Marquez Aims to Make it Five

by Kieran Mulvaney


For much of his earlier career, Juan Manuel Marquez was the Cinderella of Mexican boxing, toiling in the shadows while Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales engaged in an all-time-great trilogy of battles and electrified their fan bases. Marquez was the cerebral counterpuncher who garnered fans' intellectual appreciation; Morales and Barrera were warriors who set those same fans' pulses racing.

Over the last five or six years, however – beginning perhaps with Marquez's victory over Barrera in 2007, and augmented certainly by his epic four-fight-and-counting rivalry with Manny Pacquiao – Marquez has emerged from his contemporaries' shadows. And on Saturday night, he has the chance to leave them in the dust.

Victory over welterweight belt-holder Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas would give Marquez a world title in five weight classes over the course of his career – more than Morales, who won four, and more than Barrera and even the great Julio Cesar Chavez, who secured three apiece. Here's a look at his reigns in four previous weight classes:

 

Featherweight (126 Pounds): February 1, 2003 – March 4, 2006

Marquez fell short in his first world title challenge, dropping an ugly decision to Freddie Norwood in 1999, but four years later he finally achieved success with a win over veteran and fellow Mexican Manuel Medina. Two successful defenses led to a clash with Filipino buzz-saw Manny Pacquiao in 2004; as everyone now knows, Marquez rallied from three first-round knockdowns to secure a draw and kick-start a rivalry for the ages. Unhappy with the financial incentives for a Pacquiao rematch, Marquez made two more defenses before dropping a decision in Indonesia to hometown fighter Chris John.

 

Super Featherweight (130 Pounds): March 17, 2007 – March 15, 2008

Aided somewhat by a blown call – in which a Barrera knockdown of Marquez was not only ruled a slip but Barrera was docked a point for punching Marquez when he was down – Marquez secured a decision victory over his celebrated compatriot to win a title in his second weight division. He made one defense before losing a close and controversial decision to – who else? – Pacquiao.

 

 

Lightweight (135 Pounds): February 28, 2009 – January 6, 2012

By now, although still a skilled counterpuncher, Marquez was engaging in far more entertaining fights than had once been the case, and his lightweight title reign exemplified that perhaps more than any other time in his career. His title-winning clash against Juan Diaz was a thriller, as was the last of his three title bouts at the weight, in which he bounced back from a third-round knockdown to stop Michael Katsidis. He was stripped of the title when he moved up in weight.

 

Super Lightweight (140 Pounds): June 9, 2012 – present

Marquez added a title in a fourth weight division after he outpointed Ukraine's Serhiy Fedchenko in Mexico City on April 14. The bout itself was for an 'interim' title, which the relevant sanctioning body upgraded to a 'regular' title two months later.

The nature of its acquisition highlighted the fact that the most recent title reign of the Mexican's career has been the least remarkable; it is likely also to prove the only one he does not attempt to defend. Marquez has his sights now fixed firmly on welterweight, and after losing his first two outings at the higher weight – to Floyd Mayweather and, of course, his nemesis Pacquiao – he most recently scored perhaps the most satisfying win of his professional life when he left Pacquiao unconscious and face-first on the canvas last December.

That victory did not yield another title belt, because Pacquiao had been relieved of his welterweight strap six months previously by Timothy Bradley. That was a decision with which virtually nobody except two of the three ringside judges agreed, but Marquez will not care one bit about such bygone controversy if he takes care of business on Saturday, relieves Bradley of his crown, and cements his place in history.

Garcia’s Energy Overtakes Morales

Kieran Mulvaney

Danny Garcia, Erik Morales - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Once, Erik Morales possessed a combination of skill, power and fighting spirit that enabled him to break down and defeat one opponent after another. Now, at age 35 and after 60 professional fights, that combination is no longer enough for him to defeat the one opponent who ultimately prevails over all fighters.

Morales deployed experience and guile against Danny Garcia in Houston on Saturday night, and in doing so was able to keep the fight close against a younger, faster opponent. But he was fighting Father Time as well as Garcia, and the tandem proved too much, as Morales fell to 52-8 and the undefeated Garcia lifted the WBC super lightweight title.

