JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ VISITS LAREDO TO BE INDUCTED AT LATIN SPORTS HALL OF FAME TONIGHT
By Dr. Allan Recto
31 Jan 2010
Juan Manuel Marquez (c), being presented with a special trophy as boxing world champion. Sheriff Martin Cuellar looking on at right.
(With Exclusive Interview by Dr. Allan Recto)
Laredo, Texas (Jan. 30, 2010) – Last night was a memorable night for boxing fans in this border city who witnessed Mexico’s legendary boxer and current WBO/WBA Lightweight Champion Juan Manuel Marquez’ visit. The famous fighter is in town to receive an award from the Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame whose celebrating their 35th Anniversary today. As an inductee, Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez (50-6-1/ 37 KO’s) was given a Laredo welcome at the Palenque Grill Restaurant hosted by owner Francisco Ochoa, also being honored as Sports Ambassador. Tonight at 7pm, the Latin Sports Hall of Fame will host its official induction ceremony at the Laredo Civic Center.
Juan Manuel Marquez (L), Roberto Solis, Trainer Raul and Dr. Recto (R) at the Palenque Grill Restaurant, in Laredo, Texas.
Sitting across the champ at the dinner table, Juan Manuel Marquez recognized this Filipino boxing enthusiast and asked, “Doctor, why does Manny Pacquiao not want to fight me?” Not knowing the answer, I posed a question to him instead, “Whom do you think will win if Mayweather and Pacquiao fight?” Without any hesitation, he answered back, “Mayweather!” When queried further, Marquez revealed, “Mayweather has a very good defense (motioning a shoulder roll) and is quicker…and punches harder than Pacquiao.”
This writer’s response was that Pacquiao would defeat Mayweather even with his shoulder defense. Marquez was also bewildered why the fight negotiations (Mayweather-Pacquiao) failed over blood testing issues. Marquez stated, “I believe that Manny Pacquiao is clean and he should not hesitate doing any random blood tests. In my own experience, it was no big deal for me when I had blood drawn 10 days before a fight.”
Being a ringside physician, this writer informed him that the State’s Athletic Commission as well as the sanctioning bodies regulate the fights and mandate whatever necessary medical tests are required. The fighters shouldn’t dictate these terms to each other but should request the commission for certain tests if they have issues. They should let the higher authorities decide if their issues warrant any merit. Team Pacquiao has always been willing to abide by the rules set forth by the commissions and did not wish to be forced upon to do things under the whims and caprices of Team Mayweather.
Juan Manuel Marquez revealed, “After the negotiations failed (Mayweather-Pacquiao), Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya called me and asked me if I wanted to fight Pacquiao….and I told him….yes, of course!…then I was disappointed because a few days later, Bob Arum announced the Pacquiao-Clottey fight in Dallas, Texas.” A visibly disheartened Marquez asked me again, “Why doctor, why does Pacquiao avoid me? Everywhere I go in Mexico, people ask me in the streets, when will you fight Pacquiao again? I tell them Pacquiao doesn’t want to fight me. He is scared of me. Our fight will be a big event. It would have been bigger than Pacquiao-Clottey. The Mexican people will be behind me.” When this writer asked him about the possible winner of a Mayweather –Mosley fight, he chose Floyd “Money” Mayweather. This writer informed him, “Pacquiao picks Mosley.”
At around 9:30 pm, Juan Manuel Marquez left with his small entourage accompanied by Laredo’s family of boxers – the Gomez brothers – to continue the celebration with a Texas-style barbeque party. Upon the invitation of the Gomez’ brothers, I followed their convoy to a ranch outside the city limits. There were more than a 100 people in attendance, patiently waiting for their hero from Mexico to arrive. A Mariachi band played songs all night. This writer recognized fellow physicians, lawyers, judges, politicians, local Laredoans, etc. amongst the crowd. Most had leather jackets, cowboy hats and boots gathering around little campfires. It was a cold night with a temperature of 46*F. The boxing champ “Dinamita” stayed indoors most of the night. Pleasantly, Juan Manuel Marquez signed gloves and posed for autographs with friends & fans before eating his ‘carne asada’ meal. Raul, his personal asst. & trainer was always with him at his side, securing him and attending to his needs. Later on, Laredo’s Sheriff Martin Cuellar presented the boxer with a trophy symbolizing the outstanding deeds he had accomplished.
