If I know anything about boxing, I know that the post-fight discussion of Juan Manuel Marquez's performance Saturday night against Manny Pacquiao will be about missed opportunities and questions of whether he will retire.
That's simply unfair.
We witnessed a 38-year-old fighter in an unfamiliar weight division push the world's top-ranked fighter—six years his junior—to the limit.
Many of us, me included, expected this bout to be an easier one for Pacquiao. He has been dominant lately, and was fighting in a good division. Marquez has had some good wins, but maybe not against the world-class opposition that Pacquiao has.
Many of us thought Marquez would be trounced by Pacquiao.
We were wrong.
Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao gave us the best high-profile bout we've seen this year. What other pay-per-view has delivered like this recently? You could argue that the undercard of the Hopkins-Dawson bout was better, but I'll take a quality, well-fought main event over a highly competitive undercard any day.
Mayweather-Ortiz? Pacquiao-Mosley? Hopkins-Pascal?
You have got to be kidding me.
Juan Manuel Marquez is a tremendous fighter and in my opinion, a future Hall of Famer. His trilogy with Pacquiao has been the most legendary trilogy in which one of the fighters didn't win any of the bouts. Juan Manuel Marquez may go down in history as an under-appreciated fighter, but he has fought his heart out three times with the pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world and come out with a tremendous amount of respect.
Who is the last guy that made Pacquiao look even slightly vulnerable? The much-heralded Ricky Hatton couldn't. Antonio Margarito couldn't despite being at his natural weight division. Miguel Cotto—one of my favorite fighters and among the most respectable in the game today—didn't win more than three rounds against Pacquiao.
Sure, you can talk about tactical errors and Nacho Beristain's false assurances to his fighter, but there's one man that's hard to criticize for the way he performed as a 9-to-1 underdog Saturday night. Juan Manuel Marquez deserves your respect. He may not have gotten the win, but Marquez deserves fans' appreciation for giving us a great night of boxing and helping prove what the world's No. 1 fighter is made of.
In my opinion, Marquez should retain his No. 5 pound-for-pound ranking, and should be due for another high-profile bout soon. He is a fighter we are privileged to be able to continue to watch.
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