Juan Manuel Marquez ready to fight for crown
Appeal Sports Writer
STATELINE – Although he will face Thailand’s Terdsak Jandaeng for the vacant WBO Interim featherweight title Saturday at MontBleu Outdoor Sports Pavilion, Mexico City’s Juan Manuel Marquez has learned to temper his enthusiasm.
And for good reason.
Possessing a record of 44-3-1 with 33 knockouts, former featherweight champion Marquez could easily make the argument that he has had a tougher time with boxing’s various politics than he has had with his opponents.
During Prince Naseem Hamed’s reign atop the featherweight division, Marquez was ranked No. 1 by the WBO and was the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger to Hamed for well more than a year.
Rather than strip Hamed for failing to fight a mandatory challenger – as has been the custom of sanctioning bodies everywhere – the WBO let the Prince fight whom he wanted while Marquez sat on the sidelines.
After the WBA finally gave the then undefeated Marquez a title shot at Freddie Norwood, which Marquez lost in an ugly grappling match in 1999, the classy Mexican boxer had to go on waiting for another opportunity.
While continuing to dominate his opponents, Marquez had to wait until February 2003 before he was finally given a shot at the vacant IBF featherweight title against Manuel Medina, which he won.
Promoted by Top Rank, Marquez subsequently won a unification match against Derrick Gainer later that year and looked to be on the road to more recognition and bigger paydays.
In May 2004, Marquez pulled himself up from three first-round knockdowns and boxed his way to a draw with Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao, earning $650,000 and what looked to be a mega-payday with the Pac Man in a rematch.
Although he went on to defend his belts twice more – against Orlando Salido and Victor Polo – Marquez had a falling out with Top Rank and, one by one, the sanctioning bodies did what his opponents couldn’t do and took away his championships.
Wearing a black warm-up suit and signing an autograph for a waitress in a Starbucks Café inside of MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa on Tuesday, Marquez quietly spoke of the past.
“Basically the promoter (Top Rank’s Bob Arum) made all of the changes to happen,” Marquez said through his adviser-interpreter Jaime Quintana. “He had everything to do with it. He did whatever he wanted to do with me. To lose my two belts was painful. But the past is the past. It’s a new beginning for me.”
At least he hopes so. Marquez and his manager-trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain were offered $750,000 for a rematch with Pacquiao before being stripped of the belts, but spurned the offer.
After being stripped, Marquez accepted $30,000 to challenge the WBA’s newly appointed champion, Chris John, in Indonesia. Marquez lost a disputed decision to John in Borneo, Indonesia, in March.
Mike Duran, Marquez’s plastic surgeon described Marquez’s “first class treatment” in Indonesia.
“He flew from Mexico to Los Angeles,” Duran said. “The he flew to Japan, where he had to wait before being flown to Jarkarta. He took a three-hour flight to Borneo, where he was given a 1958 truck to drive four-and-a-half hours to the fight.”
Beristain, who has trained Juan Manuel and his brother, IBF bantamweight Rafael Marquez, since they were 13 or 14, was even more blunt in describing the state of affairs in Indonesia.
“Without a doubt the trip clearly affected him a little and it wasn’t enough for him to win that night,” Beristain said. “The decision was made by three delinquent guys who were judging the fight. It might have happened because Arum was hurt because we left him. We’ll leave that in the past. We’re not going to include him in Juan Manuel’s and Rafael’s future.”
Although Beristain didn’t want to talk any more of Arum, he still had something to say about him.
“It’s about the promoter for Juan Manuel,” he said. “He’s better than (Pacquiao, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera). But the promoters don’t want to put the fights together. Juan’s a great fighter, but in the eyes of the promoter, he doesn’t exist. Arum is in love with Morales. No other fighter exists in the division.”
At a press conference Thursday in Reno, Beristain further assailed Arum and explained his rationale for turning down the $750,000 payday to fight Pacquiao.