The Sheriff remarked, “This trophy is from the people of Laredo. The four pillars signify your courage, power, smartness and strength with the globe on the top representing that you conquered the world as a boxing champion. Thank you for being a great champion Juan Marquez.” A standing ovation with a long applause followed.
As the night progressed, Juan Manuel Marquez enjoyed the festivities, entertainment, telling jokes & stories, mixing with local Laredoans. It is worthwhile to note the admiration and respect by the people of Laredo to the celebrated Mexican fighter. Another significant event was blowing the candles in the birthday cake of his close friend, former light welterweight contender, Rodolfo “Cobra” Gomez. Marquez considers the Gomez’ brothers part of his extended family in Laredo, Texas. Marquez chanted, “Mordida, Mordida, Mordida!” Mordida is the same word used for a bribe in Spanish but it also means, “to take a bite.” The birthday celebrant will take the first bite of the cake without any spoon or fork and their hands behind their back. Customarily, one of their best friends or family will push their face into the cake or lift it up into their face for the same effect. All this is being done in wholesome fun!
Retired boxer Rodolfo “Cobra” Gomez smiles after blowing the birthday candles in his cake as Juan Manuel Marquez and his family cheer him “mordida, mordida”.
Exclusive Interview: This writer had a chance to speak with Juan Marquez again.
Dr. Recto – “When and who do you fight next?
Juan Manuel Marquez – “In May of this year but there are ongoing negotiations, maybe with Amir Khan, Michael Katsidis, Nate Campbell or even Juan Diaz. Nothing signed yet. I’ll fight anyone; I don’t have a problem with that. It depends on lots of things - HBO, my promoter Golden Boy, the other boxer, venue, etc. But, you know, I still want to fight Manny Pacquiao later on. It’s what the people want.”
Dr. Recto – At what weight division would you fight him?
Juan Manuel Marquez – “I think at 140 lbs. But if Pacquiao wants it at possibly 147 lbs., no problem with me.”
Dr. Recto – Pacquiao is currently the WBO Welterweight champion and he fights Joshua Clottey in March 13 at the Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium. If there’s a 3rd fight between you and him, will you fight him at 147 lbs.?
Juan Manuel Marquez – “Yes, definitely, I will fight him at 147 lbs. It’s the best for the people who like boxing and everybody.”
Do you have any message to Pacquiao?
Juan Manuel Marquez – “Everybody knows I like to fight Pacquiao but he don’t want it. Bob Arum said the same. A lot of people know Pacquiao lost in our last fight. The numbers don’t lie, the punch stats, percentage and number of punches connected, etc. Check with HBO. I was ahead. All the boxing fans want to see a great, big fight. Doctor, you tell him I want to fight him again and not to avoid me next time.”
Dr. Recto – OK! How’s your brother Rafael? Where is he?
Juan Manuel Marquez – “He’s doing well. He is in Mexico preparing for his 4th fight with Israel Vasquez in May 22 at the Staples Center in L.A.”
Dr. Recto – I might go to Mexico City for the WBC Light Flyweight title defense of Filipino Rodel Mayol against number #1 contender from Mexico Omar Nino. I noticed you have a lot of fans here in Laredo. How do you feel?
Juan Manuel Marquez – “Yes, I feel at home here in Laredo, Texas. The people are nice like the Mexican people, you know. I feel like I have family here too.”
Juan Manuel Marquez (R), poses with Dr. Allan Recto, after the brief interview in Laredo, Texas.
Towards midnight, Marquez and entourage (his wife Erika and family friends/business associates) were getting ready to leave. They were staying at the elegant and historic La Posada Hotel in downtown Laredo overlooking the Rio Grande River with a great view across which is Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. This writer invited the group to drop by his house the next day for refreshments. I managed to tell the champ, “Mi casa es su casa.” (Translation: “My house is your house.”) “Sure, we’ll see, maybe in the afternoon, Doc,” replied Roberto Solis, a business associate of Marquez who kindly translated parts of the interview. This boxing fan would be honored to have a world champion visit his house. Before leaving the ranch, this writer thanked the host Jorge Montemayor (ranch owner) for his generosity as well as the Gomez’ brothers – boxers Manuel “Shotgun”, Rodolfo “Cobra” and son upcoming fighter Rudy “La Cobrita” Gomez, Jr (6-0/ 5 KO) for the invitation. It was indeed an unforgettable evening for me!
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