Mayweather, Pacquiao or Hatton for Marquez
Juan Manuel Marquez wants ‘only the best’; Juarez vs. John—Rematch imminent
Story and photos by Chris Cozzone / Fightwireimages.com
Having solidified his claim at lightweight—if not pound-for-pound—supremacy last night at the Toyota Center in Houston, Tex., Juan Manuel Marquez, after knocking out Juan Diaz, says he wants to fight “only the best.”
The “best,” as Marquez sees it, means Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, with Ricky Hatton a third choice, pending the outcome of his showdown against Pacquiao on May 2.
“I’ve never ducked anybody,” proclaimed Marquez, taking a dig at his Filipino nemesis. “I’ve been trying to get a third fight with Manny Pacquiao but he does not want to fight me.”
Marquez has a 2004 draw with Pacquiao and a split-decision loss in 2008.
“I feel I’ve beaten him twice, but it’s the fight the fans want. In the last fight, he got an early Christmas present.
“But if Pacquiao won’t fight me, I would be very happy to fight Floyd Mayweather. I only want to fight the best.”
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who called Marquez “the best Mexican fighter of our era,” said if Mayweather was willing to come out of retirement, the two could meet at catchweights—closer to 140 than welter.
Marquez says a third name can be thrown into the hat—Hatton, of course—should the Manchester “Hitman” pull off the upset against Pacquiao.
When asked if a next opponent could be found on the April 4 four-bout lightweight blockbuster card held in Austin, Tex., headlining Edwin Valero vs. Antonio Pitalua and Joel Casamayor vs. Julio Diaz, Marquez shook his head.
“I want bigger and better things.”
Moving up in weight following a longtime reign as a—or the—featherweight champion, Marquez added the WBO and WBA 135-pound belts to his linear championship win scored last year when he kayoed Joel Casamayor. The IBO and Ring Magazine straps were also at stake.
The new lightweight king also racked up his win record to an even 50 (50-4-1, 37 KOs, becoming the first fighter to knock out former unified lightweight champion Juan Diaz (34-2, 17 KOs).
Though losing by kayo, Diaz and Marquez had even honors on the scorecards going into the fatal ninth round. Max De Luca had it 77-75 for Marquez; Duane Ford had it flipped, for Diaz; and Levi Martinez had it 76-76.
“I knew Diaz was going to be a tough fight,” Marquez admitted. “But I trained very hard for this fight. I was ready to leave my heart and soul in the ring.”
Marquez said he had more grueling fights, but would not scoff at the early rounds weathered against the ceaseless charges of Houston’s “Baby Bull.”
“I was hurt once,” he admitted, “but around the fourth or fifth, the fight started to change. I caught him with clean punches and was able to knock him out.
“But it was a very difficult task.”
Obviously disappointed, Diaz had no excuses, no alibis, for his loss.
“I didn’t come out on top but I’m still young, only 25,” said Diaz.
“It was a magnificent crowd, but it wasn’t as successful as we expected for the Houston boys. Rocky got a draw, which is great, and I got a loss . . . which is not good at all.
“But I thank him Juan Manuel Marquez. I always dreamed of being in a war with him. I’m a fighter and I love to fight. He gave me the opportunity to give the people a great show.
“I’d dreamed of being the winner and it didn’t happen like that—not this time.”
Rematch looms for John, Juarez
Showing nearly as much action as the main event and marking the “Supremacy” card as the best doubleheader televised in years, the draw resulting in the Chris John-Rocky Juarez WBA featherweight title has a rematch already on the table.
“HBO would love a rematch,” said promoter De La Hoya.
It was John’s 11th title defense and first fight on U.S. soil.
“I showed my best performance tonight,” said John (42-0-2, 22 KOs), who holds, both, a win and a draw with Marquez, albeit controversially.
“Rocky is a great fighter, but I did enough to win.”
John said he’d been battling the flu shortly before the fight, but would be ready for a rematch, if the camps work out a suitable arrangement.
“I kept to my plan to box from the start,” said the long-reigning Indonesian champion. “It wasn’t good when the fight came close—I tried to keep moving, but sometimes I forgot.”
John said a turning point in the fight was a big right hand that opened up a cut over Juarez’s eye.
“I continued to use my right, and threw with more confidence after that,” said John.
For Houston’s Juarez (28-4-1, 20 KOs), it was a fifth attempt at a world title, after coming up short on four previous occasions.
“We’re getting closer,” said Juarez, in good spirits after the fight.
“There’s a reason he’s undefeated, but I felt I won the fight. In the middle rounds, I might’ve given up two or three rounds, but thought I won the early and late rounds. I thought I closed the show.
“But it was, you know, a draw, and not a loss on my record. It was a great fight.”
All three judges scored the bout 114-114.
“Hopefully, we’ll get the opportunity for a rematch—as long as it’s here in the U.S.”
With a win and title, Juarez had been hoping to entice either Israel Vazquez or Rafael Marquez.
Now, with a rematch likely, Juarez says he’ll do one thing differently next time around: