PACQUIAO WATCH: Gamesmanship
By Edwin G. Espejo
Mon, 07 Apr 2008
MANILA visitor Juan Manuel Marquez, from whom Manny Pacquiao wrested the World Boxing Council super featherweight crown, was again in his element.
He still refuses to accept the close split decision loss he suffered from Pacquiao.
It's a typical posturing of a man possessed and who probably has two or more fights left of his illustrious but once largely and unfairly ignored pro boxing career.
Until his two memorable and exciting fights with Manny Pacquiao, Marquez wallowed in the shadows of his more famous fellow Mexican ring gladiators who went by the names of Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.
While recognized as a technically gifted boxer with explosive power in both hands on the side, Marquez' natural skills were also his liabilities. He was avoided by marquee fighters wherever division he competed.
It took a Manny Pacquiao to warm up to the world that he is a force to reckon with in the featherweight class. The two fought to a controversial draw when they first clashed in 2004. Bad managerial decision prevented his career from picking up after that memorable clash with Pacquiao.
He lost to Indonesian Chris John after declining a six-figure purse to an immediate rematch with Manny.
His career was resurrected by Oscar de la Hoya's Golden Boy Promotion who took him under its wing and finally gave him the break he long waited for by pitting him against then reigning WBC super featherweight title holder Marco Antonio Barrera.
Marquez proved what many believed he was by beating Barrera in 12 rounds.
That crossroad victory earned him another crack at Manny.
Marquez was confident he would put a dent on Manny's fared reputation and solidify his claim as the best there is in the super featherweight.
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. He lost by the narrowest of margin in a fight so close Marquez insists he won.
Beyond Manny, Marquez knew that he cannot get a match up that will reward him financially and kept boxing fans' interest on him. Golden Boy Promotion also probably reckoned that Marquez is still its best bet against Pacquiao who is now boxing world's biggest draw in the lightweight and super featherweight division. And for less money fighting against lesser known opponents, Marquez won't take the risk of losing and bungling another shot at Manny.
At 34 years old, Marquez knew too well that time is no longer on his side.
Making up for the lost opportunity, both on the side of economics and recognition, Marquez planed in to Manila Sunday and issued a challenged straight face to Manny in front of TV cameras. He was literally begging for a third appointment with Pacquiao atop the ring.
It was a show of gamesmanship to whet the appetite of fans hungry for gore and non-stop exciting action. It was also a well-planned and calculated gamble to lure Manny into agreeing to a third fight with Marquez.
Will Manny take the bite?
Will it take soon?
Manny is on a mission to cement his place in the cruel world of boxing. Where only a few has achieved before, Manny wants a piece of boxing history by being in the company of four or five boxers who held four legitimate titles in four different weight categories which eluded him when Barrera abdicated the latter's featherweight crown when the two first fought in 2003. Manny pummeled Barrera across the ring on his way to a spectacular 11th round technical knockout victory.
Manny's next business is to capture the lightweight crown held by David Diaz to achieve what another Filipino boxing great Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde twice failed against Oscar Ortiz now that he already holds the record of being the first Asian boxer to hold crowns in three different weight divisions.
Once Manny got that job done, Marquez can always come back to Manila and he may no longer have to beg Manny in front of the cameras in hearing distance of the Filipino's avid followers.
But his promoter better be ready to give Manny an offer he cannot refuse.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Edwin G. Espejo.
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