My Next Victim: Juan Manuel Marquez Takes Aim at Morales, Gesta, Rios, & Alvarado


Juan Manuel Marquez has answered all the questions his vocation could pose to him. Now, like a university student who has completed his degree requirements with a few credits remaining, Marquez is in position to take only the electives that interest him. So which course will Marquez choose?

If Marquez is motivated by cultural currency and a sense of closure, he could pursue a fight with fellow Mexican Erik Morales. The only tussle between Mexico’s recent featherweight triumvirate that has yet to take place, Marquez–Morales provides Marquez with the occasion to establish his superiority among the trio, having already defeated Marco Antonio Barrera.

Flashes of guile and machismo notwithstanding, Morales is a greatly diminished fighter. It may reasonably be asked what a victory over the Tijuana fighter means for Marquez at this juncture. Marquez has retained his membership in the sport’s elite, while Morales is coming off of a loss to athletic yet unremarkable junior welterweight Danny Garcia. The careers of Marquez and Morales are on different trajectories. Morales would undoubtedly have his moments—to his credit he will not be denied them—but Marquez would be a prohibitive favorite should they meet.

Regardless of what the odds would likely imply, Marquez–Morales retains plenty of appeal. The traditional boxing ritual of the young scavenging the old is absent in Marquez–Morales, and there is something beautiful in that. Morales, for all his nastiness, has been benevolent to his fans. It would be refreshing to see him returned to retirement by the fists of a man who appreciates success and decline. But promotional acrimony between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions probably prevents this fight from happening, but its appeal is undeniable.

Promotional issues are irrelevant in the case of Brandon Rios, who, like Marquez, fights under the Top Rank banner. Indeed, Marquez–Rios was anticipated for July 14th at Texas Stadium, and the recent split-site pay-per-view served as a showcase to build the fight. Rios, however, has raised some concerns–both as a potential opponent for Marquez, and more importantly because of his lack of development.

He has become a bit of an unknown quantity, has Rios, and not in the appealing way produced by indeterminable potential. His failures at the scale are weighted almost as heavily as his recent ring performances, and those performances have become increasingly underwhelming. The regression in Rios’ form and fitness spells disaster against Marquez, who assembles scoring combinations like a Scrabble savant.

Rios has a passionate enough following that Marquez–Rios is an event in Texas, where fans attend fights. Rios’ persistent following means that, regression aside, he has promise as a draw. Top Rank boss Bob Arum may not want to subject Rios to defeat (especially since many thought Rios lost his last fight to sacrificial lamb Richard Abril). Marquez may want Rios, especially after the Abril fiasco; but Arum, with octogenarian eyes fixed on the future, could delay the younger fighter’s comeuppance. A win over Rios would be a laudable accomplishment, but the victory would come with an asterisk and probably be incorrectly assayed according to fan allegiance.

Mike Alvarado, undefeated in 33 fights, has used his last two performances to announce his presence in the junior welterweight division. A barrel-chested bruiser, Alvarado sprinkles enough sweetener into his game to pose a handful of serious questions to Marquez. The Colorado fighter is not only bigger than Marquez; he has also proven to be sturdy, sanguinary, and adaptable.

At the end of his bloody affair with Breidis Prescott, Alvarado looked as if he had kissed a weed-whacker. To his credit, he shrugged off his gruesome lacerations—sending a spray of blood flying—and broke Prescott in the final round. Against Mauricio Herrera two weeks ago, Alvarado let an even fight break out before dominating the second half. But Alvarado’s recent struggles may indicate a lack of pedigree—certainly Marquez would not labor against Prescott. But while his upper body boasts impressive musculature, Marquez’ legs have become increasingly unsteady in recent years. At 140lbs, the fighter to best Marquez need not be his fistic equal. It’s entirely possible that Alvarado’s ability to pressure and absorb could trump the exquisite marksmanship of the aging fighter. That Alvarado poses a greater threat to Marquez and is riding a crest of popularity may make this a more attractive matchup for Top Rank: an Alvarado victory would ensconce him in the sport’s collective consciousness. Marquez probably perceives the threat, but if he is motivated by a fourth Pacquiao fight, he may humor Arum in a gesture of symbiotic quid pro quo. While the Rios fight would garner Marquez more attention, a victory over Alvarado is a superior triumph.

If inferior remakes are more to your liking, Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta is also available. The advantage of a Gesta fight is that it perpetuates the storyline of Marquez fighting southpaws from the Philippines, but the fight is a remora attached to the belly of a bigger beast. Gesta probably poses the least threat of the quartet; Marquez leaves him in a heap.

Whatever his next move may be, Juan Manuel Marquez is in the enviable position of knowing that the outcome of his next fight can do very little to tarnish his legacy. But if he chooses the right opponent, the ring could bestow even more glory upon him.


