Once again, I’m going to open by asking to take a step back and be totally honest for just a moment.
Juan Diaz is an excellent fighter. Of all the young guns beginning to move into the upper echelon of the fight game, he is the most established, and probably, the most talented.
He is just as likely the climb the mountain of boxing as is Juan Manuel Lopez, Andre Berto, or Paul Williams. And, unlike these others, he has already fought for the legitimate championship of the world.
The unfortunate truth is that cherished plateau of greatness is already populated with some exceptional fighters, men like Juan Manuel Marquez, who is only the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world by a single point on one scorecard.
Many people favored Diaz tonight, and for good reason. He is young, aggressive, and talented, while Marquez is old, experienced, and established. The experience seemed to be the deciding factor tonight.
In the early rounds, “El Torito” (“The Baby Bull”) used his advantages well. And while he didn’t land many, telling, decisive blows, his work rate and aggression were enough to sway hometown judges.
This is where the experience kicks in. The fight turned into a war; sporadic bursts interlaced with stalking and staging. Another aged fighter may have had trouble keeping up with the whirlwind Diaz, but let us not forget that Marquez has survived (and according to some won) two epic wars with Pacquiao.
Not only that, but in his last outing, Marquez out-foxed Joel Casamayor and knocked him out for the first time in the Cuban’s career.
If ever a man has walked through a wall of fire it is Juan Manuel Marquez. He seemed troubled, even perturbed, by Diaz’s onslaught, but was never in real danger.
And, if you look closely, you will see that many of Diaz’s barrages were either deflected or ducked while being cleverly countered.
Throughout the fight, Marquez would survive the flurries, counter to the body to sap the young man’s strength, and then turn Diaz around and put him against the ropes. It was a triage of boxing skill that can only be learned from hard experience.
Soon, the Mexican warrior found a home for his uppercut and in the ninth round used it to put Diaz down twice, the second time for good in a most spectacular fashion.
Jim Lampley mused in the third round that this fight was perceived as “Man vs. Boy” but that it was “Man vs. Man.” He was right, of course. Diaz fought with the kind of gallant heart that endures fans to this, the greatest of sports.
But while Diaz was learning what it means to be a man, Marquez has been privy to that knowledge for some time, and it was this discrepancy of wisdom that made a difference.
In the end, while Diaz showed us why he could be one of the best, Marquez showed us why he is one of the best. And in passing on this valuable knowledge to an apt pupil, Marquez proved himself to be a more capable teacher.