Marquez still stalking Pacquiao
Saturday's title fight looms, but JMM can't shake thoughts of another showdown
Juan Manuel Marquez, a three-division champion and a certain future member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, is a proud man.
So after suffering the disappointment of losing a controversial majority decision to welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao in November, in their third fight, Marquez wanted nothing more than a fourth meeting with his superstar rival.
Lineup of televised bouts for the Top Rank/HBO PPV split-site card on Saturday night (9 ET, $44.95) from the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City and Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas:
From Mexico City:
• Junior welterweights: Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KOs) vs. Sergey Fedchenko (30-1, 13 KOs), 12 rounds, for a vacant interim title
From Las Vegas:
• Lightweights: Brandon Rios (29-0-1, 21 KOs) vs. Richard Abril (17-2-1, 8 KOs), 12 rounds, for a vacant title
• Junior welterweights: Mike Alvarado (32-0, 23 KOs) vs. Mauricio Herrera (18-1, 7 KOs), 10 rounds
• Lightweights: Mercito Gesta (24-0-1, 12 KOs) vs. Oscar Cuero (15-7, 12 KOs), 10 rounds
But Pacquiao and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum had other ideas, which is why Pacquiao will instead defend his belt against junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. on June 9. Marquez was so upset he didn't immediately get another shot at Pacquiao that he thought about calling it a career.
"I considered retiring because everybody knows I want to fight Manny again and that I won the last fight, and I feel very angry about that decision," Marquez said. "Everybody knows I was looking for the rematch with Manny, but I don't know what happened. The most important thing is, I like to fight and I will fight on [Saturday] and I am very happy about that. But I don't know what happened with the rematch."
Ultimately, Marquez, a fighter at heart, changed his mind. Rather than retire or pout about Pacquiao's decision, he decided to fight on. With no big-name opponent available, he nonetheless wanted to stay busy and accepted a fight against little-known Sergey Fedchenko (30-1, 13 KOs) of Ukraine. They will meet for a vacant interim junior welterweight belt on Saturday night (Top Rank PPV, 9 ET, $44.95) in the first sports event to be held at the new Mexico City Arena in Mexico City.
"He is a professional, a true professional," Arum said of Marquez. "He is a smart man and he knows what it's all about, and he knows that complaining, once the judges render the decision, doesn't change the result. So you pick yourself up and continue your career. I sort of suspect that the best is yet to come in Juan Manuel's career."
The fight is a homecoming for Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KOs). He is from Mexico City but hasn't fought there since 1994, his second year as a professional fighter. Opening a new building to boxing in his hometown has helped excite Marquez for a fight against an opponent that few have heard of.
"It's a great motivation to be at home," Marquez said. "It's a great satisfaction and, at the same time, a great responsibility. I have prepared quite well. It is a difficult fight, but I am looking forward to a great fight to show everyone how proud I feel about being Mexican and fighting once again at home."
In the televised co-feature of the split-site card from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Brandon Rios (29-0-1, 22 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., will face Miami-based Cuban Richard Abril (17-2-1, 8 KOs) for the vacant lightweight belt Rios was stripped of in December when he failed to make weight for a defense against John Murray.
Marquez said that after thinking about things following the disputed loss to Pacquiao -- all three of their fights have ended in controversial decisions, with Marquez officially going 0-2-1 -- he decided to continue because he still thinks he can get another fight with his rival.
"The main reason for me to continue is that I want a rematch with Manny and that is the main factor for me to come back," Marquez said. "I have the fight on [Saturday], but I train very hard again. I think I won the last fight and I am looking for the rematch."
Marquez was one of the opponents considered for Pacquiao's June fight, but Arum said there were no serious negotiations before they settled on Bradley.
The reason, Arum said, was because "I got a sense from Manny that he would do a rematch with Juan Manuel, but not as his next fight."
It could happen in November, though, as long as Marquez and Pacquiao win their next fights. Although most fight fans want to see Pacquiao face Floyd Mayweather Jr., they remain far apart. Mayweather's insistence on getting more than a 50 percent share of the revenue is a sticking point, not to mention that Mayweather would have to beat Miguel Cotto on May 5 and then have the desire to fight so soon after serving an 87-day jail sentence due to begin June 1.
With a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight so unlikely for the fall, that would leave Marquez, 38, as a likely opponent for Pacquiao.
"I have to be realistic about this," Arum said. "I don't think that Mayweather will be available in the fall to fight Manny. He certainly doesn't indicate that he wants to fight Manny. I think everyone would be better off if we thought about that fight for next year. But everything is open. First of all, Manny has a really tough fight with Bradley, and secondly, everybody would certainly agree that Juan Manuel deserves a rematch. I am concentrating on that if Manny can fight through to next year, we are hoping that the Mayweather fight could take place next year."
That means maybe Pacquiao-Marquez IV in November.
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"Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the finest fighters in the world, and many people felt that the account he gave fighting Manny Pacquiao would have won the fight, but that is boxing," Arum said of the third fight. "Hopefully, Juan Manuel is on the path right now so he can again fight Manny Pacquiao later in the year."
Another future possibility for Marquez could be a summer fight with Rios, as long as Rios defeats Abril.
Arum said he is planning a July 14 pay-per-view card at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. The main event could be Marquez-Rios, with junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire appearing in the co-feature.
It remains to be seen if Marquez would want to jeopardize a possible fourth fight with Pacquiao by taking on Rios, whom most would consider a far more dangerous foe than Fedchenko.
Marquez declined to speculate about a Rios fight. There has also been chatter that he could fight July 14 against Filipino lightweight Mercito Gesta, who will be on the Las Vegas portion of Saturday's pay-per-view.
Rios sounded like he was up for Marquez.
"Juan Manuel Marquez and I have a lot of options in 2012 and a lot of opportunities," he said. "I think this could be a career year for either of us. One of us could end up as the fighter of the year."
Arum said he is interested in matching Marquez and Rios, but he said there was no use expending energy on it until after Saturday.
"First they have to win, and then they have to agree to the fight," Arum said. "We haven't talked to either of them yet about terms and so forth. We are holding Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the match if we make it, but one step at a time."
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