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Jun 05th
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Home Boxing The Surrogate Pacquiao
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The Surrogate Pacquiao

manny_paquiao_vs_juan_marquIt’s been almost two years but former World Welterweight Champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather is defying his own odds; making his comeback against THE RING World Lightweight Champion Juan Manuel Marquez.

Now none of this is new information, of course, but it still means something to Mayweather; who seriously plies the September 19th fight as a great challenge when it’s really a thinly veiled mission: Beat Manny Pacquiao without actually facing him. More on that later…

There’s wisdom to almost everything Mayweather does and it’s shown throughout a brilliant career. Where many fighters with less-than-perfect records have pushed forward with an “Only the strong survive” mentality, Mayweather, 39-0 (25), has taken the path of least resistance; showing a calculated approach in preserving the longevity (as well as his undefeated professional record) of his career. Another thing you already knew.

Against Marquez, Mayweather unabashedly stays the course, yet keeps himself safe by setting up his opponent for failure while reaping all the benefits of thrashing an A-list, future Hall-of-Famer. The ultimate win-win. Just like every other opponent he knew he would beat in the past almost-seven years since his rematch win over would-be lightweight champ Jose Luis Castillo. As the demands on his body took hold, his own demands on his name and wallet took hold as well.

In layperson’s terms, as “Pretty Boy” grew into higher weight classes, his name shortened to “Money” and his prestige shrank even further by choosing not to take on the best with each divisional rung of the ladder to greatness. But Mayweather’s sell would remain impeccable. Beat a guy with an alphabet belt and not just bolster a legacy but tout the relative abilities and toughness of the fallen in order to make his own feat seem monumental.

And we’re all in on the joke…or we just don’t know if we’re supposed to laugh since Mayweather seems to be so serious about the whole undertaking.

And he is. And Mayweather truly believes he’ll enhance his legacy with a win over Marquez. It’s no deterrent to the rest of the welterweight division but it’s still one hell of a tune-up. Even more the anomaly being Marquez a pound-for-pound list entrant and Mayweather not. But weight’s the initial beef and, on paper, it looks like typical Floyd hijinks. Marquez’ highest competitive weight is 135; where he should be fighting, if not 130. Of course, Mayweather picks up where he left off at welterweight; his highest weight being 154 to face Oscar De La Hoya in May of 2007.

Marquez, 50-4-1 (37), showed adjustment to spare in coming to lightweight. He seemed to carry his power adequately in his lightweight debut a year ago (and five months after dropping a split decision loss to Pacquiao at junior lightweight); a World Championship win via 11the round TKO over Joel Casamayor. Five months later, Marquez would annex two vacant alphabet belts in turning away the younger Juan Diaz; cementing his position as the man to beat at 135. At one time (2002, specifically), Mayweather was in Marquez’ very position. But Mayweather didn’t have to play by another fighter’s rules to find his opponents north of lightweight. He picked and chose. For whatever reason, Marquez saw the Mayweather invite as an offer he couldn’t refuse, though he wasn’t exactly hurting for opponents at 135. THE RING’s top five lightweights alone would give Marquez two-and-a-half years worth of decent defenses. So here we are, fretting about weight.

Secondary to weight in the common collection of concerns, naturally, is the age difference between the two. Marquez just turned 35. Mayweather is three years younger. Although three years is often a relative eternity in Our Sport, it’s a meaningless variable to Marquez; proven in his rout of Diaz. What makes age work for Mayweather has less to do with being younger as it does with as much ring age Marquez has accumulated in 55 career outings. Marquez’ last five fights through the last two-and-a-half years were against Marco Antonio Barrera (UD 12), Rocky Juarez (UD 12), Manny Pacquiao (rematch loss, SD 12), Casamayor and Diaz. Not exactly figurative lightweights. Lots of wear. Lots of tear.

Mayweather’s last five fights were, of course, all victories over Sharmba Mitchell (TKO 6), Zab Judah (UD 12), Carlos Baldomir (UD 12), Oscar De La Hoya (SD 12) and Ricky Hatton (TKO 10). All based on calculated effort to rise, gain a couple of belts (one a legitimate World Championship against Baldomir, the other, an empty hunk of IBF costume jewelry) and beat a faded legend. Not so much wear. Not so much tear.

