I have read some outcry over Juan Manuel Marquez as Manny Pacquiao's next opponent, both from respectable writers and amateur pundits like myself. The logic is that Pacquiao is just too big for Marquez at this stage of their careers, with Manny having developed into a full-fledged welterweight. Marquez' lone effort above 135 was the lackluster, one-sided polishing by Floyd Mayweather in 2009. So how can we reason that a little guy like Marquez, who was wiped out in his previous effort this high above his weight class two years ago, can take on the purported best welterweight in the world in Manny Pacquiao and give him any sort of competitive fight? I'm not sure that we have to say the fight will be competitive to argue that, in light of the other options, the fight should take place.
For I too, in all honest appraisal, feel like this is headed toward a decisive Pacquiao beat down of the great champion from Mexico. Size will be a huge disadvantage, and Marquez looked sluggish against Floyd when he tried to come in the ring bigger than he had before. I just feel like at this stage, Pacquiao has almost all of the physical advantages with improved maturity and superior skills. It does indeed appear to be a one-sided fight, but Marquez has more claim to prove myself and all of the other doubters wrong than almost anyone in the world.
With the brash former pound-for-pound ruler Floyd Mayweather on a self-imposed time-out, there was only one other legitimate contender: The newly crowned WBC welterweight champ Victor Ortiz. The fight could have theoretically been a unification bout at welterweight, with Mayweather inactive. The Top Rank-Golden Boy feud squashed that, probably best for Ortiz who could use a bit more experience before jousting with a fighter like Pacquiao.
There were a slew of other names mentioned, none of which can boast the special claim of Juan Manuel Marquez. He's fought Manny in two of the closest, most action-packed exciting fights of the last decade. Manny has never decisively beaten him.
Tim Bradley, coming off of a dreadful win over Devon Alexander, needed one more big fight to prove himself truly worthy. He had that fight with Amir Khan on July 23, but for reasons that remain mystifying, he walked away from it. He should never have been considered as an opponent for Manny Pacquiao.
Zab Judah ends up with the Khan fight. Judah was also discussed as a dark horse option for Pacquiao. Some mused that the styles could make for a tough fight for Manny. I'm not sure what they were thinking. Zab Judah deserves Pacquiao on the basis of what? His razor-thin controversial SD win over Lucas Matthysse in a fight where he was dropped late? His admittedly dazzling knockout of Kaizer Mabuza? If it's the latter, it was a great shot and showed that Zab's always carried some power. If you analyze the fight as a whole, Zab, under the tutelage of Sweet Pea, was on the defensive the first six rounds: circling around the ring in a turtle shell, popping off a jab or two here or there. I'm not sure how those two wins propel you into the discussion for the most lucrative shot in boxing, a chance to dethrone the pound-for-pound King. Let's see how Judah fares against Khan in what will be an interesting fight to say the least.
All said, Marquez wants this fight and he deserves this fight. I guess the only thing that matters now is he got the fight. It feels like a mismatch, and I wouldn't anticipate the fireworks of the first two events. If I were a gambling man, I'd probably go Pacquiao by TKO or KO.
I know regardless of the outcome, aside from Money Mayweather or arguably Victor Ortiz, there's not a more deserving man to be in that ring with Pacquiao come November.
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