Bold Risk: Juan Manuel Marquez Tunes Up for Manny Pacquiao on Saturday

Juan Manuel Marquez and Nacho Beristain are back to work this Saturday in Mexico for a tune-up bout leading to Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

For those who have been living under a rock, Manny Pacquiao will be fighting again on November 12, and he'll be facing current lightweight king Juan Manuel Marquez for a third time. The two met in 2004 (a disputed draw) and 2008 (a disputed Pacquiao split decision win), both Fight of the Year candidates. Those fights were at 126 and 130 pounds -- the third matchup will be held with a 144-pound catchweight.

Whatever you think of Pacquiao vs Marquez III, it's happening, unless something crazy goes down this Saturday in Mexico, when the 37-year-old Mexican warrior suits up to tune up against Colombia's Likar Ramos. Marquez has taken the fight so that he won't enter the duel with Pacquiao facing a year out of the ring and possibly very rusty. Should he defeat Ramos as expected, he has four months to get ready for the fight he's been craving for over three years.

This means a few things:

  1. Marquez really is not going to lose, but if he does, the Pacquiao fight and a carer-best payday are off the table. And you could mark it down as an early and tough to top Upset of the Decade contender.
  2. He better hope he can win impressively, because the fight is televised in Mexico and will be seen the world over soon after, whenever it hits the internet. If he looks bad, Pacquiao vs Marquez III could be tough to sell.
  3. He cannot afford to get a bad cut or any other injury. This is really the biggest and most worrisome risk of this fight.

So who is Likar Ramos? Ramos is a 25-year-old Colombian with a soft record of 24-3 (18 KO). Here's a very quick profile:

  • Height: 5'7"
  • Southpaw
  • Turned pro in 2005
  • Notable losses to Jorge Solis and Walter Estrada, and also a DQ loss to Edinson Garcia.
  • Best wins are against Angel Granados and Ernesto Morales, neither of which is a particularly good win.
  • Combined record of opponents he's beaten (record coming into the fights with Ramos): 104-186-7

In Ramos' loss to Jorge Solis, he was destroyed before being knocked out on a body shot in the seventh round. Ramos was also down in the third and sixth rounds, and got a little dirty, being docked a point for a rabbit punch following the sixth round knockdown. Add in the fact that he's been disqualified before, and there is an on-paper worry that he could use some dirty tactics to rough up Marquez, and something like a headbutt could open a bad cut that could in theory wind up costing Marquez a $5 million payday. The Pacquiao fight is not going to move -- Manny's fighting on November 12 against Marquez or someone else, with Mike Jones' name having been floated as a potential replacement should disaster strike Marquez on Saturday.

I think Brick has the right idea in his weekly TV schedule, saying, "With a high eight-figure payday looming for JMM, I can't imagine he'll fool around with Ramos." That's about what I'd expect. Brick's taking Marquez in three, and that sounds about right to me. If he wants to, he can simply manhandle Ramos. Hopefully he's just looking to make sure he isn't rusty in November, and not so much going in there to get rounds, because toying in this fight would be very ill-advised.

Bad Left Hook will be trying to bring you live coverage of Marquez vs Ramos this Saturday, not because it's much of a fight, but simply because the risk being taken by Marquez here is huge in so many ways, and any number of things could be disastrous for the lightweight champ.

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