Will 2015 Be Juan Manuel Marquez’ Final Year in Boxing?

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    downloadWell, reports hit the internet on my birthday, of all things, that Juan Manuel Marquez will return in 2015. In an article by Lem Satterfield it was reported that Marquez was hoping to be a five division champion and capture his fifth world title in the welterweight division. I ask the educated reader of this column two very valid questions 1) do we still want to see Marquez at age 41 compete and 2) Is he even that into the idea?

    We have all heard adages that money makes fighting less desirable and let me just pen this column more as an editorial that I am writing on Christmas Eve while waiting for my family to arrive at my house. In May, Marquez returned to action against Mike Alvarado in a enjoyable fight at a venue that held many fond memories for him, The LA Forum. Marquez, who was introduced to network audiences on Tuesday Night Fights on the USA network, found himself as the b-side for the majority of his career while carrying his country, Mexico, on his back. The Forum was the leading venue for the Tuesday Night Fights series.

    In short, in Marquez’ last fight it felt like the tone of a retirement party atmosphere in the spaceship like venue that is The Forum. In fact, I drove six and half hours down to LA from my condo in suburbia for the sole reason that I believed this was the last fight in Marquez’s career and you know the way his 2014 played out, I feel more optimistic about this statement.

    Marquez right now is lobbying for a Kell Brook fight after Brook beat Shawn Porter for the IBF welterweight title. Brook, who got stabbed in the leg in a story that is sketchy at best and that leads most to think that Brook will look to defend once in the Untied Kingdom and set up for a 3rd to 4th quarter pairing with himself and Amir Khan. On top of that, Marquez is not really a proven draw in Europe and one might wonder what his drawing power would be in a market that creates larger than life shows more so than competitive fights? No shots at our European readers as the States currently is doing neither larger than life fights or competitive bouts.

    It seems pretty safe to say Marquez versus Manny Pacquiao won’t happen barring something bizarre, because it cements his legacy as well as places a footnote on their feud. Prior to walking out for the Alvarado fight, the last image that played on the large screens across the arena was the Pacquiao knockout. Marquez is finically secure and it seems for him, he wants the knockout to be last image of the fights with Pacquiao ruling that out a fifth fight for the inevitability that Floyd Mayweather versus Pacquiao will probably fall out.

    So where do you go if you’re Marquez, who over the past decade has put his stamp on a hall of fame career? I guess he could fight Timothy Bradley again, but Bradley’s stock has never been lower and avenging that loss to Bradley seems sort of an odd decision at the tail end of your career since you never know what type of fight might manifest and beyond that at this point every fight could be your last. Would that fight even make back the money it costs to budget it out? Would people really want to see it, let alone on pay-per-view?

    Then we also have the other enduring saga of Marquez’ final act as we saw his body transform during the camp of the third Pacquiao fight. On top of that, Marquez’ new body came with questionable at best testing methods. At the same time, Marquez is not the only fighter to every have a crazy body transformation, but it felt sort of apparent something was going on under our noses, sort of like how Al Haymon mocks the average boxing fan by putting on charades of fights at times for the upmost profit. The fact that Marquez then would threaten people with lawsuits if they even mentioned this, well sort of made people think that there was more to this.

    Marquez is the type of fighter who always gets forgotten in the realms of history. A great, technical boxer who is willing to engage and trade, looking to slip in a power shot that could end your night. These fighters tend to slip through the cracks, but Marquez has seemingly for better or worse stayed relevant throughout the years. If you look at his peers from the early half of the 2000s of Antonio Marco Barrera and Erik Morales, it is somewhat surprising that Marquez is the last man left on Hamburger Hill. Marquez is the man we remember just as much for being dropped by Mike Alvarado and Michael Katsidis as we do for his moment of brilliance against Pacquiao or his ability to throw fluid combination punches.

    That’s why I keep using the writer’s technique of saying something over and over again, but really at this point when you start playing pseudo matchmaker it really becomes difficult to see who he could fight. I would never rule out a farewell fight in a place like Mexico City, but I still can’t get over the fact that guy is 41 years old and been through a lot of wars. As I sat on press row, the one big takeaways was how beloved he is by his fans and that for him to transition into commentating would seem to be a natural fit. Let alone if he was to just fadeaway and enjoy the rest of his life, who would blame him as he gave an honest days work for a very long time for fight fans.

    A pressing memory I have and can’t shake was looking at Marquez, who largely dominated the contest against Alvarado, looking beat up in the backstage area. In a bout where he was dropped, but controlled at least eight to nine rounds of action, he looked like he had been in dead even fight by the looks of his face. Marquez took a heavy sigh as he walked into a Top Rank employee only area where he would conduct a brief interview before leaving. It just felt all too similar to the walk I took that year when I left my job of four years for other endeavors. It felt like the walk of someone who is burnt out and no longer fully there.

    Now I know what some might think the time away from the sport might draw him back, but the longer Marquez is gone, the more I think this might be it. Wouldn’t it be a fitting end for one of the greats who had such an odd, storied career to just vanish with little fanfare or publicity, always believing there was another fight that could happen, but it would never manifest. Marquez either way is one of technical wizards of boxing, a man who seemingly landed 50% of power shots against all of his foes not named Pacquiao for example his 57% power punches that he landed against Alvarado. It seems like everything is up in the air for Marquez and isn’t that the way it should be at the end of a career for a fighter who never planned his course action but rather achieved.