Dan Rafael: Juan Manuel Marquez

Brook-Khan: The time is now

March, 29, 2015
Mar 29

The biggest fight that can be made in the United Kingdom right now is, without question, Kell Brook against Amir Khan. It has been a fight the British public has talked about for the past couple of years but now it is red-hot. And it’s a big one in general, not just in the U.K.

Former unified junior welterweight titleholder Khan rolled to a one-sided decision against two-division titleholder Devon Alexander in December in the kind of statement performance that showed he was a serious welterweight contender ready for anyone in the division.

And then Brook, who came to the United States and impressively outpointed Shawn Porter in August to win a title, absolutely shredded mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan in four lopsided rounds on Saturday with a raucous hometown crowd in Sheffield, England, cheering him on.

Brook (34-0, 23 KOs), returning from a serious stab wound to his left leg six months earlier, dropped Dan four times in a spectacular performance to retain his title for the first time and then promptly called out Khan for what would be an enormous fight in England.

“Amir Khan, Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios -- those are the sort of names I want. Bring them on,” Brook said. “I want to entertain the fans and want them to tell me who they want to see me fight. I think the answer is Amir Khan, and if he’s watching -- let’s do it, come and fight me.

“If you're watching Amir Khan, then get in here with me. I know you're delicate around the whiskers. I’ll take you out."

Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, Brook’s promoter, also wants to make the massive fight.

“There is a little venue available on June 13 called Wembley Stadium,” Hearn said of the famous arena, where a British-record crown of 80,000 turned out last May for the Carl Froch-George Groves rematch. “If Amir Khan is watching give everyone what they want. It is the biggest payday available, and it’s for a world title.”

Khan and Brook have traded barbs before and disrespected each other. They don’t particularly like each other, which just adds heat to a promotion. If ever there was a time to make this fight it is right now.

Brook is free of any mandatory obligations, came out of the fight healthy and is anxious to fight again soon. Khan, who didn’t get either Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao because they are finally going to fight each other on May 2, needs an opponent.

There is none more significant or as interesting for Khan as Brook.

I asked Khan for his thoughts on a fight with Brook after his destruction of Dan. At first Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) claimed he was not interested but then seemed to change his tune.

“He’s only beaten one good fighter, Porter,” Khan said. “He needs some good wins against the likes of Rios, Marquez, [Keith] Thurman, [Marcos] Maidana and the fight will be even bigger.

“I’d love to shut him up, [but] why give someone a payday when they constantly disrespect you all the time? The fight will happen when it’s meant to happen. Before the fight he said I bring nothing to the table, no title and he don’t need to fight me as he’s the champion. Now he’s calling me out.”

Later, I pressed Khan on the issue. If you’d like to shut Brook up, why not do it? I suggested that he could fight Brook, shut him up by winning, claim a welterweight title and make, by far, his biggest payday.

Khan thought about it.

“I agree -- will start the talks,” he said.

As Hearn said: There’s a little venue called Wembley Stadium available on June 13.

Now give the people what they want.

Marquez to return in early 2015

October, 4, 2014
Juan Manuel MarquezChris Farina/Top RankA fifth fight against Manny Pacquiao may still be in the cards for Juan Manuel Marquez.
Future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez turned 41 in August, has won world titles in four weight classes and has made tens of millions of dollars in his decorated career by fighting several big fights, including against Manny Pacquiao (four times), Floyd Mayweather Jr., Marco Antonio Barrera and others.

Marquez is simply at the point in his career where he can pick and choose what he wants to do. What he wants to do is take the rest of the year off, so that is what he is doing.

Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs) lost a decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. last October in a welterweight title bout but bounced back with a dominant performance against Mike Alvarado on May 17. By winning a lopsided unanimous decision in the welterweight title elimination bout he became the mandatory challenger for Pacquiao, his great rival against whom he is 1-2-1.

A fifth fight with Pacquiao may still happen before they are both done, and while it was discussed for this fall, Pacquiao went in another direction and will face Chris Algieri. Marquez supposedly priced himself out of the bout.

But Marquez intends to fight again, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com.

"Juan Manuel will sit out the rest of this year and then back in action in the first four months of next year," Arum said. "He could fight a rematch with Bradley. He could also fight another fight with Manny. He could go a lot of ways. But Marquez is taking off the rest of the year and that is fine. He's an older fighter. For him to take a rest is smart. But he will be back."

Coyle-Katsidis should deliver action

September, 30, 2014
British lightweight Tommy Coyle is gaining a reputation among hardcore fight fans as an all-action fighter, mainly because of his absolutely thrilling brawl with Argentina’s Daniel Brizuela on Feb. 22 in Hull, England.

