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Do We Plead for a Fifth?

(Photo © K9 Photos)
(Photo © K9 Photos)

By Steve Kim


It was a successful Forum homecoming for future Hall-of-Famer Juan Manuel Marquez as he defeated the rugged Mike Alvarado in front of 12,090 mostly Mexican partisans who cheered his every move. He’s come a long way from being third banana to the likes of countrymen Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera and being branded as just a safe, cautious counterpuncher. Alvarado was game but simply outgunned by the master from Mexico City, who was simply a bit quicker off the draw and more accurate.
 
“I said it was going to be a tough fight and I said it was going to be a difficult fight. I wanted to give the public here a gift, a gift that dignifies the history of this event and the history of the Forum,” said Marquez as he improved his mark to 56-7-1 (40) while having to actually come off the canvas in the ninth round after flooring Alvarado in the previous frame. Whenever Alvarado rallied, Marquez always had just a bit more in response. He was quick with his combinations, landed digging left hooks to the body and a laser-like right hand in the eighth nearly sent “Mile High” skidding out of the ring.

“We wanted to make this fight a gift to the fans,” said Marquez, who has long ago shed the label of being a “boring” boxer. Alvarado is a good, solid fighter but Marquez is a class above. “Yes, I did expect this fight. I always said that Mike Alvarado is a strong man and fast and worthy and strong and I did expect this fight.”
 
And age is just a number for Marquez.
 
“Like I have said before, age doesn’t matter,” said the 40-year-old.
 
The victory brought about immediate questions about a fifth chapter with his archrival Manny Pacquiao. In the post-fight aftermath, Marquez stated, “This was a great fight. Finally in that fourth [Pacquiao] fight, we obtained justice. This fight is for all of the Mexicans that have supported me in that fourth fight and this fight was for them.” So is that a yay or a nay on Pacquiao-Marquez V?” We’ll relax. I don’t know at the moment but any decision we make will be good for me, good for my family and good for the Mexican fans.”
 
Pacquiao is slated to go again in mid-November in Macao, China (where it’s doubtful Marquez would be willing to go). You get the sense that in the manner which he won their last fight (with the vicious shot heard ‘round the boxing world) back in December of 2012, he feels that, regardless of what the record books say, he has forever gained the upper hand in this rivalry, putting a capper on it he simply won’t be able to top. The man who will try and put together is their mutual promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions, who told the ringside press, “It’s up to [Marquez]; it really is. Manny wants the fight. I think there’s a lot of money in the fight, so we’ll see.”
 
The only problem is despite the historic nature of this series - and even with the thrilling back-and-forth nature of their last meeting - there is still a sizable contingent of fans who are feeling a bit of fatigue. There is a chance the pay-per-view numbers could decline (as they have recently for Pacquiao fights in general).

“And I say, ‘So what?’” was Arum’s retort. He explained, “The U.S. is not the only market. This time, in November, we’ve already got everything going for pay-per-view in China. We have Zou Shiming fighting for a title, Manny, a big card and Sunday morning is an ideal time for pay-per-view in China.” Yes, the bottom line will often (if not always) trump the interest of the boxing fans. But ask yourself this: What would be so bad about another fight between these two men who have given us such great memories? When they square off, memorable things happen. It will go into the annals of boxing as one of the greatest pairings of all-time.
 
A quick Twitter poll (which obviously isn’t exactly the Gallup) shows that most fans have had enough.
 
But did people complain back in the day about Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta swapping leather six times?
 
Probably not but those two also fought in an era when boxers were much more active (Robinson finished with a career record of 173-19-6 (108) while LaMotta had a mark of 83-19-4 (30) by the time he hung ‘em up). The reality is they fought in a time when fighters seemed to have much more complete résumés. At the same time, as this rivalry developed, these match-ups became a bit more spaced out in frequency.
 
They first met up in October 2nd of 1942, a 10-round verdict for Robinson at Madison Square Garden. The rematch took place on February 5th, 1943 when LaMotta handed the great “Sugar” his first pro defeat at Olympia Stadium in Detroit. Between the two fights, Robinson engaged in four fights, LaMotta five. They met again just three weeks (yes, three weeks with Robinson actually engaging in a 10-round tune-up against California Jackie Wilson in-between) later when Robinson scored revenge on the “Bronx Bull.” The duo squared off again for the fourth time on February 23rd, 1945. This after a period in which Robinson had a dozen bouts and LaMotta had 16 contests (including four against Fritzie Zivic and three go-‘rounds with Ossie Harris - talk about repetitiveness…). As they fought for the fifth time on September 26th, 1945 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Robinson had three fights while LaMotta had seven in the interim. Then before their final chapter on February 14th, 1951, the “Valentine’s Day Massacre” that ended this series, Robinson had a whopping 64 fights between their fifth and sixth meetings while his counterpart had 31.
 
