Manny’s tough but could be overmatched
In what should be a reminder that nice guys finish last, especially in the ring, no one’s favorite fighter seems an almost sure thing to reestablish himself as the No. 1 boxer in the world – to hate or admire.
The odds reflect that there should be very little doubt as to the outcome between the come-backing Floyd Mayweather Jr. (pictured) and his gritty opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez. Mayweather has been off 21 months, but while he may be taking on the consensus No. 2 in the mythical pound-for-pound ratings in his return next Saturday, it hardly looks as if he is extending himself.
In the books, he is anywhere from a 4-1 to 5-1 favorite, hardly the stuff of major pay-per-view fights. Almost no one in the game gives Marquez much of a chance. I could write a few scenarios where the Mexican star could spring the major upset, but with half a heart and probably a smaller chunk of brains.
Marquez is good, damn good, but there’s a reminder on the Las Vegas undercard that he is not good enough, or big enough, for Mayweather.
The semifinal is a rematch of a unanimous draw earlier this year between featherweight champion Chris John and Rocky Juarez.
Marquez fought both of them five years ago. He won a clear and undisputed unanimous 12-round decision against Juarez, then took his 126-pound title to Indonesia and lost it to John. Whether it was simply home cooking that beat Marquez is academic. John was hardly in the class of Mayweather. He may have deserved the decision in Houston this year, but the hometown fan made it possible for Juarez to gain the draw. Thing is, it was Juarez who was dominant at the end. If it had been a 15-round fight, Juarez would have won. Anyone who is that close to John should not have much of a chance against Mayweather – who not only is several classes better than the Indonesian, but much, much smaller.
According to the tape, Mayweather is only an inch taller. In person, at press conferences, he fairly towers over Marquez. According to the tape, Mayweather has a five-inch reach advantage. More than that, he has an incalculable edge in hand speed. Plus, he is flat out bigger.
Mayweather, who was a welterweight champion when he announced he was retiring after soundly thrashing junior welterweight king Ricky Hatton in 2007, is giving only a three-pound credit to the former featherweight. Marquez did move up to win the lightweight title in a hard scrap with Joel Casamayor last year, and then wore down another 135-pound star in Juan Diaz in his last start in February.
Marquez is a terrific body puncher, but first he has to negotiate Mayweather’s reach and speed.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Michael Katz