It is a definite fight of the year candidate, which Coyle won by 12th-round knockout to finish a fight that featured blazing action throughout and both men getting dropped four times apiece.

Coyle (19-2, 8 KOs) returned in May for an eight-round decision against a novice opponent setting himself up for a fight that could be another classic against Australia’s Michael Katsidis, one of boxing’s purest action warriors of the past 25 years.

Katsidis (30-6, 24 KOs) has been in several tremendous fights, including his all-time classic first fight against Graham Earl as well as battles with Juan Manuel Marquez, Juan Diaz and Czar Amonsot.

So when Coyle and Katsidis meet on Oct. 25 at the Ice Arena in Coyle’s hometown of Hull it will be the new generation of action fighter, Coyle, taking on the fading one in Katsidis, who has won two fights in a row since ending a two-year retirement in March, but is certainly near the end.

And wouldn’t you know? Coyle is a Katsidis fan.

“I used to be a big fan of his and I still am a big fan of Michael Katsidis,” Coyle said. “I’ve watched his fights for years. When I was offered the fight I took it straight away. I think all the boxing fans know I like to be involved in exciting fights and I’m sure this one will be another one of them.”

The fight Coyle had with Brizuela is the kind of fight that can take years off a career, but the 25-year-old Coyle said he does not believe it caused any lasting damage.

“I don’t think it took much out of me, I’m only young,” Coyle said. “I’ve got fresh legs. It’s not like I’ve been involved in 10 of those fights. It was just the one. I was in fantastic shape. I could’ve done 15 rounds that night.

“My lasting memory was picking myself up each time from the canvas. As the counts got bigger, the crowd got louder. That’s what picked me up and pulled me through fighting at home. I’ve got fantastic fans. But that adds character to someone generally. It’s certainly done that to me. It’s given me confidence. I was in there against a world class fighter and I was on the canvas four times. To come back to win a fight which, many said has been fight of the year, it shows character. It shows I can dig down into the trenches. It’s second nature to me.”

The way Katsidis and Coyle both go after opponents, it won’t be a surprise at all if they have to show that character Coyle was talking about and get off the canvas -- maybe even a few times -- come Oct. 25.

Marquez-Alvarado a ratings hit

May, 20, 2014

A few notes from the boxing word:

• Welterweight star Juan Manuel Marquez’s brilliant performance in a unanimous decision against Mike Alvarado on Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California, was a hit with HBO viewers. According to Nielsen Media Research, the fight drew an average audience of 1.198 million viewers, good for the second-most-watched cable fight of the year so far, behind only another HBO fight, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s rematch with Bryan Vera, which drew 1.39 million viewers. Marquez-Alvarado peaked at 1.322 million viewers for what was Marquez’s first live HBO fight since he knocked out Michael Katsidis in a lightweight world title fight in 2010.

Even Saturday’s co-feature, a junior welterweight eliminator between the unknown Viktor Postol and Selcuk Aydin, which Postol won by devastating 11th-round knockout, drew strong viewership. It had an average audience of 1.002 million, making it the fifth-most-watched bout on cable in 2014. The fight peaked with 1.137 million viewers. The top six audiences for cable fights in 2014 have all been on HBO.

• Philadelphia lightweight contender Hank Lundy (24-3-1, 11 KOs) will stay busy on May 31 when he faces journeyman Pipino Cuevas Jr. (17-11, 15 KOs), son of the former welterweight champion, in a scheduled 10-rounder at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Lundy is closing in on a world title opportunity, especially after his impressive lopsided decision win against Angelo Santana on Feb. 21.

"The whole idea is to stay busy and stay sharp," Lundy said. "That way, when I get the call to fight for a world title, I'll be ready to fight right then and there."

• Junior middleweight Jorge Cota of Mexico has signed a co-promotional deal with Sampson Lewkowicz and Mexico’s Kochul Promotions, Lewkowicz announced. Cota (22-1, 21 KOs), 26, trains in the same stable as former titleholders Fernando Montiel, Hugo Cazares and Jorge Arce.

"I am very excited to be given this opportunity," Cota said. "Sampson is the promoter who can bring me the international fights that showcase my talent and punching power. I will make him and my original promoters, Kochul, very proud with my training and performances."

Cota has won six fights in a row since his lone defeat in June 2012, a seventh-round knockout to Marco Antonio Rubio, who later won an interim world title.

• Cruiserweight contender Thabiso "The Rock" Mchunu (16-1, 11 KOs), of South Africa, whose last two bouts have been in the United States, will have his next fight at home on June 6, a 10-rounder in Pretoria against Julio Cesar Dos Santos (26-2, 23 KOs), of Brazil. Mchunu, 26, had a breakout performance in August when he stunningly -- and easily -- outpointed former heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers, after which Mchunu signed with Main Events to handle his fights in the United States while co-promoter Showpony Promotions puts on his bouts in South Africa.

“I am going to traumatize my Brazilian opponent, Julio Cesar Dos Santos, from beginning to end,” Mchunu said. “He'll take up soccer when I'm finished with him."

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Juan Manuel Marquez came in well below the 143-pound contract limit for his welterweight title eliminator against Mike Alvarado, weighing 141.6 pounds at Friday’s weight at the Forum.

Alvarado was 143.2 pounds, but no fuss was made about his being .2 pounds over the limit. According to Team Alvarado, they believed the limit was 144 pounds. However, Top Rank matchmaker Brad "Abdul" Goodman, who wrote out the contract, said it was 143 pounds, and that is also what Team Marquez said.

However, since Alvarado weighed in with his pants on, it was clear had he stripped he would have made weight. Marquez co-promoter Fernando Beltran said it was no big deal because of that fact.

“We were being gentlemen. He would have made weight, so there’s no issue,” Beltran said.

The WBO, which is sanctioning the fight as a title eliminator for the right to be titleholder Manny Pacquiao’s mandatory challenger, had no issue either since the weight limit for the welterweight division is 147 pounds and both were well inside it.

The fight Saturday night (HBO, 10:15 p.m. ET/PT) is the first fight card at the Forum since 2001.

Postol-Aydin made TV

April, 23, 2014
When Top Rank and HBO initially made a deal for the network to televise the welterweight title elimination bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado on May 17 from the refurbished Forum in Inglewood, Calif., it was planned as a one-fight telecast. The winner will be the mandatory challenger for Manny Pacquiao and his likely autumn opponent.

However, the network has changed its mind, for whatever reason, and will also televise an opening bout, the 12-round junior welterweight title eliminator between Ukraine’s Viktor Postol (25-0, 10 KOs), 30, and Selcuk Aydin of Turkey. The winner will become the mandatory challenger for 140-pound champion Danny Garcia.

Although Top Rank does not promote either fighter, Vadim Kornilov, who works with Postol, has a good relationship with Top Rank, including managing one of its top prospects, light heavyweight Egor Mekhontsev, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Russia.

“We were asked if we would put the fight on our show and we said fine,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com. “We told HBO, ‘Hey, it’s on the show anyway, why wouldn’t you televise it?’ And they agreed. HBO was only going to show the one fight and then this fell in our lap and they agreed to show it. Why they didn’t make a fight with us for the card at the start, I have no idea.”

HBO confirmed to ESPN.com that it would televise the bout but did not offer a reason for its sudden change of heart about adding a second fight to the broadcast.

Postol's most notable victory came in March 2013, a unanimous decision against contender Hank Lundy. Aydin (26-2, 19 KOs), 30, has had previous American television exposure, losing twice in a row on Showtime via decision in welterweight fights against Robert Guerrero (for an interim title in July 2012) and Jesus Soto Karass (in January 2013). Aydin has won three fights in a row since.

The May 17 undercard, although not part of the HBO broadcast, is also scheduled to include junior lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno (25-1, 10 KOs) against Oscar Bravo (21-3, 9 KOs).

Pacquiao wins, doesn't sell

April, 17, 2014

Although Manny Pacquiao scored a resounding decision victory against Timothy Bradley Jr. to reclaim his welterweight belt Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the PacMan wasn’t nearly as resounding in terms of his drawing power.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated almost $1.1 million less in ticket sales than the first fight and represented Pacquiao’s worst gate performance in the past eight fights he has had in Las Vegas, dating to his star-making knockout victory against Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated a live gate of $7,865,100 from 14,099 sold tickets, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. There were 894 unsold tickets and 926 complimentary tickets from the 15,919 available tickets.

When Bradley was given a hugely controversial split decision win against Pacquiao in their first fight in June 2012, also at the MGM Grand, the bout generated a live gate of $8,963,180 from 13,229 tickets sold, with 2,070 unsold tickets and 925 complimentary tickets.

Pacquiao’s fight with De La Hoya was his best gate performance, generating $14,380,300, fourth-best in Nevada history. But the Bradley rematch didn’t come close to his other Las Vegas fights.

Pacquiao’s third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez generated $11,648,300, Marquez IV was $10,888,900, Shane Mosley $8,882,600, Miguel Cotto $8,847,550 and Ricky Hatton $8,832.950.

The figure for Pacquiao-Bradley II was a bit surprising because many figured there would be pent-up demand to see Pacquiao again; he had not fought in the United States since the fourth fight with Marquez in December 2012. His only fight of 2013, a rout of Brandon Rios, took place in Macau.

