Over the course of a month, five top-level boxers -- four of which will someday be enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame -- hung up their gloves. Juan Manuel Marquez, Wladimir Klitschko, Timothy Bradley, Robert Guerrero and Shane Mosley all made news by retiring, seemingly one after the other. After spending years upon years inside the squared circle, these boxers decided that it was time to step away from the Sweet Science for good, their legacies cemented. Sherdog.com will reflect on each one of them with individual features outlining their best moments as prizefighters.
One of the greatest fighters to ever emerge from Mexico, Juan Manuel Marquez accomplished everything he set out to achieve in what was a remarkable career. “Dinamita” captured world titles in four different weight classes and took on the very best opponents the sport had to offer, some more than once. A Mexico City native, Marquez compiled a brilliant 56-7-1 record with 40 KOs. Marquez is considered one the greatest counterpunchers the sport ever saw.
Deadlocked with ‘Pac-Man’
After falling short against Freddie Norwood in his first world title bout in September 1999, Marquez rebounded four years later and finally hoisted a championship belt above his head. He took on fellow Mexican warrior Manuel Medina for the IBF featherweight crown and knocked him out in the seventh round. He added the WBA featherweight title to his collection with a win over Derrick Gainer nine months later and then met eventual rival Manny Pacquiao for the first time on May 8, 2004. Marquez was dropped three times in the opening round at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Just when everyone watching thought he was finished, he rallied to outbox the Filipino superstar down the stretch. While many observers felt he did enough to warrant a decision, Marquez settled for a draw and retained his WBA and IBF championships.
During his time as one of the best boxers in the world, Marquez was often overshadowed by the exploits of fellow Mexican greats Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. Though he never faced Morales, “Dinamita” went to war with Barrera for the WBC super featherweight championship on March 17, 2007 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Barrera was still near the height of his powers at the time, but Marquez made him look old across 12 rounds. He picked apart Barrera from the start, taught a master class in boxing and claimed a surprisingly one-sided unanimous decision. Many pundits had long felt Marquez was the best of Mexico’s Big Three, and they saw his victory over Barrera as proof.
Fight of the Year
Though he will not go down as an all-time great, Juan Diaz was a terrific fighter who always brought the heat. Marquez stood toe-to-toe with the “Baby Bull” on Feb. 28, 2009 at the Toyota Center in Houston, each man giving as much punishment as he took. Diaz lived up to his nickname, as he charged at the more experienced Marquez over and over again. Marquez proved too slick and crafty to fall into his traps and eventually stopped Diaz in the ninth round of what was later named The Ring magazine’s “Fight of the Year” for 2009.
Cuba has produced its share of accomplished pro boxers, none better than Joel Casamayor. The 1992 Olympic gold medalist was 36-3-1 entering his showdown with Marquez on Sept. 13, 2008 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and he had just closed out a trilogy with a second win over the late Diego Corrales. Marquez made him look like an amateur. He thoroughly outboxed Casamayor, who enjoyed slugging with big punchers. Marquez was flawless, systematically dismantled his Cuban counterpart and turned up the heat in the latter stages of their matchup. He knocked out Casamayor in the 11th round, becoming the first man to ever stop him.
A Punch to End All Debate
Marquez battled Pacquiao to a draw in their first meeting, lost by split decision in their rematch and then wound up on the wrong side of a majority verdict in their third encounter. Many pundits felt he won all three fights. When Marquez faced “Pac-Man” for the fourth time on Dec. 8, 2012 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, he made sure the judges played no role in the outcome. He dropped “Pac-Man” with an overhand right in the third round, only to see Pacquiao seize control of the match. He staggered Marquez on a number of occasions and appeared to be within reach of a stoppage, until his rival ducked under the second of two right jabs and unloaded with a crushing right hand. An out-cold Pacquiao absorbed the full impact of the blow and fell face first to the canvas. It was the signature moment in Marquez’s career.
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