The Quiet Strength of Juan Manuel Marquez

Christopher FalvelloCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2009

As I watch HBO’s 24/7 program showcasing Juan Manuel Marquez and Floyd Mayweather, one thing becomes strikingly apparent:  these two guys are monsters. 

It is both frightening and exhilarating to see the mental change within these proud warriors as they steel themselves for their upcoming collision.

What I’ve found most interesting is the way that Juan Manuel carries himself as he prepares. 

He jokes about “turkey boogers” as he gleefully downs raw quail eggs, unassumingly helps his son with math, then plays a friendly game of FIFA, and finally, and most shockingly, discusses drinking his own urine, on camera, as though he were espousing the newest super diet. 

But despite these somewhat comical, and sometimes just plain gross, exploits and his quiet, courteous demeanor, there is a latent lethality to him.  Just below the pleasant and inviting exterior, lurking in the netherworld of his mind, is a warrior prepared to do whatever it takes, at any cost, to earn a victory. 

Marquez may sing with his family and play with his kids, nieces, and nephews, but he also wanders around volcanoes 14,000 feet (4267 meters) above sea-level, chucking boulders through the air for fun.  He pops speed bags and works his sparring partners over like they owe him money. 

This dichotomy is what I can only describe as quiet strength.  A level of self confidence and mental focus that is well and above that of any man. 

The seemingly bi-polar nature is a by product of the psychological change.  Having reached a profound level of ability, something in the fighter changes and he becomes a genuinely nice person, unless of course your fighting them. 

In which case one will be faced with a hurricane.

Not to say that “Money” hasn’t also reached a similar level of mental calm.  Mayweather certainly carries himself with the braggadocio and self-espousing rhetoric endemic to the rap sub-culture, but if he didn’t have the mental focus to execute on a high level, he wouldn’t be 39-0 right now. 

As I said, it’s watching the mental preparations that these fighters are making that intrigues me so much about 24/7.  In their own minds, they go somewhere else.  A place where they are infallible and their opponents totally open.  A strange nirvana of sport where for an instant that seems to last a lifetime, they are perfect.  Such confidence and psychological presence is rare, and an absolute pleasure to watch. 

I don’t know if this mental strength will be enough for Marquez to overcome the considerable challenges in his way.  I do know that when things reach their worst and the fight turns bad, it will be this same mental determination that will save him.

Win, loose, or draw, one has to admit that Juan Manuel Marquez is a fighter of extra-ordinary strength, even if he carries it quietly.