The HBO PPV numbers have not been disclosed yet and are not expected until at least next week because Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and president Todd duBoef, Arum’s stepson, left the country on a family vacation the day after Pacquiao-Bradley II, and they have not yet discussed the figures with HBO. Pacquiao-Bradley II will be replayed Saturday on HBO beginning at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

Pacquiao talks Bradley-Marquez

April, 8, 2014

Manny Pacquiao has faced Juan Manuel Marquez in four memorable battles, going 2-1-1, including a shocking one-punch knockout loss in fight No. 4 in December 2012.

Pacquiao has also faced Timothy Bradley once, losing a massively controversial split decision in June 2012.

After facing Pacquiao, Bradley outboxed Marquez two fights later, in October, to defend the title he claimed against Pacquiao.

Now Pacquiao is set to go back into the ring to face Bradley in a rematch on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. So is there anything Pacquiao might have picked up about Bradley watching him face Marquez, his greatest rival?

Not exactly.

That’s because Pacquiao said he did not watch the fight (if you believe him). Pacquiao did, however, say that Bradley’s decision win did not surprise him.

“That is what I had predicted,” Pacquiao said. “Bradley obviously fought the better fight and boxed Marquez. I assume Marquez just could not overcome Bradley's skills and youth and there was no way Bradley was going to go toe-to-toe after his battle with Ruslan Provodnikov.”

In the fight after facing Pacquiao, Bradley slugged it out with Provodnikov in the 2013 fight of the year, a battle in which Bradley was knocked down, badly hurt multiple times and concussed. He said he fought Provodnikov toe to toe by design. Then he returned to a boxing style against Marquez.

So which Bradley will show up against Pacquiao? Pacquiao said he expects Bradley fight him the way he did Marquez, rather than try to slug with him like he did against Provodnikov. Pacquiao has far better power than Bradley.

"I do not think Bradley will fight toe-to-toe with me, either, so I will have to hunt him down,” Pacquiao said. “I am prepared for that. I am not going for a knockout but if the opportunity presents itself, I am going to go for it this time. Bradley's talk that I am no longer hungry has inspired me throughout this training camp. As [trainer] Freddie Roach keeps saying every day in training, ‘No mercy.’”

Roach has watched Bradley’s performance against Marquez and perhaps gleaned something from it, especially since he is also so familiar with Marquez’s style.

“For his fights he does what he is supposed to do,” Roach said of Bradley. “He boxed well against Marquez and he beat a good fighter. What he will bring to the table against Manny is what he brought against Marquez. He likes to exchange a little bit also, so when we get into an exchange we will have to take advantage of that moment.”

Alvarado: 'I’m a Marquez fan'

March, 26, 2014

Forgive former junior welterweight titlist Mike Alvarado if he was perhaps a little bit in awe Wednesday when he came face to face with Mexican star and former four-division titleholder Juan Manuel Marquez at the news conference to kick off the promotion for their welterweight title elimination fight.

They meet in an HBO-televised main event at the newly refurbished Forum in Inglewood, Calif., May 17 in a fight that will produce the mandatory challenger for the April 12 rematch between titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Marquez-Alvarado will be the first card at the Forum, which used to be a boxing hotbed and where Marquez came up as a young prospect almost 20 years ago, since it was recently renovated.

Alvarado was -- is -- a big Marquez fan. He looked up to him when he was a young fighter, loved watching his fights and hoped one day to come close to matching his achievements.

“When I first started fighting I was watching Marquez fight and looking up to him,” Alvarado told ESPN.com. “He’s one of the best. He’s a Mexican boxing legend. It’s awesome, a real-life dream come true for me to fight someone like this. I looked up to Marquez and have all the respect in the world for him.”

So while Wednesday’s news conference was a day for Alvarado to revel in the fact that he will face a future Hall of Famer, make a big payday and qualify to fight an even bigger fight for another world title if he wins, the seriousness of his May 17 task was not entirely lost on him.

“I’m a Marquez fan but I still have to do what I have to do,” Alvarado said. “It’s amazing and kinda shocking and hasn’t hit me yet that I’m fighting him. It’s still kinda like, ‘Hey, I’m fighting Marquez,’ and that’s cool. But it’s sinking in. I am pushing myself. I know I’m gonna have to dig deep to redeem myself.”

Alvarado said he views this fight as redemption for his last fight, when he and Ruslan Provodnikov put on a tremendous slugfest, but Provodnikov dropped Alvarado twice and forced him to retire on his stool after the 10th round.

[+] EnlargeRuslan Provodnikov and Mike Alvarado
Chris Farina/Top RankMike Alvarado, right, lost his title in a tough battle with Ruslan Provodnikov last October.
Alvarado lost his world title and, to make matters worse, it happened in front of his hometown fans in suburban Denver.

“It was really tough,” Alvarado said. “I was mentally beating myself up for the next couple of weeks after the fight. I have to get back to where I need to be. I had to bring the old Mike back, bring back the basics that made me who I am. Not changing things up. I know that ring.

“I went home and hung out, and iced my eyeball. I was hard-timing it. It sucks. It was my hometown. I have a lot of great supporters. Everyone was happy to see a good show like that, but it hurt. I watched [a video of the fight] eventually. I’d be watching and saying, ‘Why’d I let that happen? How’d that happen.’ I wasn’t at the top condition I should have been or I could have been. I wasn’t going after it. I guess there were a lot of distractions fighting at home. I will be more secluded for this fight.”

Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) knows Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs), as great as he has been, is 40 now and also coming off a loss, a decision challenging Bradley for his belt in October. As he has done after many of his recent fights, Marquez once again talked about possible retirement before agreeing to fight Alvarado.

Alvarado, although a confessed Marquez fan, would love to be the one to send him into retirement for real.

“I don’t know his plans after this fight, if he plans on retiring or what, but it could be huge for me,” Alvarado said. “I could redeem myself and retire a boxing legend. That would be the best way to redeem myself. I’m so motivated for what I have to do.

“I think he’s on his way out, so this is kind of like a farewell. He seems like he’s ready to go. He already made a mark in this boxing game and doesn’t have much to prove. He don’t have to prove anything. He built his legacy and he’s 40. It’s time to retire. This is awesome -- me knowing I can be the man to retire him.”

Marquez-Alvarado bout on tap?

February, 12, 2014
Juan Manuel MarquezAP Photo/Julie JacobsonJuan Manuel Marquez could find himself returning soon to a venue where he built his reputation.
One thing is clear: Top Rank will promote an HBO card on May 17 at the newly renovated Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The open question, however, is what's the main event?

There are two possibilities. It could be the much-discussed fight between interim lightweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KOs) and junior lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia (34-0, 28 KOs), who would move up in weight.

That fight is being negotiated and by all accounts it's going to get done sooner than later. In fact, there's a good chance that it will be the main event on May 17.

However, Top Rank big boss Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Tuesday that Garcia-Gamboa might shift to June and be replaced by another fight that makes more sense at the Forum, a showdown between former four-division titlist Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) and former junior welterweight titleholder Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs).

In 1995, in the 10th fight of his Hall of Fame-caliber career, Marquez began fighting regularly at the Forum. It's where he built his reputation and went from unknown prospect to big-time contender. Marquez fought there 12 times in all, when he was promoted by now-defunct Forum Boxing.

"We're going on May 17 at the Forum and Marquez has a tremendous history there. Having him go back to fight there -- and the new building is spectacular -- is very appealing," Arum said.

"It would be very appropriate to re-open the Forum for boxing with Marquez. But that fight with Alvarado isn't done yet. If we can't get it done, we would go with Garcia-Gamboa there [on May 17]. If we can get Marquez-Alvarado done, we would go with Garcia-Gamboa on a different date, probably at a different site."

Marquez and Alvarado are both coming off October losses and the winner would certainly propel himself back into a bigger fight in the fall, perhaps against the winner of the April 12 rematch between Bradley and Manny Pacquiao. Marquez lost by split decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. in a welterweight title fight and a week later Alvarado lost his 140-pound title via 10th-round knockout to Ruslan Provodnikov.

Arum said that Alvarado wants the fight but Marquez has not yet committed.

"We were getting mixed signals from Marquez and then [co-promoter] Fernando [Beltran], who is in constant touch with Marquez, said he wanted to fight in May," Arum said. "We said, 'Would Marquez fight a guy like Alvarado?' And Fernando said, 'Why not?' So Fernando is visiting with Marquez and believes Marquez is open to the fight, but he has to talk to him. Alvarado wants the fight and would move up [to 147 pounds] for the fight."

Pacquiao opponent coming soon

January, 3, 2014
Manny PacquiaoChris Farina/Top RankManny Pacquiao's next opponent on April 12 will likely be Timothy Bradley Jr. or Ruslan Provodnikov.
We already know that former eight-division titleholder Manny Pacquiao is scheduled to fight on April 12 and headline an HBO PPV card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. What we don't know is who exactly the Filipino congressman will be swapping punches with.

The next step in that process comes Saturday when Top Rank promoter Bob Arum meets at his Los Angeles home with Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz.

"We are down to business now," Arum told ESPN.com on Friday. "Michael is coming over to my house and there will certainly be progress made on Manny's next fight. Then I need some time to finalize a deal with the opponent. I think we will select the opponent [on Saturday] and then I will go close a deal with that guy."

