I thought I knew a lot about Juan Manuel Marquez. He's been a fixture on HBO and American television for almost a decade. But in doing some research about his career, I realized there were a lot of facts about Marquez that surprised me.
#1. Prior to this year, Juan Manuel Marquez had not fought in Mexico since 1994.
This fact completely shocked me. Marquez is the least well known of the three standout Mexican featherweights of this century. His chief rivals Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera are, of course, the other two.
During their respective peaks, Barrera and Morales were thought of as the flashier fighters. They had the bigger names and participated in some of boxing's largest events. Yet Marquez has fought on this side of the Rio Grande more often than the other two champions. Neither Barrera nor Morales appeared in a fight that even approached the publicity of Mayweather-Marquez.
#2. Juan Manuel Marquez has fought 49 of his last 51 fights in America.
Again, I would bet a lot of money against this fact. Marquez is somehow seen as more "foreign" then either Barrera or Morales, yet there he is fighting almost every match in southern California, Vegas or Texas. Since 1994, the only time he boxed outside of America was against Chris John in Indonesia and earlier this year against Likar Ramos in Mexico. He's fought in America more than Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, yet far less seems to be known about him.
#3. According to boxrec.com, Marquez lives in Anaheim, California.
The surprises keep coming. This might help explain why he fights in America so often. It's certainly strange that after living in America and fighting in the U.S. for all of these years Marquez hasn't made an attempt to communicate much in English. Conceivably, it would have helped him become more marketable. True, when you’re that talented, people will still watch you fight, but Marquez probably left some additional money on the table. You don't have to speak English to become a huge fighter in America (e.g. Felix Trinidad, Roberto Duran), but it helps.
This residency issue may also help shed light on Marquez's relatively lukewarm support in the Mexican community. Barrera and Morales were always more popular with Mexicans and Mexican Americans than Marquez was. (However, Marquez has almost always trained in Mexico, and he's a property owner and familiar figure in Mexico City.) In a way, Marquez has fought a lot of his career between two countries.
In addition, Marquez's early ring identity was a contributing factor to his tepid Mexican support. In the beginning of his career, Marquez's cerebral boxing style, which focused on counterpunching and disciplined, methodical boxing, did not win too many fans in any country, with the exception of a few boxing purists.
As Marquez has aged, he has morphed into a more aggressive, boxer-puncher. He is now viewed as an extremely TV-friendly fighter; this is a shocking change from the Marquez of 2002. As his rivals started to lose their skills, Marquez’s Mexican support ramped up significantly.
#4. Since 1994, Marquez has not beaten an undefeated fighter.
I don't know which of these facts is the most surprising. This one has to be up there. It's kind of a misleading statistic because somehow Marquez has only faced three undefeated fighters in 17 years (Freddie Norwood, Chris John and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.). It's just amazing that with all of Marquez's accomplishments and with all of the champions he has beaten, he has never taken down a first-class, undefeated opponent. He had good opportunities against John and Norwood. He had no chance against Mayweather.
The last undefeated boxer Marquez beat was a guy named Roman Poblano, who finished his illustrious career with a sparkling 6-5-2 record. They fought 17 years ago.
Marquez may get another chance to beat an undefeated fighter if he were to face someone such as Brandon Rios or Tim Bradley. Both of these fights are possible, but not necessarily probable.
#5. Marquez has only beaten two fighters who deserve Boxing Hall of Fame consideration.
This is not necessarily a dubious distinction. You can only fight the people that are in front of you. I think Marco Antonio Barrera and possibly Joel Casamayor will make the Hall of Fame. Erik Morales, or the people handling Erik Morales, wanted no part of Marquez during Morales' prime. Many of Marquez's best wins (Juan Diaz, Michael Katsidis) were against very good fighters, but not great ones. That's not uncommon. Bernard Hopkins has wins against Hall of Famers Felix Trinidad, Oscar de la Hoya and an old Roy Jones Jr. That's the entire list. You can only fight in the era which you are in. Marquez has done more than enough to get in the Hall of Fame.
#6. Leading up to his fight with Chris John, Marquez was inactive for 10 months, which was at that point in his career, his longest period of inactivity.
This is a crucial factor that often gets overlooked in his loss to John. Marquez was going through promotional difficulties with Top Rank. Famously, he rejected a rematch with Manny Pacquiao to fight Chris John in Indonesia for $30,000. It's true that Top Rank didn't promote Marquez as vigorously as they could have. However, they did provide Marquez with his biggest fights and largest paydays to that point in his career.
The inactivity was devastating. Marquez's competitive advantage in the ring is his counterpunching; in this area, he's one of the best in the sport. However, without his vaunted timing, Marquez becomes a lot more beatable. In facing an elusive boxer such as John, Marquez's counterpunching needed to be spot-on. It wasn't and John won the decision fairly comfortably. Interestingly, neither John nor Marquez wasted too much time or energy calling for a second fight. They both went their separate ways.
#7. Juan Manuel Marquez survived three first-round knockdowns from Manny Pacquiao and fought back to earn a draw in their first fight.
We all know this statistic. And this fact is why Marquez is one of the greatest warriors in modern boxing. Marquez is one tough dude.