Will wear and tear serve as a defining variable? Maybe, but that’s still really uncertain due to each man’s respective layoff. Marquez got something of a two-month reprieve due to a Mayweather rib injury many insiders are attributing to his sparring in preparation for Marquez. If anything, the postponement serves as a sharpening period for Marquez. If he improved his speed any during the extension, combining speed with Marquez’ already keen accuracy will be a boon to the Mexican. The postponement probably didn’t do much for Mayweather, if anything. Floyd’s supreme conditioning (impeccable even in a recent AT&T commercial, goofing off with A&E’s Bill Kurtis) alone showed his gym rat dedication to physical preservation but also showed that his prep for Marquez was in the making long before his announcement to fight the World Lightweight Champion. What’s a couple more months? A chance for “Money” to add just a little more artistic detail to a masterpiece. If anything, Mayweather’s 21-month vacation from Our Sport is his biggest hurdle.

The outcome of Mayweather-Marquez won’t just be based on the skill levels of these men. Marquez, a sharp counterpuncher, is so pinpoint accurate, it’s frightening and is a fine defense of its own. Mayweather’s defense, often near-sublime, has to be dialed to 11. Marquez must also move in tandem with Mayweather it he’s to be the aggressor. If it connects, one laser from Marquez can and will end it all.

Mayweather’s skill, born from an amazing amateur career, is embellished with blinding speed. His strength is often understated in comparison to that speed but don’t discount it. Though at welterweight, look back at Mayweather’s beating of Hatton. Regardless of referee Joe Cortez’ impact on Hatton’s style (much maligned by Hatton himself), Hatton wasn’t game or adept enough at 147 to affect Mayweather but took a pounding predicated on speed but sealed with punishing force. Not unlike Marquez, one punch is all it takes. However, Marquez is easier to hit.

The true deciding factor in Mayweather-Marquez will be in how badly Mayweather wants to thrash Marquez. Mayweather wants so badly to destroy the man who twice took Manny Pacquiao to the limit; thus sending a message to the pound-for-pound best. Had he his druthers, Mayweather would stop Marquez; beating him like “Dinamita” peed on an expensive rug in Money’s lavish Vegas digs (and you can’t rub Marquez’ nose in it because, apparently, he’ll suck it out of the rug…). It’s also a statement to “Pac-Man”: “You couldn’t put Marquez away in two fights. Look what I did in one.”

Mayweather cannot stand being second best at anything. He doesn’t lose. He even won while faking it up for the WWE. You can’t really call his voting off of “Dancing with the Stars” a loss. What HBO’s “Mayweather-Hatton 24/7” didn’t do for the hotly-anticipated mega-fight, the ABC celebrity competition did in gaining potential new fight fans. But seeing Pac’s name at the top of the pound-for-pound ratings (for what it’s really worth) must eat at him like a necrotizing fasciitis.

And as much as he’d like it to work out that way, Mayweather beating Marquez won’t get his number one spot back, no matter how dominant the win and it certainly won’t serve as a surrogate win over Pacquiao. The only way Mayweather will ever reap satisfaction is if he actually faces Pacquiao and that’s a possibility if Cotto beats Pacquiao in November. The inverse rings equally true should Pac beat Cotto.

But I see Mayweather-Marquez winding up like most of you do in a unanimous decision win for “Money.” If he can set the pace and make Marquez fight his fight, as he did Ricky Hatton, Mayweather can serve up a nice boxing clinic while eroding Marquez. Marquez does stand a chance of getting more work done, should he make it to the championship rounds (as I think he will), but Mayweather will make his adjustments and coast and confuse the lightweight champ like he’s never been.

Hopefully, with the loss, Marquez can make the best of the remainder of his career by returning to lightweight and knocking out a few defenses of his World Championship before soon retiring. He deserves to go out on top and defenses against WBC titlist Edwin Valero and Rolando Reyes would be welcome additions to his masterful career.

As for Mayweather? Who knows? No matter what, he’ll defend whatever he does. When I wrote for Doghouse Boxing, I predicted a match against WBC welterweight titlist Andre Berto. I stick by that one merely because a WBC belt (Floyd’s fave) would be on the line and Luis Collazo gave Berto fits. Mayweather would likely school him completely.

Or maybe Juan Manuel Marquez will land that one laser end it all; putting us all out of the misery of having to wonder ever again.

Associate Editor Coyote Duran is irritated because Diane Sawyer got the “ABC World News” gig and he didn’t. Maybe he can get a squinky AT&T commercial alongside Bill Kurtis as consolation… If you’d like to point at Coyote and laugh, please e-mail him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also track Coyote at and or send him over the edge by calling him a “tracer” after visiting

But he doesn’t “Tweet.” Sorry.

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PeteR  - Very insightful |
Great insight - did not consider this angle. Very well-written article.
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