In the running are welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., who owns a massively controversial split-decision win against Pacquiao in June 2012, and newly crowned junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, who used to be one of Pacquiao's sparring partners.

If Provodnikov, who lost a decision to Bradley in the 2013 fight of the year and then stopped Mike Alvarado in October to win a 140-pound title, gets the fight, he will be looking for a new trainer because he and Pacquiao share Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, and it's inconceivable that Roach would go with Provodnikov over Pacquiao.

Arum said there have already been conversations with the Bradley and Provodnikov camps about a potential fight with Pacquiao.

One man who isn't in the running to face the PacMan, according to Arum, is Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao's great rival. They have fought four times in memorable battles, including Marquez's lone victory, a resounding knockout in their last fight in December 2012. While Pacquiao is interested in a fifth fight, Marquez is not.

"Marquez has put himself out of the running because he doesn't want the fight," Arum said. "He hasn't priced himself out of the fight, he's just not interested at any price. What he's saying for him, it makes a lot of sense. He's like, 'How can I do any better against Pacquiao than knocking him out?'"

Arum said Marquez plans to fight again and would like a rematch with Bradley, who outpointed him in October. But with Bradley very likely to get another fight with Pacquiao, Marquez would have to find another dance partner.

"Marquez is gonna fight but that's my partner Fernando Beltran's job, to pin him down on what he wants to do. But Marquez will probably fight late in the spring," Arum said. "The guy he wants to fight is Bradley again, but Bradley would rather fight Manny."

Arum said Koncz was with Pacquiao in the Philippines over the holidays and returned to the United States after New Year's in order to meet with Arum on Saturday.

Pacquiao rebounded from the knockout to Marquez by rolling to a virtual shutout decision against Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 in Macau, China.

Marquez: 'I’d like to keep going'

October, 11, 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Ahead of Saturday night's bout against welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at Thomas & Mack Center -- and his attempt to win a world title in a fifth weight class -- Juan Manuel Marquez talked about several topics with ESPN.com.

Marquez recently turned 40. How much longer does he want to fight?
“I feel like going as long as I can. I do everything I need to do to keep in shape. I think I can fight for a while longer. I will decide this in the future but I feel great at 40. I don’t think I ever trained better. I’d like to keep going. After the last [Manny] Pacquiao fight [in December], my family wanted me to retire. I wanted this last one and maybe a few more.”

What did Marquez think of the controversial Bradley-Pacquiao decision?
“I think it was a good fight and both guys did a lot of good work. There’s nothing anyone can do about the judges. You can’t talk about something you don’t know because you can’t see what they see, but I definitely thought Pacquiao won by a couple of rounds. I think I would have given the nod to Manny that night.”

Marquez is 1-2-1 against Pacquiao, but knocked him cold in December’s fourth fight. Is he open to a fifth?
“I think that Pacquiao chapter is over. I don’t see me going back to that. I think I will see how I do with Bradley and what is out there after.”

What did Marquez think about Bradley’s brutal slugfest with Ruslan Provodnikov in March?
“It was a good fight, an excellent fight, but do I see myself in that kind of fight? I don’t know. It depends on how Bradley comes to fight. If he wants to box, we’ll box. If he wants to go toe-to-toe, we can do that. I have various strategies to make the fight my fight.”

Does Marquez think Bradley was damaged against Provodnikov, and that he is getting him at the right time?
“I think there was plenty of time to recover and get back to where he was. I expect the best Bradley, like he should expect the best of me. We are both at the top of our games and I think it will be a very entertaining fight.”

How did Marquez feel scoring such a massive knockout of Pacquiao?
“The power was something I didn’t expect. I was actually concerned when Manny was down and not moving. But I was so happy the way everyone enjoyed the fight. It was just a great moment in my career.”

Marquez has lost controversial decisions to Pacquiao and Bradley won one against him. Is Marquez concerned about the judging?
“I always put my faith in the judges. They are pros and do their job like we are pros and do our job in the ring. I hope that they see what happens in the ring and they do it right. That’s all you can hope for.”

Purses for Bradley-Marquez card

October, 11, 2013
LAS VEGAS -- The bout agreements have been filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez card on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Here’s a look at what the fighters on the pay-per-view telecast will earn, according to commission executive director Keith Kizer:

• Marquez, the star of the show, will receive a purse of $4 million to challenge Bradley for his welterweight title. However, Marquez’s overall guaranteed minimum is $6 million. He’ll get $4 million on the night of the fight with the other $2 million coming from other sources of revenue, including Mexican television rights. Bradley will earn $4.1 million for his second title defense. His career-high purse was the $5 million he made to face Manny Pacquiao in June 2012. Bradley and Marquez can also earn more based on how well the pay-per-view sells.

