FAST ONE: Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez Preview


Boxing, like politics, televangelists, and used car salesmen, inspires a healthy mix of cynicism and contempt. It is not always a justified reaction. But when Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez meet Saturday night at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, skeptics might find their pessimism spectacularly vindicated.

Not only is this fight as suspicious as letterhead from the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy, it is also the latest in a series of senseless catchweight bouts made primarily for the benefit of HBO, Golden Boy Promotions, and silly “P-4-P” Fantasy League aficionados. In the end, Mayweather-Marquez is just another jerry-rigged event greased along by a compliant press corps made up almost entirely of fans. Hourly twittering about urine, tax liens, ticket sales, P-4-P ratings, and “24/7,” an infomercial only slightly less contrived than the WWE, makes it seem like this fight is essentially for the Media Overkill Championship of the World.

To be clear: This bout may or may not turn out to be competitive; its initial intent, however, appears fraudulent. But even the best con games sometimes curdle and leave a scheming flimflammer or two in the lurch. Nothing in boxing is a sure thing. Cuts, disqualifications, point deductions, injuries, lunatic judges, and one well-placed blow to the temple can change the course of a fight in a nanosecond. Unfortunately for Marquez, who as recently as three years ago was hitting the scale under the featherweight limit, it looks like he might need some kind of divine intervention to upset the odds against Floyd Mayweather Jr.  If not for the fact that Mayweather has been out of the ring for nearly two years, this bout would be a travesty.  Is it possible that Marquez can win? Yes. Is it possible that a skydiver whose parachute malfunctions in midair can survive a fall of 8, 000 feet? Yes, but there is not a skydiver in the world willing to take action on that prop.

A 3½ to 1 underdog on most books, Marquez will have to use every ounce of his considerable ability to overcome a talented opponent with a pronounced physical advantage. Marquez is a highly skilled technician who, at 36, appears to be slowing down. In recent fights he has taken serious punishment from Juan Diaz and Joel Casamayor before scoring dramatic knockouts, and was dropped early by Manny Pacquiao in their thrill-a-second shootout last year. It is a testament to his incredible resilience, guile, and skill that Marquez was able to defeat Diaz and Casamayor and go twelve rounds with Pacquiao on even terms. Still, Casamayor appeared to be at the end of the road when he fought Marquez and Diaz did not have the firepower to follow up on some of his advantages.  Since posting a virtual shutout against Rocky Juarez in 2007, Marquez, 50-4-1 (37), has been even or behind on points in each of his last three fights, or 6 out of 9 possible scorecards. In addition to being dropped by Pacquiao, he was unofficially floored by Marco Antonio Barrera in a bout marred by the officiating of accident prone Jay Nady. Marquez has also suffered cuts with increasing frequency over the last few years. At this point he might be past his peak.

On the other hand, Marquez has been active while Mayweather has been shooting dice in his gaudy Las Vegas mansion. By far the biggest concern for Mayweather, Las Vegas via Grand Rapids, Michigan, is his absence from the ring. But if you are going to come  back from an extended layoff, it might as well be against a fighter whose best  days were at featherweight and junior lightweight.

For his part, Mayweather will have to shed three pounds in order to reach the arbitrary limit of 144 pounds. Marquez, who has weighed in over the junior lightweight limit three times in his career, is the much smaller man and bulking up might slow him down or make him stronger or affect his stamina or give him the punching power of Rocky Marciano or make him speak in tongues. No one will know until fight time. These days Manny Pacquiao, by virtue of his TKO over Oscar De La Hoya last year, is the measuring stick for fighters who spring over weight classes like pole vaulters. But Pacquiao is a speed demon with the added advantage of being a southpaw, and De La Hoya certainly miscalculated the entire affair, coming into the ring nearly two pounds under the welterweight limit in a folly that sent the smart money pouring in against him come fight night. Pacquiao is also younger than Marquez is and it is probably fair at this point to consider “Pac Man” sui generis.

Marquez, who has won titles in three divisions, is as good as any fighter who has come along in the last decade or so.  Ditto Mayweather. If two fighters are roughly equal in skill then the determinants are almost exclusively intangibles: heart, will, size, etc.  The biggest intangible going into the fight appears to be size. But Mayweather is also a gifted fighter. An obnoxious blowhard with uncommon talent, Mayweather, 39-0 (27), has seen many of his accomplishments overshadowed by his radioactive personality. It is true that he has bypassed select challenges along the way, but his biggest winsagainst Genaro Hernandez, Jose Luis Castillo, Diego Corrales, Oscar De La Hoya, and Ricky Hattonare legitimate achievements. He has also beaten a slew of solid pros like Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez, Angel Manfredy, and Goyo Vargas.

