Mayweather Vs. Marquez: The Battle of the Second Best?

Mio de la CruzContributor IMay 13, 2009

LAS VEGAS - MAY 02:  (L-R) Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. poses with boxer Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico during a news conference announcing the return of Mayweather Jr. to the ring and his upcoming fight against Marquez on July 18 during the news conference at the Hollywood Theatre in the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino May 2, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

If Juan Manuel Marquez had won over Manny Pacquiao, the former would have fought and won over boxing legend Oscar de la Hoya and steamrolled over British brawler Ricky Hatton to emerge as the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer.

However, a boxing judge scored his card in favor of Pacquiao, allowing the latter to win the bout by a split decision and earning his passage to two high-profile matches against de la Hoya and Hatton. 

To this day, Marquez claims to have won his battle against Pacquiao and wants to meet him once again in a third and final encounter. 

Despite an offer of a $6 million guarantee from Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, the Filipino champion continued to give Marquez a lukewarm reception purportedly on Bob Arum’s advice to “let it bake for awhile.” 

Unable to secure another rematch against Pacquiao, Marquez, 50-4 win-loss record, moved up in weight to challenge then lightweight champion Joel Cassamayor on Sept. 13, 2008, and triumphed with an 11-round stoppage that also earned him his sixth world title in three weight divisions. Five months later, he faced IBO champion Juan Diaz and knocked him out cold in the ninth to snare the lightweight crown of boxing bodies IBO, WBO and WBA.

It likewise earned him the nod to a megabuck fight against returning undefeated junior welterweight champion and former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., 39-0, that will serve as prelude to a possible encounter with Pacquiao.

If Mayweather expects an easy stroll-in-the-park victory over Marquez, he could be in for a big surprise. The battle-scarred Mexican warrior is no easy picking and is determined to score a win for the chance to renew his challenge against Pacquiao, who had scored a sensational two-round TKO over Hatton last May 2.  

At 32, Mayweather is still at the peak of his career, but his 19-month inactive status might work against him when he fights Marquez, 35, who is coming off from two impressive victories over tough fighters and has not shown any signs of diminished power despite his age.   

Mayweather’s long hibernation from the ring and Marquez’ jump from 135 pounds to 144 pounds might affect the quality of the duel as these two factors would tend to slow down both fighters, known to be counter punchers and tend to wait to be attacked before launching their own fistic missiles.  

The weight factor favors Mayweather, whose last four battles were in the range of 146 to 150 pounds, while Marquez jumped from 130 to 135 pounds only last year. Against Mayweather, he needs an additional nine pounds to make the official weight, an upgrade that could have significant bearing on his speed and power.  

The two fighters badly need to pull off a victory for the right to face to Pacquiao, whose ring feats has made him one of Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the world.  Mayweather, who was reportedly paid $25 million in his bout against de la Hoya, has been offered a guarantee of $12 million to fight Marquez.

Boxing pundits may be right in saying that this fight could turn out to be a yawner given the two boxers' hit-and-run, wait-and-counter moves, but this could likewise be a beautiful prelude to a blockbuster between Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather or Marquez. 

For sure, whoever will emerge winner in this battle poses a serious threat to Pacquiao’s reign as best pound-for-pound boxer and probably become the greatest boxer of all time.