After knocking out Juan Diaz in the ninth round last night, world lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez decided to take a shot at current pound-for-pound ruler Manny Pacquiao by calling out Floyd Mayweather Jr., the semi-retired pound-for-pound king of old.
We'll get into it more in a moment, but for now let's hear from Golden Boy promoter Oscar de la Hoya:
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya said he fully expected Mayweather to return and said he’d work to arrange a Mayweather-Marquez fight or a Mayweather-Shane Mosley match. But he took a little jab at the man who defeated him in 2007 and said he doubted Mayweather would be up to the challenge.
“He will be back, absolutely,” De La Hoya said of Mayweather. “He will be back. If he wants to fight a Shane Mosley or a Juan Manuel Marquez, or any of our other fighters, they’re right here waiting for him.
“Juan Manuel is a dangerous, dangerous fighter for Mayweather, and I don’t see him taking it because he is so dangerous. Just like he won’t take Mosley. Absolutely, I have no doubt he is [looking for safe fights].”
There are so many things that run through my mind with this.
First of all, I will say that I agree with Oscar that Mayweather will not return for a risky fight. He'll look for something he is positive he will win. I can see him returning against Pacquiao, which might seem like the toughest fight for him, but it's not. Mayweather not only has some natural size on Manny, but Floyd is an underrated puncher with outrageous accuracy that has chewed up aggressive fighters in the past. Ricky Hatton, Diego Corrales and Arturo Gatti all got their asses handed to them by Mayweather.
I'm not saying Pacquiao isn't a better fighter than those guys, because skills-wise, he is. But none of them came very close to doing anything to Floyd. He walked through Gatti, dominated Chico, and put Hatton away when the time came for the cream to rise to the top.
Floyd, like many great defensive fighters, preys on aggression. Pacquiao would have to be a career-best to beat Mayweather. I'm also not saying I don't want to see that fight, because you're damn right I do.
The toughest fights for Floyd are genuine welterweights like Shane Mosley or Miguel Cotto. I think Andre Berto could give him a hell of a fight thanks to his natural speed and power. He may not have logged the miles that a Mosley has, but he's too fast for him to miss everything, no matter how sharp Floyd is.
As for the Marquez challenge, I think people are going to make too much of it. I love Juan Manuel Marquez and he's a phenomenal fighter, but naturally he's really a featherweight whose skills have carried him up to remarkable heights at 130 and 135 pounds. He's also in his mid-30s and gets hit more now than he used to. Juan Diaz pushed him hard before Marquez took him apart. Floyd Mayweather is not Juan Diaz. Marquez is great with the sneaky rights and the left hooks, and he's a very talented boxer.
But does he catch Floyd like he catches Diaz? No. Does he catch Floyd like he catches Pacquiao? No, because in this area, Floyd is undoubtedly the superior of everyone in the sport. No one skillfully avoids getting hit like Floyd Mayweather.
To me, the Marquez comment was more a shot at Pacquiao. Marquez has made no bones about the fact that he wants Pacquiao again because he feels he's beaten him twice and not been credited either time.
By saying, "Well, Pacquiao won't fight me, so I want Mayweather," he's digging at Pacquiao's pride. He knows he's not going to fight Floyd Mayweather. If Floyd signed off, I'm sure Juan Manuel would, too. For one thing it'd be a huge payday and a big-time fight, and say he won -- whoa. For another thing I'm certain JMM has the stones to go through with it.
But Mayweather cannot duck Juan Manuel Marquez because it's not a realistic fight. Just because Marquez (fighting at 135 pounds) called out Mayweather (who last fought at 147) doesn't mean Floyd is now on the hook to go, "Yes! Tremendous!" He gets more money to fight a whole mess of other guys if he chooses to fight at all.
It was a diversionary challenge. What Juan Manuel Marquez really said, "Hey, Pacquiao: Fight me again if you've got the guts." This ain't even about Mayweather.