• Former featherweight titleholder Orlando Salido will earn $100,000 to challenge Orlando Cruz for a vacant world title. Cruz will make $65,000.

• Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine is getting $100,000 for his pro debut, and his opponent, Jose Luis Ramirez, is getting $25,000.

• For the opening bout of the broadcast, light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan is making $60,000 and Anthony Caputo-Smith will get $20,000.

Marquez, Bradley leave Pacquiao behind

October, 9, 2013

Manny Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division world champion and one of boxing’s biggest stars, has officially lost his last two fights.

First came the ultra-controversial split decision against Timothy Bradley Jr. in June 2012, which cost Pacquiao his welterweight world title. There was no such controversy in December as Juan Manuel Marquez, seemingly on the verge of being stopped, unleashed a monstrous overhand right that Pacquiao never saw as the sixth round was ending and knocked him out cold, the first definitive result in their epic series, which Pacquiao still leads 2-1-1.

When it came time for Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to put together Pacquiao’s next fight, which will take place in Macau, China, on Nov. 23, he naturally looked to Bradley and Marquez as the top candidates for the fight and made offers to both.

The controversy over Pacquiao’s first fight with Bradley certainly would generate huge publicity for another pay-per-view fight. Marquez and Pacquiao already had four great fights, and given the way the fourth one ended, there was a lot of interest -- meaning another pay-per-view bonanza -- in a fifth fight.

Amazingly, Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) and Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) both turned down the opportunity to face Pacquiao again, turning their backs on career-high purses in the process. Instead, Pacquiao will face former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios while Bradley will defend his welterweight title for the second time when he faces Marquez on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

But in a sport in which money is usually the No. 1 consideration for any deal, why, oh why, would Bradley and Marquez turn down a chance to fight Pacquiao again and instead face each other, in what will still be a terrific match, but not nearly as high-profile had Pacquiao been on the other side of the ring?

“Money isn’t everything,” Arum said in a shocking comment. “These guys aren’t fighting on Oct. 12 for peanuts. The purses they are getting are substantial and legacy is important for both Timothy and Juan Manuel Marquez. Timothy wants Marquez ... And Marquez wants to be the first Mexican to win five world titles in five weight divisions. Both of them indicated to me that Pacquiao could wait.”

Marquez is guaranteed $6 million while Bradley will earn a minimum $4.1 million, both of which are smaller purses than they would have made against Pacquiao.

Marquez just was not interested in going back to the well yet again, especially after the way he drilled Pacquiao in December in one of the most memorable knockouts of modern times.

“To me it didn’t make sense,” Marquez said. “There was no sense in doing a fifth fight. We had the definite answer on who was the best that night and we had three other close fights. I don’t see why we need to do another fight.

“It was a definite ending to our rivalry. If it would have been a close fight or controversial, I would be doing a fifth fight right now. It doesn’t make sense to do it now.”

As Arum said, claiming Bradley’s belt to become the first Mexican to win a world title in five weight classes is also a big reason why Marquez opted to fight Bradley instead of Pacquiao again. Marquez has already won titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140.

Bradley’s reasons for declining another Pacquiao payday are different from Marquez’s, but it didn’t stop him from making the surprising decision.

“One, going to China was a reason and, two, the money was not out of this world,” Bradley said. “Marquez is 40 and on his way out and I wanted to get a shot at him. I tried three years ago to get a crack at him -- to beat him -- and I wanted to fight him before he left the game. This is my opportunity to do that. Coming off the [Ruslan] Provodnikov fight [in March], it was a hard fight, it was a great fight and it did do some adjusting to where I fit in boxing.

“I figured let’s keep going towards the light and let’s face a new challenge in Marquez before he gets out, and beat him. Then maybe we can go back and revisit the dark side in Manny Pacquiao. I felt I wasn’t ready to do it again. After the Provodnikov fight I was in darkness. Then I came to the light and I want to stay in the light. I want to shine and I can do that by having two guys on my resume who are by far the best fighters in the world, Hall of Famers, and if I could beat both of these guys, I would be considered one of the best.”

Mayweather Jr.'s best performances

September, 20, 2013

Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s performance against Canelo Alvarez on Saturday night was so brilliant and so decisive it has to be considered one of the best performances in a career filled with them. But where specifically does this junior middleweight unification victory rank?

