by Gary Purfield
Juan Manuel Marquez is the consummate “pro” boxer. Brandon Rios is the consummate “I don’t care what you think bad ass” fighter. While the two Mexican fighters (Marquez being Mexican and Rios Mexican-American) are very different individuals at very different points in their career, they share one common bond. Both are action fighters who make for crowd pleasing bouts. The two will share a stage Saturday night from separate venues on a quick fix HBO/Top Rank PPV. Both were gunning for bigger fights, but when those fell through Top Rank Promotions threw together what they could for each fighter to stay busy.
While Marquez is a sure thing for the hall of fame and on the tail end of his career, the upstart Rios is just starting to make a name for himself. Assuming both win on Saturday as they are expected, this could be a prelude to a very interesting crossroads bout between these two later this year.
Marquez is coming off yet again getting the short end of the stick in a very tight bout with superstar Manny Pacquiao. For the third time, Marquez fought on even or better ground with the Filipino star, but did not get the nod from the judges. He now has a draw and two losses against Pacquiao, but arguments can be made that he won all three fights. Marquez may want a fourth shot to defeat Pacquiao, but the Filipino takes on Tim Bradley on June 9 so he will have to probably wait until late 2012 for the opportunity.
Meanwhile, Rios was slated for a much anticipated showdown with speedy Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa, but the bout fell through due to contractual issues and Gamboa chose not to go through with the fight. Rios is coming of a tenth round knockout of John Murray where he won the fight, but lost his lightweight title on the scales due to not being able to make the 135lb limit.
So, left without big names or big fights, each man chose to take what was available and stay active instead of sitting around waiting for a better opportunity. Each fighter will get into the ring looking to stay active, be exciting, and stay relevant for bigger things later in the year.
Marquez will battle Serhiy Fedchenko in a Jr. Welterweight bout from the New Mexico City Arena in Mexico City. Marquez 53-6-1 (39 KO) had hoped to become the first Mexican to win titles in four weight classes, but was beaten to the punch when Erik Morales was gifted the WBC 140lb title last year against Pablo Cesar Cano. Marquez fights Fedchenko 30-1 (13 KO) for the interim WBO 140lb strap to get a piece of hardware in a fourth division. Whether winning the interim title makes him a four division champ is up for debate and a topic that won’t be tackled in this column. At least it places Marquez in a position to stay busy and relevant while waiting for a better opportunity.
Meanwhile, from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas Brandon Rios 29-0-1 (22 KO) will meet Richard Abril 17-2-1 (8 KO) for the interim WBA Lightweight title that went vacant when Rios lost the title on the scales before his last outing. Abril earned himself a shot at the tough Rios when he appeared at the scheduled Gamboa-Rios press conference. Abril began making comments to Rios and physically pushed the easily agitated brawler, setting the stage to be “Bam Bam’s” opponent when Gamboa dropped out.
As stated above both Marquez and Rios are expected to handle business and walk away with wins on Saturday. The payoff for everyone is probably not this Saturday, but what could transpire if everyone follows script. The PPV likely will not do overly well considering two factors– Neither fighter is expected to be challenged and fans may be tight with their cash with Mayweather-Cotto and Pacquiao-Bradley PPV’s on the horizon. The fact that Marquez and Rios both make for exciting fights no matter what will attract some hardcore followers, but don’t expect this to break the bank.
But if both win and they choose to meet each other in the summer, they will headline a card that will do far better in numbers. Marquez vs. Rios presents a fascinating style match and a true crossroads bout that will have hardcore fans licking their chops. Top Rank chief, Bob Arum has stated if both men win Saturday, a PPV of Marquez vs. Rios at Cowboys stadium on July 14 is a possibility. The two Mexican fighters will certainly draw a crowd in Dallas, TX and should do well in PPV buys as well for several reasons.
Boxing fans want action. Especially when they are going to shell out their hard earned money on PPV. Rios does not know how to be a in a bad fight. He comes forward, defense be damned, and looks to separate his opponents from their senses. Marquez was knocked early in his career for being too technical, but for the past five years he has become a no fear fighter that will stand and trade with opponents while using his technical skills to get the better of the action. These two sharing a ring is sure to provide fireworks.
The fight presents intriguing style contrasts that make it difficult to predict. One could easily argue the bigger, stronger, more physical Rios will be able to bulldoze Marquez and wear him down. If Juan Diaz had Marquez in trouble several years ago with relentless pressure, than surely the stronger Rios will be able to finish the job.
But not so fast. Marquez has proven time and time again that it is simply not that easy to run him over. Everyone thought for sure that at 147 Pacquiao would blow him out of the ring,yet their he was, the Mexican warrior-technician, standing his ground and sending the P4P star into the same confusion from eating right hands that Marquez produced at lower weights. In fact, it would be easy to argue that Marquez’s superior skill, ring IQ, experience, and numerous other intangibles would allow him to easily pick apart the rudimentary Rios to an easy middle rounds stoppage. Miguel Acosta had Rios hurt. So Marquez could do far better and finish the job.
The scripts are endless and the result is uncertain. Youth vs. experience. Intelligence goes against strength. The old adage skill vs. will. Marquez’s brilliant counter punching playing the immovable object while Rios’s pressure plays the irresistible force. Let them both win on Saturday. Then let them get it on July 14. A win-win for all involved, especially the fans.
Question, comment, agree, disagree, or anything at all, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for exclusives and other bonus material from Boxing’s Independent Media. You can also keep track of all the latest in boxing news and views by downloading our safe & free toolbar: