The evolution of Juan Manuel Marquez
By Dirv de Venecia
Published: Nov/06/2012 4:03 PM PHT
A six-time world Champion in 4 different divisions, a Pound-for-Pound Great and has built a reputation as a methodical buzz saw.
Juan Manuel “El Dinamita” Marquez (54-6-1 with 39 knockouts) could very well be the greatest Mexican boxer of this generation. With peers such as Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, he was overlooked very early in his career due to his more safety first approach.
Coming Out of Obscurity
He faced a spitfire in the form of Manny Pacquiao in May 9, 2004. He was knocked down thrice in the opening stanza leading to the pundits and the crowd to assume he will be done in the second.
But the unthinkable happened, Marquez stormed back and dominated the Filipino hot shot with his vaunted counters and by adjusting his defense. The fight would later be called a draw with Marquez retaining his titles.
It was the perfect storm that catapulted an unheralded champion who was used to fighting in small casinos into the grand stage.
He went on to defend his title twice and subsequently drop his WBA Featherweight strap to Indonesian Chris John which halted every momentum El Dinamita had.
Marquez bounced back by winning the WBO Interim title by beating Thai boxer Tersak Kokietgym, a title which he would go on to defend once and then move up in weight.
Mexico’s New Face of Boxing
His next opponent was known as the face of Mexican Boxing, a man who was considered at that time the best Mexican boxer of our generation and that man is simply known as the Baby Faced Assassin.
Marquez was on the brink of regaining lost momentum and capturing another world title but standing in his way was a contemporary of his, WBC 130 lbs. champion Marco Antonio Barrera.
In what was expected to be a close tactical fight, a more aggressive Marquez blew Barrera out of the water en route to winning the WBC Jr. Lightweight crown via a wide decision.
After winning the crown, Marquez defended it once and now has started to call out the man who 1 gave him recognition: Manny Pacquiao.
On March 16 of 2008, Marquez once again fought Pacquiao and after securing 2 rounds under his belt, he was decked by the Filipino dynamo in the 3 round a moment that gave Pacquiao momentum.
He got back up, but his opponent became more confident even if Marquez was more aggressive with his counter punching. That knock down ultimately became the deciding factor for the judges to give the split verdict to Pacquiao.
A More Explosive Dynamite
Frustrated by the loss, Marquez moved up in weight to battle Joel Casamayor for the Ring Lineal Lightweight title. Pundits called the fight as one fighter looking into the mirror and seeing his own reflection, it was predicted as a contest of who can counter better.
Marquez made it the perfect venue to present a more aggressive, first to the punch game which surprised everyone watching the fight. Early on, this tactic was neutralized by the Cuban, but once Marquez found his range he never looked back.
He finished off Casamayor in the 11 and captured the aforementioned Ring Lightweight title.
Marquez elected to go up in weight and face the aggressive Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz. El Dinamita went to establish his new identity as a more in your face boxer when he chose to trade punches with Diaz.
His game plan was questioned early on when Diaz dominated and battered Marquez but the latter was known for his recuperative ability which he went on to show by knocking out Diaz in the 9 in what was hailed by ESPN as it’s Fight of the Year for 2009.
Marquez expressed his desire to once again go up in weight and challenge former pound for pound king, undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr.
That desire went into fruition when they faced one another on September 20, 2009 in a catch weight fight where Mayweather weighed heavier than the agreed 142 lbs. weight limit.
Marquez got decked in the 2 round ultimately losing the fight via a wide margin in the score cards.
The loss made Marquez re-evaluate his style and came up with a hybrid of counter punching and aggressive boxing which he presented to the world when he fought Juan Diaz (rematch), Michael Katsidis and Likar Ramos.
November 13 of last year he squared off again with his arch nemesis, then pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao. During the fight, Marquez preferred to fight via his more well known counter punching primarily to prevent Pacquiao from hurting him and knocking him down again.
The game plan was successful but it didn’t lead him to victory, dropping a Majority decision to Pacquiao.
Questions heading into the 4 Fight
Certainly over the year, Marquez has shown how flexible he is with his style through the different game plans he and his camp executed in his fights.
From a counter punching heavy game to a more aggressive combination punching style he definitely can adjust to a certain opponent.
No doubt the man can explode with a counter hook or uppercut anytime, he fits his moniker well but every boxer has a weakness.
For Marquez it is his lack of adjusting styles during a fight. Something Pacquiao and Freddie Roach are known to be good at.
On December 9 of this year, he will face Pacquiao for the 4 time and he (Marquez) has stated that a victory over the Filipino legend can finally rest the ghosts of his past and he can retire by that time.
So now a few questions addressed to Marquez coming into the fight:
Yes you evolved and fought with different styles for facing specific opponents, but now can you adjust on the fly and negate every change in Pacquiao’s tactics during the fight?
And can you finally overcome the fear of getting decked and go for the kill?
On December 9, a lot of questions will or can be answered by El Dinamita himself but for the time being, the entire world will be waiting for answers.
Dirv de Venecia