“He wanted to pay us with a big bag of tortillas,” Beristain said of Arum. “We were promised the purse would be $1.5 million for each guy. For the second fight (Arum) offered $750,000. It was like an insult. We knew there was more money out there for that fight. They wanted to keep half for themselves without throwing punches. It wasn’t fair.
“In five years under contract with Top Rank, they were hiding Erik Morales and the other fighters. It didn’t happen because Bob Arum is in love with Erik Morales as a fighter. He should have a picture (of Morales) on the headboard of his bed, praying to Erik. There is no other boxer for Top Rank than Erik Morales.”
Rafael signed with Gary Shaw, the promoter of this card. As of now Juan Manuel hasn’t, but is keeping his options open.
“Obviously I’m taking it into consideration,” Marquez said. “Right now I’m going to think twice about a promoter and make the best decision about who is the best promoter and what happened in the past. I don’t want to lose my title or (lose out) on great fights.”
Shaw said Thursday that he thinks he’s the right promoter for Marquez.
“There is such a thing as pride,” Shaw said of the spurned $750,000 offer. “They made $650,000 for the first fight. They’re telling the promoter that $750,000 is not the right number for the second fight.”
Shaw, who promotes Diego Corrales, used his two fights with Arum’s Jose Luis Castillo as an example.
“I paid Corrales much more money than Arum paid Castillo,” Shaw said. “You can figure out that Bob Arum and I were partners on the show and split it 50-50. How can my fighter make so much more money than (Castillo)? Nacho took a bad hit from the press for turning down $750,000 for $30,000. I don’t think that was a mistake. The only mistake was going over (to Indonesia) unprotected by a promoter.”
Marquez has more than his own interests at stake and has a wife – Erica – of nine years and two sons – 8-year-old Aldo and 1-year-old Juan Emilio – to look after.
“I’m a positive guy,” Marquez said. “But it affects me economically – big time. Losing those titles, you don’t get paid the same. But I’m a positive guy. I have plans in the future. That’s why I prepare hard. I want to make those dreams happen.”
Marquez did his training in Mexico City, doing his roadwork in the 18,000-foot elevation of Nevado de Toluca.
“We do the same thing always,” Marquez said of his regimen. “We work harder every time. We don’t change styles or anything. We don’t want to experiment. Everything is working excellent. It’s been fine since years ago.”
Beristain said he has complete confidence in Marquez.
“I see him very motivated to win this fight. It’s his dream to win this title,” Beristain said. “I can tell you that for me, technically as a boxer, he’s one of the best 126-pounders over the last 20 years in boxing.”
Marquez said he knows what to expect from southpaw Jandaeng, 24-1 (15).
“I watched him on tape. He’s like your usual oriental fighter,” Marquez said. “He’s very strong, fast. He takes a lot of punches. He’s going to do his best and come after me to win this fight for the title.”
Shaw said WBO champion Scott Harrison has four months to defend against the winner of Marquez-Jandaeng and if he doesn’t, the new interim champion would be elevated to full champion.
“I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity,” Marquez said. “It’s the right time, the right moment. There are good fights out there (Pacquiao, Morales, Barrera). That’s why I’m waiting for the right promoter. He’ll do his best to make those three fights happen. I’m going to be here (boxing) a while and I’m going to wait for good things to happen to me.”
For Marquez, that would be a refreshing thing.
What: Seven-fight boxing card, including IBF bantamweight champion Rafael Marquez vs. Silence Mabuza and Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Terdsak Jandaeng for the vacant WBO Interim featherweight title.
Where: MontBleu Outdoor Sports Pavilion
When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday (doors open at 4)
Television: Showtime, 9 p.m. (delayed broadcast)
Ticket info: $200 (ringside), $125, $75 (box seats), $40 (bleachers). Available at MontBleu box office and concierge desk, by calling (800) 648-3353 or by logging on to [ http://www.ticketmaster.com/ ]www.ticketmaster.com or http://www.montbleuresort.com