A prime Mayweather is faster, stronger, and more athletic than Marquez. The question here is whether  the Mayweather who enters the ring on Saturday night is in top form after nearly two years away from boxing.  Even before his recent hibernation, Mayweather appeared to be slipping a  bit.  Since moving up to welterweight, Mayweather, formerly a defensive whiz  kid, has appeared easier to hit.  This trend favors Marquez, a pinpoint combination puncher who wastes little and sees every opening when on the attack. Mayweather has, however, shown a solid chin over the years  when he has been hit. The lone official knockdown scored against him came when he collapsed from agony after hurting his hand against Carlos Hernandez. Sharmba Mitchell landed flush shots from his southpaw stance in 2005, but Mayweather shook them off on his way to a violent 6th round TKO. Zab Judah appeared to drop Mayweather early but Richard Steele was in the middle of a catnap and ruled it a slip. Otherwise, only “Chop Chop” Corley has managed to rattle him.

In other words, it is hard to imagine a scenario where Marquez knocks Mayweather out unless a sudden chin short-circuiting takes place. Marquez is a good puncher, at least at lightweight and below, but if Jose Luis Castillo could not stop Mayweather, it seems unlikely that Marquez, based on power alone, can. In his prime as a lightweight, Castillo had sledgehammers for fists, and Mayweather took dozens of his punches in a fight Castillo appeared to edge out. To his credit, Mayweather gave him an immediate rematch and won a clear unanimous decision. Twenty-four rounds with Jose Luis Castillo seems like a fair barometer with which to judge an ability to absorb punishment.

It is also hard to imagine Marquez outboxing Mayweather over twelve rounds. With a 5″ reach advantage to go with quicker hands and feet, Mayweather would only seem to benefit from a deliberate chess match. That leaves the option of outworking Mayweather, which is possible given how much time Mayweather spends on defense looking for counterpunching opportunities. Marquez may try to apply steady pressure, especially to the body, in hopes of simply being busier than his opponent. But Marquez, originally from Mexico City and now fighting out of Anaheim, California, may be in for a surprise if Mayweather decides to open up or exchange punches. Despite his reputation as a safety first practitioner, Mayweather, 32, has occasionally come out primed for mayhem over the years; Philip N’Dou, Sharmba Mitchell, and DeMarcus Corley all took significant thrashings from a revved up Mayweather. Against a smaller fighter, one he feels cannot do much damage, Mayweather might try to make a similar kind of impression on Saturday night.  If so, he should be able to outpoint Marquez clearly or possibly force a late stoppage via cuts. Marquez appears to be terribly outgunned, but he is a professional fighter of fierce determination and pride. He will be one of the few to earn his millions at the MGM Grand Arena.




Tags: Boxing Catchweights Embroidered Style Floyd Mayweather Jr. Jose Luis Castillo Juan Manuel Marquez Las Vegas Lightweights Manny Pacquiao Obnoxious Blowhards Underdogs Welterweights WWE

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  • Martin

    As good a fight breakdown as I have seen for this Saturday’s match-up. Surprised you don’t like the 24/7 series though. Yes, it’s an infomercial, but it’s a very well-produced one that shows the behind-the-scenes of two top fight camps. I for one, really enjoy watching them. Just don’t let the excellent production fool you into thinking that Marquez has much of a chance.

  • http://www.thecruelestsport.blogspot.com/ CARLOS ACEVEDO

    Hi Martin,
    Thanks for writing. You are probably right about “24/7,” I was just cranky! Seriously, I like to watch behind the scenes stuff, too, but we should keep in mind that these programs are intended to promote an expensive PPV event. Which is fine, I guess, but the media takes all this stuff too seriously….they are practically in cahoots with promoters most of the time in hyping non-events into events…

  • The Boxing Stop

    You Seem angry. I like it.

  • http://www.thecruelestsport.blogspot.com/ CARLOS ACEVEDO

    Nah. I’m just saying, keep hyping featherweights vs. welterweights and what do you get? More featherweights vs. welterweights…especially if Marquez somehow wins by one of the loopy variables in boxing….then we may see Shane Mosley against a Patagonian Giant!

  • Nathan

    Another great read Mr. Acevedo. Is the Marquez v. Mayweather more of an attempt from HBO and Goldenboy to make Marquez the patsy for a Mayweather “comeback” and to setup a future bout with Pacquiao?

  • http://www.thecruelestsport.blogspot.com/ CARLOS ACEVEDO

    Well, the first part is essentially correct, but there is no guarantee that Pacquiao and Mayweather will meet, although there seems to be way too much money involved for it not to happen. The point here is that these bogus catchweight bouts are meant to be sold to the public based solely on name recognition and not necessarily on competitive aspects. 90% of these recent mix n match Fantasy League bouts are promoted by Golden Boy and purchased by HBO. For the most part, only Manny Pacquaio has succeeded. Pavlik lost his catchweight bout to Hopkins, Winky Wright lost his catchweight bout to Hopkins, Felix Trinidad lost his catchweight bout with Roy Jones, etc. It is an attempt to draw casual fans into boxing despite the fact that the bouts lack competitive merit. They are also stand alone events meant to enrich the principals involved. Unless some backlash hits the promoters, they will continue to offer Fantasy league bouts instead of meaningful fights that have consequences in the everyday context of boxing. On the other hand, it is nice to see Marquez, a fantastic fighter, earn some big money.

