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Juan Manuel Marquez won't let Floyd Mayweather Jr. bore you to death

There are few countries with stronger traditions in boxing than Mexico. Juan Manuel Marquez has inherited the throne as the country's best fighter in recent years. (AP Photo)
There are few countries with stronger traditions in boxing than Mexico. Juan Manuel Marquez has inherited the throne as the country's best fighter in recent years. (AP Photo)

It is a legacy, a tradition, and an honor. In Mexico, they don't make many boxers. But they make a lot of great fighters.

It's not to say that they are unskilled brawlers or crazy sluggers hell-bent on knockouts. Far from it, in fact. The skill level of the best Mexican fighters of this generation is outstandingly high. Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Israel Vazquez, and many more have both thrilled us with amazing guts and wowed us with their pure talent and boxing brains. For as action-crazed as all three men could get, they were/are also very good boxers.

The most talented of them all, however, may be the man who more inherited the throne than anything else. Juan Manuel Marquez was seen for years as a great fighter that couldn't get over the hump, couldn't win the big one. Losses to Freddie Norwood and Chris John derailed his career one step before he could perhaps start creeping further into the public's line of sight, and a draw with Manny Pacquiao -- while great for Marquez's career and notoriety -- gave the notion more weight.

It was a March 2007 win over Mexican hero Barrera that finally put him over the top. While the fight was closer than the judges' scorecards and a bit of an underrated mini-classic, with both warriors bringing their best, it was Marquez who came out the victor, and it felt overdue. Finally, Juan Manuel Marquez could get the credit his skills so richly deserved. And it's not that he didn't get any credit; he got plenty. But he deserved even more.

Barrera would retire later in 2007, and unretire the next year. Barrera's rival and fellow Mexican fighting icon Erik Morales also retired in 2007, and plans to come back this year. Barrera and Morales stepping down could have hurt Mexico's boxing reputation to some degree, but they left the country's fighting pride in good hands. Marquez and his brother Rafael along with Rafael's rival Israel Vazquez carried the torch, putting on Fight of the Year candidates and cementing themselves among the sport's best pound-for-pound.

After their third war in 2008, Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez both took a break. Top-level boxing in Mexico took a serious blow in January of this year when Antonio Margarito not only got demolished by Shane Mosley, but was also disgraced, and is now seen as a cheater by the vast majority of the boxing audience.

With one hero's name in the mud and two more on the shelf, Juan Manuel Marquez stepped into the ring on February 28 with Mexican-American Juan Diaz, and the two went to war. Marquez eventually knocked Diaz out in the ninth round of an instant classic, and he immediately called out Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Capt I thought then that it was really more of a bait tactic, trying to lure Manny Pacquiao into the third fight Marquez was so desperately chasing. There was no reason for Juan Manuel to be fighting at 135 pounds other than to chase Manny and try to force his hand. Now he was calling out the former welterweight champion?

To my surprise, Mayweather-Marquez is merely two weeks away now. I have been a fairly harsh critic of the fight, its promotion, and pretty much everything else.

But I do not believe it will be a bad fight, as some do. I don't think Juan Manuel Marquez has a bad fight in him anymore. As he's aged and slowed, he's become one of the sport's most reliable must-see men. And with his role as such an underdog and the physical disadvantages he'll face (size, speed, power, defensive acumen -- pretty much the whole nine yards), chances are good Marquez will find himself in a hole against Mayweather on the scorecards.

And will Marquez be content to just not get knocked out and rack up a points loss?

Not a chance. He's just not wired that way.

This fight may very well end with Juan Manuel Marquez flat on his back, knocked silly a la Ricky Hatton when he faced Floyd. But you can bet your bottom dollar that Marquez isn't going to let this turn into one of Floyd's yawn-inducing clinics. If it gets him knocked out, Juan Manuel Marquez will make this a fight.

And the great Mexican tradition will carry on.

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