So yeah, while we certainly got plenty of Robinson-LaMotta in that span, there was also a multitude of other dance partners available. Contrast to Pacquiao and Marquez, who first met on May 8th, 2004 (their thrilling 12-round draw), the rematch took place nearly four years later on March 15th, 2008. Pacquiao was involved in nine fights beforehand, Marquez seven. Their third meeting was on November 12th, 2011. Pacquiao was coming off a monster eight-fight run that saw him defeat the likes of Oscar De la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley among others. Marquez boxed six times, facing Juan Diaz, Floyd Mayweather and Michael Katsidis. Their last hook-up was December 8th, 2012. They have each had two fights since.
 
There is that possibility that Pacquiao and Marquez - if another fight is consummated between the two - will face each other three times within six fights over three years. Yeah, when you put it like that, it does seem like too much of a good thing. Sure, you could argue that Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward fought three times over a 13-month stretch but those guys were much more limited than these two and therefore didn’t have the options Pacquiao and Marquez possess. The frequency of these bouts has been a by-product of boxing’s lingering “Cold War” between promotional powerhouses Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions that has limited their options.
 
But with De la Hoya tweeting away promises of ending this stand-off, you have renewed hopes that the Ruslan Provodnikov, Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter can get in that mix and also get a chance to make some history. Let’s see who will emerge from this new generation or if the old guard can hold them off for a bit. As Larry Merchant says, “Fights make fights.”
 
Pacquiao-Marquez V wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world but neither would moving on from it.
 
Inside the LA Forum
Photos by © K9 Photos
Special seating inside the LA Forum.
FORUM
 
Alongside Marquez, the Fabulous Forum also shined as it once again hosted the “Sweet Science” and it’s safe to say the night was a rousing success on all accounts.

“The thing that really thrills me is it’s a great fight to come back to the Forum with because, believe me, so many years ago there were so  many nights at the Forum where we had fights like this,” said Arum, who plans to be back as often as possible to this building on Manchester Boulevard. “We’re definitely coming back here. We were going to come back here July 19th with the [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr. fight [versus Gennady Golovkin] but hopefully we can restart conversations with Julio and with the father present and hopefully we do it on Mexican Independence Day [weekend].”
 
I have to say, walking around this facility, I was impressed by just how clean and new it looked. The concourses had a modernized look to them and there were other modifications to this place that were very noticeable. Also because the Forum does not have luxury suites, the sightlines are remarkable good. Regardless, it’s great to have boxing back here. As Marquez was being intro’ed by Michael Buffer, it was as loud and electric as any crowd I can recall in this city and smelling the bacon wrapped hot dogs sold outside by independent vendors, it just seemed right.
 
This is the best new/old venue in the game.
 
EMAIL
 
On Sunday morning I got this email from a D. Pottinger, who wrote:
 
“I understand the fact that HBO cannot continually talk about the circumstantial evidence suggesting Marquez and PED use but if you are going to spend much of the fight talking about his ability to fight at this age and look great, don’t you have to mention the acne all over his back and chest?
 
Personally, I find it difficult to keep pretending this isn’t what it looks like.
 
Great podcast, by the way. Thanks.
 
D, thanks for your submission. Look, I don’t believe in selective prosecution regarding to the issues of PEDs in sports/boxing whether it’s Barry Bonds, Manny Pacquiao and now, Juan Manuel Marquez. It’s not fair or just but I hear your point. But the bottom line is this is a systemic failing from boxing’s powers that be who are basically allowing this to take place almost unhindered. I just hope it doesn’t take a ring fatality for this to finally be addressed properly.
 
And truth be told, am I suspicious of Marquez? Well, in my opinion, I think all fighters who are not going through a modernized, year-round, stringent drug-testing protocol are suspicious nowadays. As for Marquez specifically, well, I think you’d have to be deaf, mute, blind, hopelessly naive and/or a Marquez fanatic to at least not have a raised eyebrow. But again, this issue is about much more than just him.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
 
Before that late KO, Viktor Postol-Selcuk Aydin was among the worst fights HBO has ever had. Why was it on that particular card?...Andy Ruiz has a lot of ability. You just hope he can one day get in better physical condition...I think it’s safe to say that Jose Ramirez is already a legitimate draw in Fresno. The numbers he’s doing for UniMas shows are amazing...Joel Diaz is a decent young fighter but I worry about his durability...Do the Pacers really have a shot at the Heat? Can they really win four games over seven versus Miami?...How ‘bout that California Chrome?...By the way, the parking rates at the LAX Marriott are insane...The segment on the working conditions in Qatar by ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp is must-see-TV...

I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.




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