  • Martin

    Nathan – Absolutely, I believe that this fight is meant to set up a matchup between Mayweather and Pacquiao. Marquez has a name, and he is known for giving Pacquiao fits. All part of the hype machine…
    Pacquiao has the tougher test by fighting Cotto. I love that matchup. Let’s just hope that Mayweather fights the winner, even if its not Pacquiao.
    Carlos – I hear you. Its frustrating when people who know better give more credibility to these catch-weight fights. Why even have weight classes these days? 24/7 is a hell of a lot of fun to watch though!

  • http://www.thecruelestsport.blogspot.com/ CARLOS ACEVEDO

    I definitely like the theme music of “24/7…” Another thing about these catchweight bouts is that none of them are competitive! Perhaps with the exception of Hopkins-Wright, which was not a great fight but seemingly closer than the scorecards indicated, all of these fights have been one-sided washouts…A fight like Bradley-Peterson is much more interesting: two talented guys in their natural weight class, at or close to their primes, in a fight that has meaning other than being an “event.”
    You know, I’m not sure those who know better actually know better, they are just the loudest. But I admit, if you remove the words “Me,” Myself,” and “I” from their posts/blogs/sites you might actually find something about boxing floating around.
    There is also a strange boxing variation of the Nostradamus Effect going on: Writers who consistently pick enough longshots to win and wait for the law of averages to kick in once in a while and then proclaim their genius when it does….I don’t root for particular fighters to win on this blog, but it would mean serious collateral damage if Marquez upset the dope and the informed braggarts all started barking simultaneously…the sonic barrier would break, earthquakes would erupt, and the world wide web would crash in an instant.

  • johnpaulfutbol

    Carlos,
    Very good preview, I read it last night and wanted to comment etc. But, this weight issue has me gutted. What enthusiasm I manufactured for this event, is gone. PBF already had all the advantages etc, now this is just farce.
    LOL on the longshots/law of averages thing! I’ve been trying to talk myself into believing JMM could do it. And actually picked JMM just for the hell of it, because in street lingo, I’m a “hater” of PBF.
    Good stuff as usual, but man I’m pissed!

  • http://www.thecruelestsport.blogspot.com/ CARLOS ACEVEDO

    Hi JPF,
    The weight issue is inexplicable, but most likely it involves some kind of skullduggery. The only way any of this will be forgotten is if JMM wins…but this is the kind of thing we can all do without. On top of the Showtime farce last week, we have this. This fight smelled fishy the minute it was signed and has smelled worse and worse with each passing day. I mean, until the weigh-in, I couldn’t even find a Tale of the Tape that was correct! ESPN’s Fight Credential measurements had Mayweather with a 65″ reach, shorter than Marquez’. Chaos everywhere, man. No professionalism, no accountability, no watchdogs, etc. A whole lotta nothing, period. If you buy the PPV make sure to wear a gas mask!

  • JDL

    I love the 24/7 theme song too! Ha! I’m not a fan of Floyd’s “defensive/pitter-pat punches” style. While it definitely works for him (I take nothing away from him. He is a very talented fighter) it’s usually pretty boring to watch. Especially against an outclassed opponent. Now, that being said, I can’t see JMM winning the fight. I’m rootin’ for him because he’s an exciting fighter who’s finally getting a well deserved big pay day…but I just don’t see it. He’s a way smaller man in there with a defensive genius. A genius with ring rust…but a genius none-the-less. Here’s hoping it’s an (at least) exciting fight. Cheers!

  • martin

    Mayweather is definitely a skilled defensive fighter, but he does a lot more than “pitty pat.” He has very under-rated power and actually throws a greater percentage of power punches than most fighters. Most fights, he will disdain the use of his jab, and lead with hard rights and lead left hooks. Ask Hatton or Corrales if he “pitty pats.”
    He DOES fight off the back foot most of the time, which I suppose is what gives this impression that he is purely defensive.

  • JDL

    There are exceptions when he does throw with some bad intentions…however, he’s not known for being a one punch knock-out artist. At least not since he’s moved up in weight. Floyd has always had problems with brittle hands…and is always afraid of breaking them again (remember the Carlos Hernandez fight?), so most of the punches he throws especially in his last few fights, have been more to outpoint you and to wear you down, than to actually put a hurting on his opponent. Like I said, there are exceptions and he does throw power punches to hurt you, especially after he’s worn you down with his defensive style which includes many “pitty pat” punches. When he does lead with a power punch, it’s because he’s throwing them one at a time. He’ll throw it and usually immediately grab you. He’ll also stay in his defensive shell slipping punches and then throw a hard one down the middle or a well placed uppercut when he sees an opening. But when he throws combinations, they’re usually pitty pat punches designed more to outpoint & frustrate you.
    Hatton was knocked out after tiring himself out while chasing Floyd for most of the fight and being caught by expert counter punches…Unlike Pacquiao who knocked out Hatton in the 2 round, it took Mayweather 10 rounds of wearing him down until he finally let loose a left hook with some power and that was it…Hatton got back up, but just to get hit with a flurry of punches which included another left hook that sent him down again. Floyd’s definitely a great fighter…but like I said, I’m just not a big fan of his style.