provodnikov. This was a bout that Marquez previously ruled out, but options are dwindling and time is running out. He has given himself until April to decide whether he wants to keep on fighting.
Marquez-Bradley may not be anywhere near as rich as Marquez-Pacquiao V, but if the Mexican star has truly closed the Pacquiao chapter in his life, it's the best available option.
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 as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.