REMEMBERING ‘DINAMITA’

24/08/18 – Julio Cesar Chavez, Salvador Sanchez, Ruben Olivares, Carlos Zarate, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales are all names we instantly think of when referring to Mexican Legends of the squared circle, when I am asked one of the first names that instantly spring to mind is Juan Manuel Marquez.

I write this because yesterday marked the birthday of Dinamita who turns 45, leaving a legacy which will forever be remembered fondly amongst the boxing fraternity.

So I decided whilst I dug out my Marquez collection that I would recite my favourites from a career that spanned 25 years, becoming a four weight world champion, one of only three men to do so, the others being Erik Morales and Jorge Arce.

A nine-time world champion, Marquez was known for the quickness of his hand speed as well as his piston-like combinations all in all he was a fascinating watch for the boxing spectator who he kept on the edge of his/her seat on more than one occasion.

As for the listing, before I ramble on too much, I’ll start with his obvious, his knockout of another legendary figure in Manny Pacquiao.

December 8, 2012 – KO 6 Manny Pacquiao, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

The two had shared the ring for 36 rounds, Pacquiao held a 2-0-1 record, the first time he dropped Marquez three times in the opening stanza before Marquez put on a display that many claimed was enough to gain the victory on the judges scorecards but we will revisit that later on.

Near on four years later, Pacquiao took victory by the slightest of margins when awarded a split decision whilst the third was razor thin also, again Pacquiao took home the victory this time via a majority decision.

Marquez felt hard done by with cries from the boxing community of robbery which was a sentiment shared as he also felt he had done enough to gain victory over his Filipino nemesis. He knew he couldn’t rely on the judges so in the fourth encounter, he took the option away from the tallying of the scorecards with a sublime knockout which will forever be enshrined into the history of our sport as one of the best.

Echoing from TV screens all over the world, the immortal words of Roy Jones Jr can be heard “He’s not getting up Jim” as Pacquiao lay motionless, face down on the canvas following a big overhand right that Marquez uncorked, it was a performance that still has goosebumps appearing whenever I rewatch it unfold.

February 28, 2009 – KO 9 Juan Diaz I, Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

The next on my list would be the knockout of Juan Diaz. Previously Marquez handed defeat to Casamayor but was presented with an entirely different proposition in Diaz who unlike the tactical approach of the Cuban was known for the unrelenting pressure he exerted on the opposition.

That’s exactly what the ‘Baby Bull’ employed against Marquez on the 31st July 2010 as he shot out of the gate in an effort to test the legs of the older fighter, Marquez knowing he had to stem the flow of continuous punching, started to unload combinations which made for a great fight that the fight fans in Houston lapped up.

Both fighters were cut in an engaging war but Diaz sensing more urgency ramped up the action a step or two, Marquez had an answer in the form of an uppercut which momentarily stopped Diaz in his tracks before a succession of shots dropped him to the canvas. Diaz rose to the count of four but faced with a finisher as good as Marquez, it was putting off the inevitable as Marquez finished with aplomb, dropping and knocking out Diaz in the ninth to send all spectators in attendance that night home with a smile on their face.

May 8, 2004 – D 12 Manny Pacquiao I, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Next, on my list, is the fight that kickstarted one of history’s best rivalries, In fact, you could honestly put all four of the Pacquiao v Marquez series of fights in these spots I need to fill, but It would be a crime if his draw with Pacquiao wasn’t noted.  Marquez showed that night that he had a heart the size of Mexico City, fight fans had virtually written him off in the very first round against the ‘Pac Man’ as he was sent to the canvas three times in the first half of the round.

Faced with a monumental task, blood seeping from his nose he walked to his corner in what many thought to be a condemned man. What happened after was mesmerising.

Nacho Bernstein sat his pupil down, talked him through the strategy calmly as round by round, Marquez incredibly clawed his way back into the contest, using straight shots and his control of distance.

The performance was such that fight fans were unable to separate the pair when it came to the judge’s scorecards, bear in mind Marquez had it all to do after the first, all three judges rendering different scores,  John Stewart saw Pacquiao a 115-110 winner whilst Guy Jutras saw Marquez ahead by the same margin. it was left to Burt Clements to decide as he firmly sat on the fence, scoring the fight 113-113.

March 17, 2007 – Marco Antonio Barrera, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

A Mexican War between two of the generations best, Marco Antonio Barrera came into the fight a slight favourite against Marquez as he started quickly using his quicker hand speed to sweep a few early rounds, the two styles on offer blended perfectly as we thought they would, Marquez ensconce to the task, cutting Barrera around his left eye with one of his racking shots, the fight was simmering nicely from a fight fans point of view.

The seventh was controversial in that Marquez was handily winning the round before Barrera who seemed beforehand to be on unsteady legs landed an overhand right that dropped Marquez with seconds remaining, unexplainedly the shot wasn’t scored a knockdown by referee Jay Nady and instead quite rightly on this part deducted a point from Barrera for a follow up shot whilst Marquez was down.

The rest of the bout was a give and take war with thoughts on it being a closely scored fight on the scorecards, this wasn’t the case, Juan Manuel Marquez secured bragging rights over Barrera with a wider than envisaged decision victory by scores of 118-109, 116-111 and 116-111.

November 27, 2010 – TKO 6 Michael Katsidis, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

In a list that could easily span a number of pages, my last addition would be Marquez’ defence against Michael Katsidis in another hellacious battle. The Australian was entering the contest having lost his brother who was found dead in his home in the weeks before.

Katsidis with that in mind came in with the added incentive for victory as the 37-year-old Marquez tried to stave off the marauding nature that we had come to know Katsidis for, that’s exactly what we got by the bucket load.

Katsidis closed the gap between the two men from the start, wanting to fight in close quarters whilst Marquez stepped around the attack to land accurate shots. In the third, the contest resumed its intensity with Katsidis landing a short hook that dropped Marquez much to the amazement of the onlooker.

Katsidis wanted to close out the bout as Marquez returned to his feet but the Mexican found answers for the questions being asked of him and regained control by the end of the round.

That moment on both pushed the pace with barrages of punches that bounced off the heads and bodies of both men, Katsidis for his part had given every ounce of energy to the challenge but was found wanting by Marquez who’s incredible variety of shots eventually wore down the challenger to the point where Kenny Bayliss showed sympathy in ending the contest, bringing the high octane fight to its climax.

These are five of my most memorable fights of Juan Manuel Marquez’ career, it only becomes apparent upon research that you truly appreciate the incredible fighter he was, for me Marquez will always be remembered fondly as one of Mexico’s greats, it never fails to bring a smile to my face whenever asked about him in conversation as I thank him for the service he provided to our great sport.

Please let me know your favourites by tweeting me @TOPCLASSBOXING or commenting on the facebook page you see this article.