With Top Rank letting it be known that they won't pursue negotiations for a May 5 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr, Juan Manuel Marquez suddenly finds himself in arguably the greatest position of his career.
In the last two years, Marquez has become a bigger star than most would ever have thought possible. A bad loss in 2009 to Mayweather was expected and didn't really hurt his stock, simply made him more well-known to more casual fans. Yes, he was awful that night, but he was the huge underdog.
On Saturday, Marquez gave Manny Pacquiao all he could handle in a fight where Pacquiao was favored by lines of -800, -1000 and -1100. Simply put, Juan Manuel Marquez was not supposed to be competitive in that fight, and he damn sure wasn't supposed to win. But once again, he fought Pacquiao tooth-and-nail, and gave himself at least the argument that, for a third time, he was Pacquiao's superior in the ring.
So now here he is, a bigger and probably more respected star than ever. Juan Manuel Marquez is a hotter topic than he's been at any point in his career. And Top Rank wants, maybe needs, him to fight Manny Pacquiao again.
When the fight was signed, Top Rank was able to lure Marquez away from Golden Boy Promotions by offering him a guaranteed $10 million for a fourth fight should Marquez upset Pacquiao on November 12. Golden Boy would have been able to take the hit and match the $5 million Marquez got on Saturday; they would have found some fight to give him $5 million for, and even if they had to take a bath with it, they secured him from going over to Bob Arum and fighting Manny Pacquiao.
But Arum and Co. put the $10 million rematch guarantee in, and since Marquez wasn't signing up to lose to Manny, he took it. Perhaps in his mind it was a cool $10 million he'd rake in in 2012 for another chance to beat his greatest rival.
He lost a squeaker on Saturday. But now that doesn't matter, and if it means enough to Top Rank and to Manny Pacquiao to secure this fourth fight, Juan Manuel Marquez should demand and receive that $10 million.
After all, they want this for a reason. And without Marquez, obviously, the fight can't happen.
Boxing promoters are largely painted as the evil wealthy fat cats pulling the strings and screwing the fighters who bust their asses. Often times, that's true (more or less). Sometimes, it's overstated. But this isn't even about that. In my view, Marquez, at 38 and with retirement not far off, should bend them over the barrel and demand what I'm sure he feels is rightfully his in the first place. It's not so much that I want him to stick it to the man, it's that I think he deserves it. Top Rank obviously thinks he deserves another shot. Pacquiao clearly wants it.
Make it happen. If there is to be a fourth fight, give one of the best fighters of this generation, and Pacquiao's great equal, his $10 million payday. He's earned it, if he wants it.