As appetizers go, it was a particularly satisfying morsel.
And now that he’s unanimously dispensed with a far-more-rugged-than-most Mike Alvarado, Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez can presumably go about the familiar business of getting ready for a fight with decade-long and multiple-weight class Filipino rival Manny Pacquiao.
The contracts haven’t been signed, and Marquez didn’t exactly leap at the “Do you want to fight Manny Pacquiao?” bait tossed in front of him by HBO’s Max Kellerman after the Alvarado fight Saturday night, but all the other elements seem in place for matchup No. 5 by the end of 2014.
Top Rank impresario Bob Arum said during fight week that he’d welcome the chance to promote a fifth go-round between the foes, who have already produced three close 12-round fights and one memorable one-punch knockout since 2004—and he’s not bound by traditional pecking order in getting it done.
I will offer the winner a fight with Manny and it’s up to the winner to accept or reject it. So that’s where we stand and if I hear that the winner will be interested in fighting Manny in the fall—and Manny has agreed to fight the winner—so I would say that once we got the terms straightened out it would be a done deal.
Saturday’s bout between Marquez and Alvarado was billed as a match that would produce a mandatory challenger to Pacquiao’s World Boxing Organization title at 147 pounds, in spite of the fact that Marquez was unranked at welterweight in the WBO’s Top 15 for May, and Alvarado was just No. 5.
Alvarado, in fact, hadn’t even been above 140 pounds since a TKO of Joshua Burns in 2010, and he entered the long-dormant Forum in the L.A. suburbs with two stoppage losses in his last three fights.
Incidentally, the WBO’s incumbent top contender at 147—one Bethuel Ushona—was also in action Saturday night in his native Namibia, defeating Ebenezer Lamptey to improve his career mark to 32-2-1.
But he was nary an afterthought once Michael Buffer finished the pre-fight preliminaries, and the 40-year-old Marquez already appeared in top Pacquiao-level form while bedeviling the bigger, younger Alvarado with superior hand speed, spatial control and punch precision through six rounds.
Alvarado giving Marquez every chance to paint a masterpiece here. And he is.— Brian Campbell (@BCampbellESPN) May 18, 2014
The clinic began resembling a real scrap once it got beyond the halfway point, though, as was evidenced by a Marquez right hand that dumped Alvarado on his backside in the final few seconds of the eighth round, and a counter right from Alvarado that felled Marquez in a heavy exchange in Round 9.
The two fought in torrid spurts down the stretch, too, which ultimately left Alvarado bearing hideous lumps around the eyes and a jagged inch-long cut on the left cheek. Marquez was not without his own battle scars, and he eventually encountered Kellerman with a face full of bright red abrasions.
Are you excited about a fifth Pacquiao-Marquez fight?
The Mexican won a clear, decisive decision by fair margins—taking 10, 10 and 11 of the 12 rounds on three scorecards. This Bleacher Report card had him ahead 118-109, with wins in all but two rounds.
Marquez landed 163 of his 287 power punches (57 percent) to Alvarado’s 85 of 250 (34 percent).
“I did expect this fight,” he said. “Mike Alvarado was strong and fast and very worthy. I said it was going to be tough. I wanted to give the public a gift and dignify the history (of the building).”
And speaking of history…if it feels kind of like deja vu, it’s only because we’ve all been here before.