In the first of a new series entitled ‘Mythical Match-Ups’, Donal O’Doherty pits two boxing stars against each other. Up first it’s Juan Manuel Marquez vs Julio Cesar Chavez.
Juan Manuel Marquez’s illustrious career may be coming to an end. Though the great Mexican warrior is still battling on, with a recent victory over Mike Alvarado, it’s evident based on recent performances that he is slowing down somewhat and becoming less effective.
However, what Marquez achieved during his career is incredible and surely secures him a place on many an all- time great list. He’d certainly be on this writer’s, and in the top fifty at that.
Marquez has a graceful style with a scrupulous emphasis on counter-punching. However, when he counters it isn’t just with single punches. The Mexican is (or was) capable of unleashing a lethal flurry of shots from several different angles ranging from crunching liver shots to the most elegant of uppercuts.
The great Mexican rose to superstardom after his audacious comeback against Manny Pacquiao in 2004. When the lightning fast Filipino stormed across the ring in the first round to knock Marquez down three times and break his nose everyone watching assumed the end was nigh.
However, Marquez even though bleeding profusely and surely in incredible pain battled on to a draw, helping to produce one of the best fights of the modern era.
He would become renowned for such courage, and in particular battling back from adversity as Juan Diaz found out so cruelly in 2009. The ‘baby bull’ having gone on a rampage early was tamed brilliantly by the old master with a single well timed and deadly accurate uppercut in round nine.
But the Mexican’s finest hour surely came in 2012 when he discharged a super flush shot to a rapidly advancing Manny Pacquiao, dropping the Filipino for the count of ten and bringing some closure to their epic rivalry
In the other corner we haveJulio Cesar Chavez; the ultimate Mexican fighter. Chavez was similar to Marquez in the sense thatboth were filled with an unyielding Mexican pride, but in terms of style they were very different.
Chavez’s prowess inside the squared circle revolved around him marching forward and constantly trying to trap his opponent on the ropes. Once trapped, the opponent was subjected to an assortment of viciously accurate punches to the head and body centred around a venomous kidney shot.
Chavez, similar to a lot of Mexican boxers didn’t possess natural one punch knock-out power but what he did have was incredible stamina and superb accuracy on each shot.
Chavez’s art of relentless pressurising was perhaps displayed most perfectly in his eleven round destruction of Edwin Rosario in 1987. Chavez literally sat on Rosario’s chest for the entire fight crushing any resolve the Puerto Rican had before finishing him in the eleventh.
His 1990 fight with American Meldrick Taylor was the stuff of legend. Taylor boxed smartly for much of the fight, astutely peppering the Mexican with rapid combinations leaving Chavez befuddled. But Chavez never gave up and continued to apply relentless pressure for the entire fight.
The bout had a somewhat controversial ending with it being stopped with just two seconds remaining in the final round. Taylor, having taken a horrible beating in that round due the extreme pressure Chavez was exerting, finally succumbed and the referee had no choice but to call a halt.
Perhaps Chavez’s most impressive asset was his phenomenal punch resistance, his chin seemingly having been chiselled from granite, was a simply indestructible shield for the majority of his career.
Speculating on a hypothetical match up between Marquez and Chavez is a very intriguing matter. Both Mexican, and both possessing unique styles that would seemingly have blended very well.
The fight would likely go the distance, with both men having success in parts. Chavez with his body attack, Marquez with his counters.
Although both men were not known for starting fast, this writer believes Marquez would control the fight early. However, the pressure would eventually start to take effect with Chavez pinning Marquez against the ropes by round seven and dispensing his array of body shots.
The fight would be a grueling affair, with both men having to take their fair share of punches over the course of twelve rounds. Although this fighter regards Chavez to be the greatest Mexican pugilist ever to grace the ring, Marquez has a style that could nullify his superb offence to a degree over the course of the fight.
Even while being trapped on the ropes, Marquez would be capable of countering Chavez with his trademark uppercut followed by straight rights.
With both men having moments of success, ultimately Marquez would land enough punches to snatch a razor thin decision in what would be an epic encounter.
Prediction: Juan Manuel Marquez on a tight decision.
Donal O’Doherty, Pundit Arena.