>Read More at HBO.com

Fans Weigh In: Fans Picks Morales, But @DannySwift Has Other Ideas

Erik Morales, Danny Garcia - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Generally speaking, boxing fans and Vegas have a similar idea of who's going to win a fight. Most of the times we ask for fight predictions they match up pretty closely with the official odds—but not this week. Erik Morales, despite officially being a slight underdog to Danny Garcia, is the overwhelming favorite in your hearts, securing 85% of the 1246 votes cast on our Facebook page. The 24-year-old Garcia took only 187 total votes. This might have to do with the legions of Mexican fans that Morales has thrilled throughout his Hall-of-Fame career, or maybe it's because of Morales's performance in his hard-fought battle against Marcos Maidana. One person who doesn't see things that way is Twitter user @DannySwift aka Danny Garcia. Garcia, who is extremely active on the social network, called out Morales for his inability—or unwillingness, as the case may be—to make weight, writing: "Papa morales came in 2lbs over weight, disrespect to the sport, that puts a extra 50k in my pocket!"

In the undercard bout, fans have flocked to the resurgent James Kirkland, picking him over Carlos Molina by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.

Here's more of what you had to say:

  • I think Morales knocks out Garcia and Kirkland goes the distance with Molina and wins the decision - @eve505 (Twitter)
  • If I were Danny Garcia, I have to be at my best not only physically, but also mentally. It will be a fatal mistake to look past Erik. Its easy to think that Morales will employ his boxing knowledge against a younger foe. But once the crowd gets involved into the fight, El Terrible will have no other choice but to oblige. All hell will break loose, and it will be the most thrilling part of the match. I actually like Erik's chances in catching Danny with his right maybe to the temple or to the jaw. – E.Corales (HBO.com)
  • Morales by UD; Kirkland by KO round 10 - @potlurisuneel (Twitter)
  • Don't believe the hype about Morales being back. So he held up against a one dimensional Marcos, doesn't mean he's back. Have Garcia winning. On the undercard can't say i've ever watched Molina fight, but have seen enough Kirkland fights to know his potential. Kirkland by KO – V. Varricchio (HBO.com)
  • Predictions for Saturday's @HBOboxing fights: @DannySwift Garcia TKO8 Erik Morales. Garcia too young and too hungry. #MoralesGarcia - @myuros (Twitter)
  • Kirkland has one of the weakest chins in the division - @locmyster (Twitter)
  • I think Garcia may squeek out a very close SD. I give Kirkland the edge, but definately wont sleep on Molina –  Riky Ricardo (HBO.com)
  • Garcia doesn't have many technical flaws for Morales to exploit. Add youth & stamina, too much for Morales to overcome. Garcia UD - @alexp4p (Twitter)

Garcia Hopes to Leave No Room for Doubt

By Eric Raskin

Danny Garcia - Photo Credit: Will HartThey say everything’s bigger in Texas. And that includes the size of the controversy when puzzling scorecards are handed in.

The Lone Star State has developed an unsavory reputation of late when it comes to the scoring of fights. The two most prominent recent examples are Tavoris Cloud’s unfathomable decision over Gabriel Campillo in Corpus Christi last month and Juan Diaz’s outrageously scored nod over Paulie Malignaggi in Houston in 2009. At this point, nothing any ring announcer can say at the end of a fight in Texas should surprise any fight fan.

Danny Garcia is no stranger to head-scratching scorecards, as he heard one announced at the conclusion of his most recent fight, a (seemingly) one-sided win over Kendall Holt in Los Angeles. Fortunately, Garcia got the victory, but it was a split decision in a fight that wasn’t even close.

“I was like, man, how can two judges give me nine rounds out of 12, and this judge gives him seven?” Garcia recalled. “I guess that judge was just watching [Holt] and not me. Maybe he had a better outfit on than me or something!

“That fight served as a reminder to me that you have to try to knock guys out. It happened a lot to me in the amateurs, I thought I won, but I left it in the judges’ hands and I lost. So my mindset when I turned pro was to knock guys out. But as I moved up in competition, guys started blocking shots, guys started taking better shots, so my main focus was just to box. Now I need to get back to scoring knockouts. I have to tell myself, ‘I’m not letting nobody take this from me.’”

On Saturday night in Houston, scoring a knockout won’t be easy, since Garcia’s foe, Erik Morales, has only been KO’d by one opponent in 59 pro fights, and that opponent was Manny Pacquiao. Also, as a beloved Mexican veteran, “El Terrible” is almost certain to be the crowd favorite. And we know how crowd reactions can influence even judges who have the best of intentions.

Garcia has a massive challenge in front of him in the form of a resurgent future Hall of Famer. And he may have an even bigger challenge than that awaiting him if the fight goes the full 12.

Veteran Morales Aims to Teach Young Garcia a Lesson

By Kieran Mulvaney

When Danny Garcia fought his first professional fight, Erik Morales had already retired. He'd had a hugely successful career that included winning world titles in three weight divisions, as well as the adoration of Mexican fight fans and the admiration of followers of the sweet science everywhere.

But Morales, who hung up his gloves in 2007 after five defeats in his last six bouts, couldn’t stay out of action for long. He returned to the ring in 2010, and on Saturday night, he faces Garcia in a junior welterweight title fight. He will be looking to draw on the experience of 59 pro fights to beat back the young man’s challenge.

Among the pick of the crop his lengthy career:

KO11 Daniel Zaragoza, September 6 1997

In his first world title fight, Morales showed the strengths and weaknesses that marked his early career and made him such a popular fighter. The 21-year-old took more punches than he needed to against the game veteran, and his footwork could have done with some refinement, but over the second half the fight, uppercuts and punishing body shots dropped Zaragoza and sent him into retirement.

 

W12 Marco Antonio Barrera, February 19 2000

Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera - Photo Credit: Will HartThe first fight of Morales’ epic trilogy against Barrera was probably the best, and highlighted both Mexicans’ willingness to stand and trade blows. In an epic see-saw slugfest, Morales survived a knockdown (which he argued was a slip) to eke out a close win.

 

 

 

 

W12 Manny Pacquiao, March 19 2005

Erik Morales vs. Manny Pacquiao - Photo Credit: Will HartAs Morales aged, he focused less on face-first brawling and more on technique. He used that technique to overcome a still relatively-raw Pacquiao, frustrating the Filipino by jabbing and moving away from the southpaw’s big left hand. It was Pacquiao’s last defeat, and the last win of Morales’ pre-retirement career.

 

 

 

L12 Marcos Maidana, April 9 2011

Erik Morales vs. Marcos Maidana - Photo Credit: Will HartThe transition from young fighter to veteran boxer was in full effect against the hard-hitting Argentinian. Maidana’s fists caused the Mexican’s right eye to grotesquely swell early on, but Morales showed guile, subtle defense and superior technique to outbox the younger man for much of the fight.

 

 



Garcia’s hands are much less heavy than Maidana’s, but he is more skilled than the Argentinian. The question is, can he be as skilled as Morales? Will youth be victorious or will experience prevail?

Erik Morales Poses a Forbidding Challenge for Young Danny Garcia

By Hamilton Nolan

Erik Morales vs. Danny Garcia - Photo Credits: Will Hart, GoldenboyErik “El Terrible” Morales is timeless. Seems that way, at least. Though he’s not the oldest prize fighter in boxing – at 35, he’s the same age as Floyd Mayweather, and three years younger than Juan Manuel Marquez – Morales’ permanent look of grim resolve and unbreakable chin give him the air of a grand old man, one who ceased to be surprised a long time ago. But in boxing, the old men always break sooner or later. And the young men are the ones that do the breaking.

Danny Garcia is a young man, a fighter on the cusp. At 23 years old, he’s got more than 100 amateur fights to his name, and he’s already been a pro for more than four years. He is the most dangerous sort of young boxer: the polished sort. After running his record to 20-0 against relatively light competition, Garcia dominated the declining but savvy veteran Nate Campbell last year and then followed that up with a split decision win against the knifelike puncher Kendall Holt last fall.

Garcia himself is a calm boxer-puncher with a high guard and above average power, especially in his right. He covers up and patiently waits for the chance to kill. He is fully capable of hurting his opponents. And he’s earned his ticket to prime time. For Danny Garcia, a win over a legend like Erik Morales would mean everything – it would pay his admission to boxing’s upper echelon and open the door to a long and lucrative career. That’s enough to make any fighter hungry

Read More at HBO.com

CompuBox Analysis: Erik Morales vs. Danny Garcia

By CompuBox

The past quarter-century has witnessed a handful of improbable comebacks. Sugar Ray Leonard's shocker over Marvelous Marvin Hagler was one. George Foreman's campaign that eventually led to a heavyweight title 21 years after winning his first was another. And no one could've ever guessed that Vitali Klitschko would return from a four-year retirement to regain a belt in his first fight back, much less run off eight defenses -- and counting.

On Saturday, another one of today's best comeback stories will create another chapter when Erik Morales defends his WBC super lightweight belt against undefeated Danny "Swift" Garcia. Will the old man produce another inspirational performance or will Father Time channel himself through a 23-year-old Philadelphian? Their respective CompuBox pasts yielded these results:

> Read more CompuBox analysis of Erik Morales vs. Danny Garcia on HBO.com

HBO Boxing Schedule Packed with Action Through June

By Kieran Mulvaney

HBO’s boxing lineup for 2012 is picking up steam, with a host of big fights scheduled for the next several months. Take a look at what’s on the cards and let us know which fights you’re looking forward to the most, and why. 

Erik Morales vs Danny Garcia

March 24 in Houston

Erik Morales vs Danny Garcia - Photo Credits: Will HartAfter multiple world titles and 54 professional fights, Morales called it quits in 2007, only to return in 2010 and show he can still compete at a high level. But the undefeated Garcia, who was 5 years old when Morales turned pro, is a rising star. Is this one final step too far for the veteran?

 

 

 

 

Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson

April 28 in Atlantic City

Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson - Photo Credit: Will HartCan 47-year-old Hopkins reach into his bag of tricks one more time and turn back the challenge of Dawson? Their first encounter, last year, was ruled a no-contest after Hopkins injured his shoulder in the second round; fans will be hoping for a longer and more definitive battle this time.

 

 

 

 

Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto

May 5 in Las Vegas

Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto - Photo Credit: Hogan PhotosCotto looked as good as he has in years while securing revenge over Antonio Margarito last year, but Mayweather is an altogether different challenge. Following his 2007 victory over Oscar De La Hoya, this will be ‘Money’ Mayweather’s second assault on a 154-pound crown.

 

 

 

 

Lamont Peterson vs Amir Khan

May 19 in Las Vegas

Lamont Peterson vs Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Will HartPeterson took Khan’s junior lightweight belt late last year in an exciting fight that was overshadowed by controversy surrounding point deductions and a mysterious ringside ‘man in a hat.’ Khan looks to gain his revenge, while Peterson aims to prove his win in the first fight was no fluke.

 

 

 

 

Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley

June 9 in Las Vegas

Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley - Photo Credit: Hogan PhotosFormer 140-pound kingpin Bradley gets the superfight he’s been waiting for, against the Fighting Congressman from the Philippines. Will Pacman gobble up this latest challenge or will Bradley pull of the upset and emerge as a star?

 

 

 

 

 

So what do you think? How do you see these fights going, and which have you the most excited? Leave a comment on the HBO Boxing Facebook page or tweet us at @HBOBoxing, and we may feature your answers in a future post right here on InsideHBOBoxing.

Three Witnesses to Marcos Maidana’s Punching Power

By Kieran Mulvaney

Marcos Maidana vs Erik Morales - Photo Credit: Will HartMarcos Maidana does not, at first sight, appear to match his reputation. A boxer’s muscles are generally lean rather than bulky, built for speed and reflexes rather than weight-lifting strength, but even by the standards of his weight division, Maidana seems slight. He is not obviously a man possessed of frightening punching power. But if Devon Alexander, who faces Maidana in the year’s first Boxing After Dark broadcast on February 25, needs any convincing of just how real that punching power in fact is, we offer three fighters who experienced it firsthand:

Marcos Maidana vs Victor Ortiz - Photo Credit: Will HartVictor Ortiz. When Ortiz stepped into the ring with Maidana in June 2009, he was the rising star who had been bowling over one foe after another. The little-known Maidana was expected to be another notch in the belt as Ortiz continued his path to glory, and when the Argentine went down in the first round after an Ortiz assault, the script seemed to be unfolding as planned. But then Ortiz, overeager, ran headlong into a Maidana right hand that flattened him. He recovered, and knocked his opponent down twice more in the second. But Maidana would not be denied, constantly powering forward and landing brutal blows that took the fight out of the young American, knocking him down and causing him to retreat from battle in the eighth round.

