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Juan Manuel Marquez Narrows Opponents to Either Erik Morales or Mercito Gesta

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 12:  Juan Manuel Marquez (L) hits Manny Pacquiao in the 11th round of their WBO world welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena November 12, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pacquiao retained his title with a majority decision victory.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Henry MartinSenior Analyst IMay 14, 2012

On July 14th, Juan Manuel Marquez will return to the ring at Cowboys Stadium in Texas in a tune-up match that will hopefully lead to Manny Pacquiao, if he is successful against Timothy Bradley, in the fall later this year.

Since Marquez's last win over Sergey Fedchenko, there was a list of fighters that were rumored to be Marquez's next opponent. Names on that list included Paul McCloskey, Zab Judah, Erik Morales, Mercito Gesta, Mike Alvarado and at the front of the pack, Brandon Rios.

A lot has changed since then, though.

McCloskey recently lost to DeMarcus Corley, and Rios won a very controversial decision over Richard Abril

Now, according to BoxingScene.com, Marquez has fully ruled out the possibility of facing Rios, after previously leaving the possibility open to interpretation. Marquez cited Rios' discipline in making weight (referring to his failure to make weight twice against against Murray and Abril despite both being at lightweight).

With that, Marquez's list is now narrowed down to two names. Former world champion and Mexican legend Morales and young, undefeated lightweight prospect Gesta.

Many fans are hoping for a fight to materialize between the two Mexican legends, but that doesn't seem to be Marquez's interest.

He has made it known in the past that he's serious about his Pacquiao rematch and wants a southpaw to prepare him for Pacquiao. That was supposedly the same thing he did when he fought against Likar Ramos last year and blasted him in the first round.

Marquez has also mentioned numerous times that he wanted to face Gesta to prepare himself for Pacquiao. So it seems that Gesta will be the most likely opponent for Marquez come July 14th. 

Anything can happen between now and fight night, though. A fight with Morales might yield a better payday and seems more fitting for the venue than a fight with a little-known prospect. 

Whatever the case may be, hopefully they announce who Marquez will be fighting soon, as the boxing world will be all eyes and ears for the fight come July 14th. 

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