- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Hoping to make one more run to a world title, former two-division champion Rafael Marquez has signed a four-fight deal with Golden Boy Promotions, which has top fighters at junior featherweight and featherweight that he potentially could fight.
"We'd like to give him a comeback fight and see how he does, give him a few fights and then eventually match him with a Leo Santa Cruz or an Abner Mares. Rafael Marquez is a good name and he has always made good fights," Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said. "We have some potential fights for him."
Marquez (41-8, 37 KOs), of Mexico, has won world titles at bantamweight and junior featherweight and has been one of boxing's most crowd-pleasing fighters for years. He is known best for his epic four-fight series with countryman Israel Vazquez, three of which were for the world junior featherweight championship. They concluded their series 2-2, with Marquez winning the first and fourth bouts. The second and third bouts were named fight of the year for 2007 and '08. The likely reason the first fight did not win a fight of the year award was because it was also in 2007.
However, Marquez is 38 now and has lost three of his past five fights dating to 2010, including being stopped in the ninth round by former junior bantamweight champion Cristian Mijares in an October featherweight bout, although Marquez complained bitterly about the stoppage.
Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez said Marquez -- the younger brother of four-division champion Juan Manuel Marquez -- will fight on a date to be determined in September. He also said that Marquez had reunited with Hall of Fame trainer Nacho Beristain, who led him to his world titles. Beristain also trains Juan Manuel Marquez.
"Rafael is coming off a loss, so we will give him a fight in September and see how he looks and see if he can still compete with one of our young guys," Gomez said. "He wants to fight for a world title again and at his age, he doesn't want to waste any time. He wants good fights. He wants any one of our top guys at 122 or 126.
"So we will give him a fight, get him cleaned up [from his last loss]. He's a little long in the tooth but he has a lot of fans and he is still very well liked. He said he still wants to train and being back with Nacho has to be a positive."
Marquez spent the past few years training under Daniel Zaragoza, Beristain's former assistant and a Hall of Fame fighter.
"I will make those four fights with Golden Boy and then say goodbye to boxing, which could happen in 2014," Marquez told the Record, a Mexican newspaper. "I need another world title. I feel pretty good to continue fighting. People will see the difference in Rafael Marquez. I have to show them that I have a lot left. There are many opponents who could face me -- Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz, Victor Terrazas."
Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs) holds a featherweight belt and defends it Aug. 24 (on Showtime) against former titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs) at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. On the undercard, Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KOs), a former bantamweight titlist who vacated his belt to move up in weight, challenges junior featherweight titlist Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KOs).