By Lee Payton
Photo © Marty Rosengarten / Ringsidephotos.com
I've become slightly obsessed with this fight. For the past month or so all of the irresistible ingredients have darted through my mind in search of the one detail that triggers a eureka moment. After many hours of deliberation I've come up with what I think will be a very close contest, but finding the winner's edge is proving to be an extremely difficult task.
As of August 31st, the underdog is looking pretty good. Considering that I flip-flop almost daily, I'm not exactly sure how much that's worth, but I would like to present my case for Juan Manuel Marquez defeating Floyd Mayweather anyway.
In Part One we'll have a look at the numbers.
Marquez is 36 years old. He has won 50 fights, 37 by KO, with 4 defeats and a draw. You wouldn't be out of line if you said that he won all of the 5 fights that didn't go his way. There is concern that the two wars with Manny Pacquiao, and taxing scraps with Barrera, Casamayor and Diaz have diminished the proud Mexican physically. Probably so, but we've been hearing about how he's lost his legs for awhile now. When do we stop waiting on him to get old and just appreciate the genius? You can always count on Marquez to show up 100% ready to fight, no matter what.
Mayweather is 32 years old. He is undefeated in 39 fights, with 25 wins coming inside the distance. His path to greatness has been decidedly easier than the man who will be standing across the ring from him. Partly because he hasn't fought the same type of opposition, but mostly because no one has been able to find him with their best stuff. He's just been too good.
Is he still that good though?
We haven't seen him in the ring since December of 2007 and for any athlete, that's a long time to go without competing.
What effect will the time off have on his reflexes? I expect that his performance will suffer less than most other fighters have just because of his work ethic and natural ability. However, I gotta think that his boots will feel just a tiny bit heavier than usual. The reaction time that used to be split second will be off by a fraction. Maybe the target is slightly bigger than usual for the sharpshooter.
Floyd has a handful of inches. The extra height and reach equates to a small bit of added safety to one of the best defenders of all time. The longer arms should give him the option to keep things at a comfortable range if he's getting touched up some. The small dimensional advantages he enjoys can be the difference between a landed punch and one that whizzes by.
There is also a well-documented weight issue. The negotiated limit of 144 is 9 lbs heavier than Marquez has ever been at a weigh-in. It doesn't mean that he has to be that heavy, but I think he will be anyway.
The more meaningful numbers are from their "unofficial" weights, which are collected the night of the fight. In the recent past, Marquez has been at 140 with spectacular results. I don't see how eating a little more and putting on a little muscle is going to make any drastic change.
Before his retirement, Mayweather was entering the ring on fight nights at around 147-149. While it's been almost 2 years since Floyd has stepped on a scale for a professional prize fight, we know that he is also an obsessive worker, and I think that we can expect him to step into the ring on September 18 somewhere around 150.
We're really only talking about a 5-7 pound difference between the two men. If you think about it, there is more of a gap in weight between Mayweather and Mosley, even though both are considered welterweights.
You cannot truly get a handle on this particular fight with any measuring device. While the numbers always have some say in the outcome of a fight, in my opinion, styles and intangibles will have much more influence on the result than the tale of the tape.
How will Floyd react to a great counter puncher with a boxing IQ that matches his? Can Marquez' intelligent aggression thwart many of PBF's opportunities to counter? What are their best punches going into the fight? What role will the crowd play? How will Mayweather handle the best fighter he's ever been in with?
We'll go over all that good stuff and more tomorrow... Read Part Two.
email Lee Payton
Monday, August 31, 2009
By Lee Payton