Marcos Maidana vs Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Will HartAmir Khan. Unlike Ortiz, the Briton emerged victorious from his encounter with Maidana, but like Ortiz, he doubtless expected on the basis of a first-round knockdown that his night would be easier than it turned out. That knockdown, which came at the end of the opening frame of their December 2010 clash, was the result of a Khan body shot that had Maidana grimacing in pain. Once again, however, Maidana proved resilient and relentless. He hauled Khan in down the stretch – including a furious tenth-round assault that all but sent his head flying into the crowd – only to fall agonizingly short on the scorecards.

Marcos Maidana vs Erik Morales - Photo Credit: Will HartErik Morales. The veteran exposed the weaknesses in Maidana’s style, showing just enough defensive movement to blunt his opponent’s occasionally crude assault, and enough offensive variety to pierce his guard. But even the wiles Morales had acquired over almost two decades of professional pugilism were not enough to prevent Maidana from inflicting an injury so grotesque, a right eye so horrendously swollen, that outside of a boxing ring it would have been photographed as evidence that a violent assailant was at large.

Alexander, who possesses the kind of boxing skills that could leave Maidana swinging and missing, is confident. “I've got my legs strong and fast, and I'm ready to rock and roll,” he says. But many a thoroughbred has become bogged down in the rough terrain that is a Maidana fight. Will Alexander prove the exception?

On Cotto, Margarito and Private Hate in Public Arenas

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credits: Hoganphotos.com, Will HartOn most occasions, a professional prizefight is not a resolution to a personal dispute; the confrontation is professional, fueled not by hatred but the desire for greatness, titles and money.

Chris Byrd, the former heavyweight belt-holder, once expressed to me that his approach to boxing was that, on one level, it was little different from tennis. When they were on court, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi wanted only to annihilate each other, he explained. But once the match was over, there was no reason for them not to be friends. Similarly, he offered, boxing was not violence but sport, albeit with gloved fists rather than racket and ball.

Occasionally, however, the personal intrudes on the professional, and when it does, it only whets our appetites even more. Emile Griffith may have entered the ring in 1962 consumed with rage over an epithet directed at him by Benny ‘Kid’ Paret, a rage that would ultimately have tragic consequences. More recently, the epic three-fight series between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera was fueled by genuine mutual hatred, and Fernando Vargas never even attempted to disguise his loathing of Oscar De La Hoya.

All of those, however, pale in comparison to the antipathy between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.

There are those who question whether this Saturday’s contest should be taking place, whether Margarito should ever have been allowed back into the ring after the discovery of tampered wraps on his hands prior to his January 2009 bout with Shane Mosley; and whether, even if accepting that he has served a sentence of sorts for that most despised of boxing sins, he should be licensed to fight after surgery to his eye and orbital bone following the brutal pounding he suffered last year at the fists of Manny Pacquiao.

Were anyone entitled to object on the first count, it would be Cotto, who is now convinced that his brutal 2008 stoppage loss to Margarito was the result of the Mexican carrying plaster in his gloves. For more than two years, the man from Caguas seemed firm in his stance that he would do nothing – given his growing belief that he had been grievously wronged and as a consequence nearly severely harmed by Margarito’s actions that night – to help his foe earn another cent in the ring. But that conviction has wavered in the face of a $5 million payday and an apparent sense that the damage to Margarito’s eye (which required removal of a cataract and insertion of an artificial lens, and that gave the New York State Athletic commission pause before relenting and agreeing to sanction the fight) gives him a golden opportunity at redemption and revenge.

“My dog is more of a person than him,” he says calmly. “I don’t feel any respect for him. I’m going to take advantage of his eye, like he took advantage of the plaster.”

“F*** Cotto,” spits Margarito in return. “If he thinks I had plaster, it will hurt like I was using a plaster.”
In the real world, it’s the kind of talk that prompts adults to seek a way to calm things down before somebody gets hurt. But this is boxing, and it’s too late for that. Hurt – perhaps serious hurt – is a given. And because this is boxing, on Saturday night, in front of a packed crowd in New York and an eager audience around the world, two men will fight a very personal and very real battle on a very public stage.