All things must pass.
This truth is more easily seen in fighters than the rest of us. Where our job performance might begin to lack some late in life like a fighter’s, it most assuredly doesn’t happen as soon or end up with us lying flat on our backs while the world stares on in disappointment.
Moreover, a fighter’s career ends with much of life left out ahead. If there is nothing else to fall back on, one can end up living on the streets or even worse, especially if one didn’t make the most of his earning potential while he still had some fight left.
Juan Manuel Marquez is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. He’s already a surefire Hall of Famer, and while his performance has stayed consistently high as he’s ventured up the ranks in both age and weight, that likely isn’t to continue very much longer.
Marquez is 40 years old. The next time you see him in the ring will most assuredly be after his August 23 birthday when he’ll turn 41.
After defeating Mike Alvarado in an exciting slugfest last Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood, California, it is imperative for Marquez to make the most of his career going forward.
Being a former accountant, he should be able to calculate this better than any of us.
Marquez has only two worthwhile options at this point in his career, and they’re both against fighters he’s tussled with before.
A fifth fight with Manny Pacquiao would get him the most money of any potential matchup out there—and for good reason. The two men have squared off four times, each fight being superb.
While Pacquiao holds the overall edge 2-1-1 against Marquez, the Mexican won by stunning Round 6 knockout last time out to score the only definitive win of the series. The rest were close and hotly contested decisions.
But Marquez seems reluctant to take a fifth Pacquiao fight, most likely because he wishes to preserve the moment of his knockout win forever in his mind as well as the minds of fight fans.
The other top fight for Marquez would be a rematch with Timothy Bradley. Marquez lost a close decision to Bradley in October 2013 and would probably like nothing more than another go at it.
But Bradley is now coming off a loss to Pacquiao, and after suffering the first official loss of his career, he has probably lost some of his promotional luster.
Still, both Marquez and Bradley are big enough names to make the fight doable and somewhat lucrative.
But after that, Marquez doesn’t have many viable options left.
Oh sure, there’s Ruslan Provodnikov.
A Marquez-Provodnikov match would be something to behold. Marquez is a sharp counterpuncher who throws blistering combinations with courage and conviction. Provodnikov is an offensive juggernaut who breaks opponents down with the best of them.
But that fight is only interesting to the hardcore fight fans and probably wouldn’t earn Marquez the kind of coin he’d require to scuffle with such a dangerous competitor.
There was a time when Marquez appeared to be on a collision course with Brandon Rios. But Rios suffered consecutive losses to Alvarado and Pacquiao in 2013 and would only be a mild draw now compared to what he once was.
Plus, is there any reason we’d want to see Marquez take on a fighter who’s lost to guys Marquez has already beaten?
Alvarado put up a good effort against Marquez on Saturday, but the pre-fight buzz for the bout was almost nonexistent.
And while he came on late in the fight, scoring a knockdown in Round 9, the reality of the wide-decision loss is something that would probably make Top Rank steer clear of a rematch so soon after the first bout.
So Marquez has only two real places to look. It’s either Pacquiao or Bradley next for him, and that’s what makes the most sense almost any way you look at it.
In fact, if Marquez has but two fights left in his storied career, you’d be hard-pressed to find two better candidates to fit the slots than them.
Marquez is one of the better fighters of his generation. Ending his career with lucrative paydays against top competition will only solidify his place in history, and it won’t hurt his life after boxing, either.
If Marquez is to make the most of the twilight of his career, it will be against Pacquiao and Bradley.