Here’s my opinion on the top 10 performances in the career of the pound-for-pound king:

John Gurzinski/AFP/Getty ImagesMayweather Jr. sent Corrales to the canvas four times during their fight in January 2001.
1. Diego Corrales (2001): A massive puncher, Corrales was undefeated and had a terrific résumé, and he should have had a world title but gave it up as part of boxing politics to make the fight with Mayweather happen. Although Corrales had distractions going into the bout -- he was soon headed to prison for a domestic-abuse situation and was also having problems making weight -- he was viewed as having a serious chance to win. In fact, this fight is the last time I picked against Mayweather. Instead of winning, or even making it competitive, Corrales was dropped five times and was stopped in the 10th round. It remains Mayweather’s signature victory.

2. Canelo Alvarez (2013): Alvarez was 13 years younger and strong, and he outweighed Mayweather by 15 pounds on fight night (165-150). It made no difference. Mayweather took every possible weapon away from Alvarez and did as he pleased, landing lead right hands and jabs all night long, not to mention solid body work. It was a masterpiece.

Floyd Mayweather, Genaro Hernandez
AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Craig L. MoranMayweather Jr. won his first title against Hernandez, who retired after the fight.
3. Genaro Hernandez (1998): Mayweather was 17-0 and had yet to face anybody who was any good. Hernandez was a well-respected champion, undefeated at 130 pounds and considered No. 1 in the division. Many thought Mayweather was biting off more than he could chew so early in his career. But Mayweather rose to the occasion and authored a beatdown, forcing Hernandez to retire on his stool after eight one-sided rounds. Hernandez retired after the fight while Mayweather, who won the first of his nine world titles in five weight classes, went on to greatness.

4. Ricky Hatton (2007): Hatton was 43-0 and the reigning junior welterweight champ when they fought in a huge fight. It felt like half of England had come to Las Vegas to support Hatton, making Mayweather’s hometown like enemy turf. But Mayweather took his time, broke Hatton down and, while leading widely on all three scorecards, drilled him for a spectacular 10th-round knockout.

5. Juan Manuel Marquez (2009): After beating Hatton, Mayweather retired but returned nearly two years later to face Marquez, who was moving up to welterweight. Although Mayweather purposely blew the 144-pound contract weight by two pounds and paid a $600,000 penalty, he was dazzling against a future Hall of Famer, who has since proved he is legitimate as a welterweight. Despite the long layoff, Mayweather looked as good as ever, dropping Marquez in the second round and cruising to a near-shutout decision.

Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather
Gabriel Boyus/AFP/Getty ImagesThe fight against De la Hoya set all kinds of boxing revenue records in 2007.
6. Oscar De La Hoya (2007): In the fight that set all boxing revenue records (some of which the Alvarez fight broke), Mayweather moved up to challenge the Golden Boy for his junior middleweight title. Although Mayweather had some problems in the first half of the fight thanks to De La Hoya’s superb use of his left jab, De La Hoya could not maintain it for the entire fight, while Mayweather figured his opponent out and coasted to a split-decision victory that really should have been a clear unanimous decision. Besides a strong performance, the fight helped Mayweather break through as a pay-per-view megastar.

7. Miguel Cotto (2012): Mayweather, who had returned to welterweight after beating De La Hoya, went back up to junior middleweight -- no catch weight for this fight -- and met Cotto for his belt. Cotto is a future Hall of Famer, and although no longer in his prime, he gave Mayweather a very tough fight. But Mayweather did what he always does: He found a way to win a clear unanimous decision in one of the most entertaining fights of his career. In the long view of history, this will go down as one of his biggest wins.

Floyd Mayweather and Luis Castillo
Chris Polk/FilmMagicMayweather dominated Castillo in the rematch after getting a close decision in their first meeting.
8. Jose Luis Castillo II (2002): In early 2002, Mayweather moved up to lightweight and challenged Castillo, the No. 1 fighter in the division, for his world title, winning via a controversial decision. There are many who believe Castillo deserved the victory or, at least, a draw. Perhaps stung by the criticism of the performance, Mayweather gave Castillo an immediate rematch later in the year and left no doubt as he won another decision, this time with more authority.

9. Angel Manfredy (1998): Just 47 days after dominating Genaro Hernandez to win the junior lightweight world title, Mayweather not only returned to make his first defense, but did so against the de facto No. 1 contender, Manfredy, who had looked good in a string of wins and had stopped Arturo Gatti earlier in the year. While many thought Manfredy would hang tough, he was nothing more than fodder as Mayweather simply crushed him in two one-sided rounds.

10. Arturo Gatti (2005): Few doubted that Mayweather would beat Gatti. The speed and defensive differences were going to be overwhelming. However, given his heart and penchant for comebacks and slugfests, Gatti could never be totally counted out. This one, however, was more or less over right off the bat. Mayweather absolutely dominated even more than some anticipated. He was ahead by a shutout on all three scorecards after six rounds when Gatti did something shocking: He retired on his stool. Not only had Mayweather battered Gatti, but he had made the ultimate warrior quit.