Marquez Proves Warrior Spirit Again in Knockout of Diaz

Juan Manuel Marquez proved once again why the word warrior best describes him.

As he did twice against Manny Pacquiao, Marquez was able to endure incredible punishment while maintaining a quick pace throughout. Unlike his fights with Pacquiao, Marquez found away to put Juan Diaz down for the count before the judges had their say winning by technical knockout in the final minute of the ninth round.

The win unified the world lightweight title with the vacant WBO and WBA versions of the title being decided as well as Diaz’s IBO lightweight title being on the line.

With all of the talk lately about Pacquiao and Marquez being 1 and 2 pound-for-pound in the world, I want to see a third fight between these two badly. I’ve already mentioned this before and will continue to voice my desire for these two to hook it up again as both times they have been fight of the year candidates with their second fight being my pick for fight of the year for boxing in 2008, and their first fight would’ve been fight of the year in ’04 had it not been for the finale of the Barrera/Morales trilogy snatching it away late that year. Both Marquez and Pacquiao have expressed interest in fighting Floyd Mayweather, but I still don’t see that happening until next year at the earliest as Floyd hasn’t made a peep yet about fighting either, and that’s a bad sign for either fight coming to fruition. With Marquez also voicing his intent to move up in weight as Pacquiao has already done, a fight between the two seems even more likely unless Shane Mosley steps in wanting a big first title defense or Hatton should pull a major upset in May despite the fact that Vegas oddsmakers may still have Pacquiao as an underdog the same way they did in December when he faced De La Hoya.

Diaz was able to control the early goings of the fight and despite Marquez beginning to assert his will later on, Diaz was able to lure Marquez into the ropes throughout dishing out punishment along the way.

The fifth round was Diaz’s best of the fight as that was the round that not only saw blood begin to flow from a cut above Marquez’s right eye, but was the round where Diaz showed a vicious streak and was probably going for the knockout raining bombs down on Marquez throughout. However by this point, Marquez wasn’t going to go down.

Diaz would also be cut on his right eye, his coming in the eighth round. Diaz’s cut would be more costly as it was on his right eyelid and caused blood to begin to go into Diaz’s eye giving Marquez the opening he needed.

Like both fights with Pacquiao, Marquez stumbled at the beginning putting himself in a hole on the scorecards, but was able to pick it up in the middle rounds; this has been almost the theme of Marquez’s career.

The sheer volume of activity in this fight was phenomenal even considering the two fighters involved. Both men passed personal best for punches thrown with Marquez breaking his personal best for punches thrown and Diaz passing the record for most power punches against Marquez in Marquez’s career. Diaz landed 161 power punches, but Marquez was able to land 190 with both men hitting above 30% of their power punches and Marquez landing his at an astounding 47% accuracy. Each man threw over 700 punches in the fight (Marquez with 732 attempts and Diaz with 781) adding up to the most punches thrown by two fighters in a big fight in quite some time.

Fight of the year is a proclamation that might be a bit early. However, there are likely to be few fights that will reach the intensity, activity, and most importantly, the professionalism displayed in this fight. The one person who didn’t have to work on this night turned out to be the referee as there were next to no clinches during the whole fight, no inadvertent low-blows, nothing that caused the ref to stop the action even for the moment. On that note, the fight was one that featured constant action as even when the two weren’t duking it out on the ropes, both showed stupendous technical prowess preventing any dull moments.

While every round had its action, it was the opening round that is my pick at this moment for round of the year, already eclipsing anything from the Berto/Collazo fight in January. An incredible pace for the start of a fight with Marquez nearly going down and being punished against the ropes throughout the round all the while continuing to fight back with everything he had. This is the first round mind you. The fight continued the quick pace, but only the knockout matched the intensity and excitement of that opening round.

That is not to say that the rest of the fight was an afterthought as I thought Marquez was done more than once during this fight only to see him comeback time after time. Diaz put on the best performance of his career displaying the raw intensity that almost seemed lacking in his fights last year with Nate Campbell and Michael Katsidis. Jim Lampley said in the closing moments of HBO’s broadcast of the fight, “good luck to the rest of the sport in producing something that good or that significant.” That is probably the best way to describe this fight other than the way I describe this fight: Marquez/Diaz was Hagler/Hearns if they had paced themselves.

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