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Tags: Brandon Rios Erik Morales Juan Manuel Marquez Manny Pacquiao Mercito Gesta Mike Alvarado

  • thenonpareil

    Hi JT,
    welcome to my nightmare.   Nice work here…I’m with you on Alvarez as opposed to Rios.  It may mean more at this point to beat a streaking Alvarado based on how weak Rios looked against Abril and, to a lesser extent, Murray.  What would really be great is if Rios and Alvarado fought each other!  I think they would leave the ring a bloodstained wreck.
    Morales should definitely retire, IMO, I don’t believe in nostalgia in boxing, and Morales has taken serious punishment in two of his last three fights. 
    Gesta seems like he really wants Marquez, but that’s child abuse.   Already he looks like a guy who’s bored in the ring half the time and he’s had, what, 20 fights?  However, I suppose Gesta would bring in more money via foreign rights by adding a third TV market and that’s something Bob Arum would be very interested in….

  • Andrew Fruman

    Hi Jimmy.  Good stuff and welcome aboard.
    Of those potential fights, I also find a match-up with Alvarado to be the most appealing.  I don’t think it will be all that competitive, but Alvarado deserves a nice pay day for his most recent efforts, and you know he’s going to bring it for as long as it lasts.
    I’m with Carlos in not wanting to see Marquez-Morales.  Morales really shouldn’t be fighting anymore, and given he has about a 1% chance of winning… why bother?  It’s a beating he doesn’t need to take, and of the opponents mentioned, I hope that’s not the match-up that gets made.

  • safesideOTR

    Nicely done JT, enjoyed that. I’m not sure a win over Morales would establish JMM’s superiority over the Mexican trio of greats, though. Barrera seemed hard done to in their battle, for me at least. Probably needs some perspective when Marquez hangs ‘em up in order to separate them (if it’s even possible).
    Not at all sure about his recent dalliance with “a conditioner” either. He went from a bloated and flabby looking lightweight trying to fight at a weight he doesn’t belong to a muscular Adonis-like junior welterweight (in the space of a few months).

  • jet79

    Thanks Harrison,
    I agree that the claim to superiority is dubious, especially since Marquez didn’t meet Barrera at his best, and Morales is pretty much finished at this point. It’s a knee-jerk assessment in many ways, but probably one people are inclined to make.
    Marquez’ upper body development is indeed curious. I can think of only a handful of ways to beef up like that, and Hulk Hogan’s recipe of working out, eating vitamins and saying prayers ain’t it. I’m hoping that his spindly legs are proof that he just got upper body obsessed and did two full cycles of a legal supplement.
    Gotta wonder about a guy who’s willing to drink his own urine though.

  • jet79

     @Andrew Fruman 
    Hi AF, thanks very much, I’m glad to be here.
    I want Marquez – Alvarado too. Rios belongs in the doghouse until there’s an improvement in his professionalism. He shouldn’t be rewarded, drubbing he’d take aside. At least Alvarado takes his job seriously. It would be nice to see a deserving opponent get his shot.
    The romantic in me wants Marquez – Morales if Morales chooses to continue, and for Marquez to carry him over the distance and place him softly in retirement. It won’t happen that way. But then, the fight probably won’t happen either.

  • jet79

    Help!! I can’t wake up!!
    Hi CA,
    I’m hoping Alvarado gets the nod. I could see the risk-reward ratio possibly deterring Marquez, but he’s proven to be a real fighter — the more hype Alvarado gets the more Marquez might want to rub our collective noses in it. He has a healthy streak of disdain, wouldn’t you say?
    Morales indeed should retire, for what it’s worth. But if he chooses to fight on, the Marquez fight is a bit of a palliative for my conscience. Better than Morales getting worked over by some upstart in my opinion.
    Wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Gesta gets the fight. I was thinking he would because he’s a soft touch, and Marquez could get an easy win while waiting for a bigger fight with the Pacquiao – Bradley winner. Hadn’t considered the financial benefits, which make Gesta the logical choice for everyone involved. Is Texas the place to stage that fight? Is there a large enough Filipino following in the state that would show up in support? Does it even matter?

  • Michael Nelson

    Hey JT
    Good work, and good to see you on TCS.  I had been wanting to see Marquez-Rios for a while, but as you pointed out, Rios’ recent regression has sapped any anticipation for that matchup.  I’m not all that crazy about seeing Morales fight again, so Alvarado would be the next best thing to a non-numbskull v. of Rios.  Not sure how competitive it’d be, but there’s guaranteed blood on both sides. 
    Regardless, if Marquez is involved, I’ll be watching.

  • jet79

     @Michael Nelson 
    Hi Michael, thanks for the kind words.
    If Marquez is going to pursue anyone of these guys, I’m hoping it’s Alvarado. I’d be okay with the Gesta fight if Rios and Alvarado clubbed each other to a pulp on the undercard and the winners and losers squared off after.
    But honestly, I don’t give any of these guys much of a shot. I remember our Twitter exchange about just how awesome an offensive fighter Marquez is. It’s textbook, but with a snarl. Whoever he fights, I’ll be watching right along with you.