COMMENTARY | Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) came from behind in his fourth battle with arch-rival, Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) to officially close out the series with a devastating, debate-ending sixth round knockout Saturday night in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand.
Despite Marquez scoring a knockdown in the third round, Pacquiao was controlling the action, bloodying the Mexican and scoring his own knockdown in the fifth. All of that abruptly stopped in the closing seconds of the sixth round.
In the final blow of the Marquez-Pacquiao debate, Marquez caught Pacquiao flush with an overhand right and sent the eight-division world champ to the canvas, face first. There was no need to issue a count as Pacquiao was completely unconscious.
Now for the 39-year-old Marquez, the task, after enjoying a well-earned vacation, is to decide what's next. He has officially exorcised the Pacquiao demon from his boxing soul.
From looking at the available fighters on the horizon, Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios would be a solid choice for a fight around the middle part of next year. Rios will be extremely easy to sign, won't bicker over money, and will absolutely put on an exciting show for as long as the bout lasts. The Mexican-American brawler has proven himself to be one of boxing's most entertaining fighters and would surely be even more hyped than usual for a bout of this magnitude. And with his frenzied style and two-fisted attitude, an upset would not be that much of an upset at all-- much stranger things have happened.
Then there's Timothy Bradley, the WBO welterweight champion who has yet to stop paying career penance for being on the winning end of a horrid decision against Pacquiao back in June. Although he had nothing to do with the putrid split decision call, fans have made him pay for it, anyway. To make matters worse, though, the usually mild-mannered Bradley vented his frustration in the media, lashing out at both Manny Pacquiao and promoter Bob Arum. As a result, Pacquiao opted not to exercise the rematch clause in his contract and Arum has not exactly busted his hump in trying to get Bradley another big bout. But maybe it's time to bury the promotional hatchet and explore the possibility of Marquez-Bradley. At least that's what Bradley is hoping.
From there, the list of possible opposition gets much thinner and much more difficult to sell.
Lamont Peterson ended 2011 as the feel-good story of the year after his upset of Amir Khan, but then got sucked up into an ugly scandal when he tested positive for a banned substance prior to his schedule rematch with Khan. Since then, Peterson has been sitting on the sidelines, ready and willing to fight, but unable to land a meaningful bout. Peterson-Marquez would be a nice little match-up because, despite all the ugliness of the drug scandal, Peterson is a skilled and tenacious battler with a big heart and solid resume.
After Peterson, the options get paper-thin, unless Bob Arum can somehow settle his feud with Golden Boy Promotions in order to have more financially viable fight options. Golden Boy has a mass of talent at 140-147 lbs. and all would provide solid, entertaining, and marketable competition for the Mexican legend. A reconciliation with Golden Boy opens up possibilities with fighters such as Robert Guerrero, Victor Ortiz, Devon Alexander, Paulie Malignaggi, Josesito Lopez, Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana, and Lucas Matthysse.
Without Golden Boy's help, the best options out there are hardly viable in terms of competition or saleability-- Mike Alvarado, Ruslan Provodnikov, Mike Jones, Kendall Holt, Randall Bailey, and Luis Carlos Abregu.
Whatever decisions are made, big things are expected of Marquez, but, at least in the short-term, there simply aren't that many options out there. And despite an absolutely stellar performance Saturday night, at 39, the Mexican future Hall of Famer's time is limited.
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.
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