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Every underdog has his day – the story of Juan Manuel ‘Dinamita’ Marquez

Many boxers exist on the periphery of fame and fortune, while their peers take easy fights against hand-picked opponents and hog the lime light. 

Juan Manuel Marquez 

True talent has a way of shining through though and Juan Manuel Marquez with blood, sweat and an iron will, has forced himself to the top of the pile and into most pundits Pound for Pound lists. 

There were some shocking injustices along the way though – dodged by Prince Naseem Hamed for 22 straight fights when Marquez was his mandatory challenger, robbed of victories on score cards in his two fights with Manny Pacquiao (who has since avoided a third instalment of their saga like the plague). 

It was those two fights with Pacquiao that perversely opened Marquez up to a wider audience. No one before or since has caused so many problems for Pacquiao. Marquez was knocked down three times in the opening round of their first fight and dragged himself off the canvas to fight back to a draw! That’s a phenomenal accomplishment. In their second fight Marquez was robbed by the Vegas judges – shamefully in my opinion. 

Juan Manuel Marquez Manny Pacquiao

A third fight with Pacquiao coming?

While Pacquiao went on to become the biggest name in boxing, Marquez went back to what he knows best – tough fights against hard opposition. Marquez has brought something new to the table at this stage of his career – the knockout finish. In my previous post on the uppercut punch I flagged up Marquez’s devastating use of this to close the show on Juan ‘Baby Bull’ Diaz. 

Marquez’s last fight against Floyd Mayweather should tell fans more about his desire to face the best regardless of seemingly monumental advantages given to his opponents – Marquez was moving up 2 full weight classes to challenge Mayweather – who flouted the 145 pound catchweight to gain even more advantage. 

Most of the attention in the run up to the fight for Marquez was on his declaration of drinking his own urine while training to ‘preserve nutrients’. While that would not be my choice of post workout beverage…each to their own I suppose! Mayweather recorded a wide points victory in that fight and watching I wonder whether Marquez had simply bitten off more than he could chew – Mayweather looked enormous next to him. 

Juan Manuel Marquez Urine Therapy
The infamous urine ‘therapy’

Dinamita’s future is still to be decided – he is the current WBO and WBA world lightweight champion, rumors abound that he is poised to move up to light welterweight to chase Pacquiao once again for another fight. I hope he succeeds in securing that fight. Whatever happens Marquez is a one of the best boxers walking the earth today – a true ring general and a Mexican legend in the making. 

What more can you ask for? 

Julio Cesar Chavez – El Gran Campeón Mexicano!

Picture a moment in time if you will: it’s the final seconds of the 12th round of a WBC and IBF  light welterweight championship title fight in Las Vegas, 1990.  

Julio Cesar Chavez

El Gran Campeón Mexicano

Eleven savage rounds have already passed and Julio Cesar Chavez is losing the fight, the judges, everyone watching and Chavez himself knows it. All his opponent Meldrick Taylor has to do is remain standing and he wins the belts and more importantly takes Chavez’s unbeaten record of 68 wins away from him.  

With 20 seconds left on the clock Chavez who has been stalking his man doggedly throughout the entire fight connects the right hand he had been waiting to land all night and wipes Taylor out. When Taylor staggers to his feet the referee Richard Steele waves the fight off with Taylor in no state to continue.  

Controversial as the referees decision was, for me Chavez showed the virtues in that fight that he had displayed throughout his ring entire career – aggression, pressure and a mindset of coming to battle – to walk through all that was thrown at him and destroy!  

Chavez finally retired in his twenty-fifth year as a professional boxer with a record of 107 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws, with 86 knockouts. He holds records for most successful defenses of world titles – 27! and most title fights – 37! 

Chavez also has the longest undefeated streak in boxing history. His record was 89-0-1 going into his first loss to Frankie Randall and had an 87 fight win streak until his controversial draw with Whitaker. 

For those keen to know more about Chavez track down Diego Luna’s recent film: 

Hands of stone – the legend of Roberto Duran

 

Some fighters become legends, Roberto Duran is one such fighter.

Roberto Duran

He is viewed as the greatest lightweight of all time, but he won championships in four weight classes:  lightweight (1972–79), welterweight (1980), junior middleweight (1983–84) and middleweight (1989). The belts and championships only tell a tiny fraction of the force of nature that was “Manos de Piedra” or hands of stone.

Roberto Duran Lightweight Champion

Duran was a tough guy both inside the ring and outside. Raised in the streets of Panama he fought his way out of poverty – literally fighting for meals. His legend started early with a remarkable story of a young Duran knocking a horse with a single punch. Whether that story is pure urban legend it hardly matters but it emphasises the remarkable strength that Duran possessed in both hands.

Duran’s fighting style had it all – pure machismo in action, brawling, in fighting, taking shots and constantly coming forward to walk his man down. His actual boxing skills and technical ability are too often overlooked in favour of his tough guy style. Duran benefited from existing in an era of greats – Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler to name just three in the middleweight golden age of the 1980’s.Roberto Duran Training

Duran’s brutal contest with Leonard – where he took Sugar Ray out of his slick boxing game plan and brought him to a street fight was a classic, but it was their rematch got all the intention though. Leonard refused that time to be drawn into a slug fest and punched and moved to the total disgust of Duran. The eventual “no mas” where Duran turned his back on Leonard and walked out of the fight created criticism that dogged Duran for many years. To Duran though the macho side of boxing was the most important part – he refused to engage Leonard in a slick boxing skills contest – he came to fight, to go to war. He meant it.

Duran fought on well past his prime, packed on weight between fights in a way that Ricky Hatton would emulate years later. He was written off many times but flashes of his brilliance still remained. One such night was June 6, 1983: when he brutalised then knocked out Davey Moore in the eighth round to win the WBA Junior Middleweight Championship. This was at a time when Duran was considered by all to be past his best and frankly washed up. You can see some of that fight in the video below.

I think Duran’s own quote sums his up best:

“There’s only one legend. That’s me.”
— Roberto Duran

Sweet as sugar, Ray Robinson the greatest fighter of all time

Think of boxing superstars and you probably think of Muhammad Ali. When you think of Ali what is it that sticks in your mind? The Ali shuffle? The public persona? It’s no secret that Ali took more than just a touch of inspiration from a certain Walker Smith Jnr, better known as Sugar Ray Robinson calling him “The king, the master, my idol”. 

So what is so special about Sugar Ray, why all the fuss? 

Sugar Ray Robinson

Sugar Ray Robinson

Put simply he personified the sweet science  – knockout power in both hands, dazzling hand speed, stunning footwork, brash super confidence, he knew every punch in the booking text-book and could throw them all, from any angle at any time with explosive power. 

He was so good the whole notion of a pound for pound best boxer was created just for Sugar Ray – that’s how special he was. 

If you have seen the great film Raging Bull you may remember Robinson’s epic battles with Jake laMotta, they actually fought six times, with Sugar Ray winning five of the six battles. 

Robinson retired from boxing with a record of 175-19-6 with 110 knockouts in 200 professional bouts. If you compare that to todays great fighters who tend to retire after around 50 professional fights that will give you some context to this achievement. 

I genuinely struggle to put into words how good Sugar Ray Robinson was, to watch him in action is to see something that perhaps only comes around once in history. 

Words like genius and legend are banded around so often these days that they have lost their impact, but Sugar Ray really personified both traits. 

Watch this video – really do watch it – if you’ve never seen him in action before you are in for something very special indeed: