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Recap of 2009 Match of the Year: Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Juan Diaz I

HBO World Championship Boxing Recap

 

February 28, 2009

Toyota Center-Houston, Texas

 

 

 

The event has drawn a crowd of 14,571 fans and reportedly set a new record gate for a boxing event in the state of Texas. However, it should still be well below the gate for WrestleMania XXV on April 5.

 

 

 

The Ring/WBA/WBO/IBO Lightweight (135 pounds) 12-Round Championship Unification Match:

Juan Manuel Marquez (49-4-1, 36 KO's, 134.25 pounds) (The Ring) vs. Juan Diaz (34-1, 17 KO's, 134.5 pounds) (IBO)

 

Diaz' won the IBO Championship in his last match when it was vacant in a controversial 12-round decision victory over Michael Katsidis on the same show that saw Juarez knockout Barrios. Diaz appeared to completely dominate Katsidis in the match. The Houstonian who has historically been more of a brawler that wins by overwhelming his opponents with an accumulation of punches, put on possibly the best boxing display of his career in this match. By the end of round 7, Katsidis face had been disfigured by cuts and swelling. Lennox Lewis, who was doing color commentary of the event from ringside for HBO, scored the match 120-108 for the Houstonian. However, while the judges' appeared unreasonably generous to the hometown boxer, Juarez, in the first match, they seemed ridiculously biased against Diaz in this match. Diaz pulled the match out via split decision, with the deciding scorecard going for the local boxer by the score of 115-113. The Houstonian nearly doubled Katsidis in total connects 296-to-147, and had more then double the total connect percentage 37-to-17 making this scoring seem incomprehensible. A full recap of that match can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2009/3/11/recap-of-juan-diaz-vs-michael-katsidis.htmlThis title had last been held by Isaac Hlatswayo who vacated the belt to campaign at 140 pounds. Diaz is making his first defense of this title.

Marquez won The Ring Championship in his last match from Joel Casamayor via technical knockout at 2:55 of round 11 on September 13, 2008 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The native of Mexico City, Mexico dropped Casamayor twice, forcing the referee to move in and stop the contest. Marquez is making his first defense of this title.

The WBA Lightweight Super Championship** and WBO Championship are both vacant. They were both previously held by Nate Campbell who was stripped of them when he failed to make weight for his match with Ali Funeka on February 14.

Marquez had a solid amateur career that included 2 Golden Gloves tournament victories.

Marquez is probably best known for being the top rival Manny Pacquiao. The two boxers have had 2 matches, both ending in controversial decisions. In the first match, the boxers went to a 12-round draw on May 8, 2004 at the MGM Grand. Pacquiao dropped Marquez 3 times in round 1 winning the round, 10-6. However, Marquez would rally to only lose 1 of the remaining 11 rounds on one of the judges scorecards taking the match, 115-110. Another judge believed Pacquiao was dominant scoring the match for the Filipino boxer, 115-110. The third judge, believed Marquez was the better boxer for the remainder of the match, but could not overcome the knockdowns. That judge scored the match 113-113, hence the draw.

Pacquiao and Marquez would meet again on March 15, 2008 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to determine The Ring Champion at 130 pounds. The highly anticipated rematch set the PPV record for a boxing event headlined by boxers under 140 pounds. Pacquiao hit Marquez with a combination in round 3 that scored the knockdown that would prove decisive in this match. However, Marquez had Pacquiao in serious trouble starting in round 6. Marquez had the southpaw's powerful left hand timed and the very aggressive Pacquiao for possibly the first time in his career appeared hesitant in the ring. Pacquiao became completely unwilling to throw a punch with his left hand. He would wind up to throw a punch with his left hand, then mentally check himself and not let the punch go. At this same time, Marquez' powerful right hand had started to cause severe swelling around the left eye of Pacquiao inhibiting the Filipino's vision. Pacquiao was visibly frustrated in the ring and in his corner after round 6, and then things got worse for him. In round 8, a punch cut Pacquiao badly over his right eye, as the swelling worsened around his left eye. The cut was dripping blood directly into Pacquiao's eye and he was having severe difficulty seeing. Pacquiao lost focus on Marquez and began to worry about the blood effecting his vision. Marquez immediately changed his strategy to fit the wounded Pacquiao. The Mexican stopped throwing counter right hands, but instead started aiming left hands at Pacquiao's injured eye. Marquez finished the match landing more total punches and power punches then Pacquiao, but losing via split decision. At this point, Pacquiao and his promoter Bob Arum have said they do not want anything to do with Marquez, again. A full recap of that match can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2008/12/9/recap-of-manny-pacquiao-vs-juan-manuel-marquez-ii.html

Marquez is The Ring Champion at 135 pounds and The Ring's number 2 ranked boxer in the world, pound-for-pound, behind only Pacquiao.

Diaz was an outstanding amateur boxer who attempted to qualify for the 2000 United States Olympic boxing team. However, he would have only been 17-years-old at the start of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Olympic rules require a boxer to be 18-years-old to compete. Therefore, Diaz was not allowed to attempt to qualify for the United States Olympic team. Unhappy with the decision of the USOC to bar him from the qualifying process, Diaz used the fact that his parents were born in Mexico to attempt to qualify for the 2000 Mexican Olympic boxing team. Defeating much older boxers, Diaz successfully qualified for the Olympics as part of the Mexican boxing team. However, Diaz would still would not have been 18-years-old at the start of the 2000 Summer Olympics. Therefore, the United States and Puerto Rico both filed protests to have Diaz barred from keeping at the games. Those protests were upheld, and a frustrated Diaz began his pro boxing career at 16-years-old.

The Houstonian has been featured by HBO as one of their rising stars. Not only is he a talented boxer, but he is on pace to graduate from University of Houston-Downtown with a bachelor's degree in Political Science in May. After that, he intends to enroll in law school with the hopes of one day being the mayor of Houston. There have been 2 boxing from the Toyota Center and Diaz has headlined both of them.

Diaz' last match was the victory over Katsidis in front of 13,477 fans at the Toyota Center.

Diaz is The Ring's number 1 contender at 135 pounds.

At 25-years-old, Diaz is 10 years younger then the 35-year-old Marquez. Marquez has the height advantage standing 5' 7" tall, while Diaz stands 5' 6" tall. The veteran has the reach advantage with a 22" arm length, compared to the 21.5" arm length of Diaz. Marquez will be the slightly heavier boxer in the ring having unofficially rehydrated to 140 pounds approaching match time. Diaz has unofficially rehydrated to 139 pounds approaching match time. Both boxers will employ the orthodox stance. Marquez is a little less then 2-to-1 betting favorite according to HBO.com.

The official judges keeping score of this match from ringside are from California, Nevada and New Mexico. The referee is United States Army First Sgt. (retired) Rafael Ramos.

Diaz wins an action packed round 1, 10-9. The theory going into this match was that this was going to start out as a technical boxing match with Diaz pressing Marquez. Then Marquez would begin to counter Diaz, and the match would turn into a brawl. Marquez and Diaz decided to skip straight to the brawl from the opening bell. In round 1, Diaz would back Marquez into the ropes, and then the 2 would begin exchanging combinations. Marquez landed 29 of the 95 total punches he threw in round 1. That was the most punches Marquez has ever thrown in a round tracked by CompuBox. However in round 1, Diaz landed 31 of the 104 total punches he threw. To put in perspective how frenetic the action was in round 1, the average number of total punches thrown in a round by a 135 pound boxer is 63.9. Diaz wins round 1 on Lederman's scorecard, 10-9. Round 2 is great. Diaz had Marquez hurt with a series of left hooks in the middle of round 2, and that wins the Houstonian the round, 10-9. In round 2, Marquez landed 34 of the 94 total punches he has thrown. Prior to round 1, that would have been the record for the busiest Marquez has ever been in a round. Diaz is forcing Marquez to work at a pace not even the super-aggressive Pacquiao ever did. In round 2, Diaz landed 30 of the 98 total punches he threw in round 2. Lederman scores round 2 for Diaz, 10-9. Diaz is boxing the best match of his career in winning round 3, 10-9. After 3 rounds, the hometown boxer leads on my scorecard, 30-27. Diaz wins round 3 on Lederman's scorecard, 10-9, and is ahead in the match after 3 rounds, 30-27. After round 3, there is a little blood coming from the right nostril of Marquez.

Round 4 is contested almost entirely with Marquez boxing with his back to the ropes. Round 4 was very close with the boxers trading combinations throughout the round. However, it appeared Diaz scored with the harder combinations to win round 4, 10-9. Lederman scores round 4 for Marquez, 10-9. It appears a combination just before the bell sounded to end round 5, has cut Marquez above the right eye. Round 5 is very close, but goes to Diaz, 10-9. On replay, it appears to have been a glancing right hook that cut Marquez. The cut may be slightly off to the side of Marquez' eye and not effecting his vision. However, if Diaz works over that cut it will eventually bleed into Marquez' eye. This is not a new cut for Marquez, but an old cut re-opening. This is the cut that was originally caused by a Pacquiao left hand in their second encounter. Casamayor was able to re-open this same cut in Marquez' last match. Diaz wins round 5 on the Lederman scorecard, 10-9. Diaz' constant pressure wins round 6, 10-9, and he leads on my scorecard after 6 rounds, 60-54. Lederman scores round 6 for Marquez, 10-9, but has Diaz ahead after 6 rounds, 58-56. A close up of Marquez' face in the corner after round 6 shows the boxer's right eye is red. That means the blood from the cut is dripping into his eye and effecting his vision. Since Marquez is having trouble seeing out of his right eye, the boxer is more vulnerable to Diaz' left hook. Through 6 rounds, Diaz has already thrown more power punches against Marquez, then any of Marquez' previous opponent's have thrown in an entire match. That includes both of his 12-round matches with Pacquiao. To compete with Diaz, Marquez is being forced to be better then he had to be to compete with Pacquiao.

In round 7, Diaz continues to push the pace and get Marquez against the ropes. There Diaz lands solid combinations to win round 7, 10-9. It appears Marquez is starting to get tired from working this frenetic pace. The busier Diaz wins round 7 on the Lederman scorecard, 10-9. With around 2:30 to go in round 8, a left uppercut cuts Diaz outside the right eye. It is unclear if the cut is bleeding into the eye. Despite Diaz' aggressive style he is rarely cut. The 1 time Diaz was seriously cut versus Nate Campbell, he reacted poorly and suffered the lone defeat of his pro career. (A full recap of the Diaz-Campbell match can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2009/2/27/recap-of-nate-campbell-vs-juan-diaz.html) The cut above Diaz' right eye has gotten bad quickly, and half of his face is already covered in blood with 1:30 to go in round 8. Diaz probably has very limited vision out of his right eye at this point. At this point, the expression on Diaz' face has completely changed. Early in the match with Campbell, Kellerman metaphorically asked if there was any pit of Hell too deep for Diaz to cross. In that match, the answer appeared to be that he could not continue to box effectively after seeing his own blood. Diaz is on the edge of that pit, again with a chance to prove he can continue across that pit after seeing his own blood. Marquez had Diaz badly hurt with a left hook near the end of round 8. That was probably the first left hook from Marquez that has hurt Diaz in this match. The Houstonian never saw the punch coming. Marquez wins round 8 big on Lederman and my scorecard, 10-9. It is essential that Diaz' corner get that cut closed in this break. This is the same corner people who did an outstanding job with the terrible cut Juarez had in the opening match of this telecast. The referee is correctly ruling that the cut was caused by a punch. A close up shot in the corner reveals the cut is very bad. It is on the very bottom of the eyelid. It is not wide, but the entirety of the cut is over the boxer's eye. If any part of that cut begins to seep blood, Diaz will have limited vision in his right eye. That area is also swelling quickly. Therefore, even if the cut does not bleed and inhibit Diaz' vision, the swelling will probably leave the boxer with limited vision out of his right eye by the end of the match. After 8 rounds, Marquez has landed more total punches then he has landed in any match tracked by CompuBox. Marquez is boxing the best match of his career. A right hand finishes off a combination that drops Diaz to the mat with 45 seconds to go in round 9. Diaz' eyes are still very glassy, but the referee allows him to continue with 34 seconds to go in the round. The Houstonian looks almost completely out of it and his legs look gone. Diaz is going to have to hold on to last out the rest of this round. However, as Emanuel Steward, who is doing color commentary of this event for HBO, points out Diaz does not know how to hold. That means Diaz has little chance to make it back to his corner. A right uppercut drops Diaz for the second time with 26 seconds to go in round 9. The referee was waiving the match off, the instant Diaz' body hit the canvas.

The official outcome courtesy of Michael Buffer is that: at 2:40 of round 9 the referee has called a stop to this contest, making the winner by technical knockout and now the Unified Ring/IBO/WBA/WBO Lightweight Champion of the World, Juan Manuel "Dinamita" Marquez. For the record, the official judges had the match a draw after 8 rounds: 77-75 (Marquez), 77-75 (Diaz), 76-76. The win moves Marquez to 50-4-1 with now 37 wins coming by way of knockout.

The final punchstat numbers have Marquez landing 288 of the 732 total punches he threw, for a 39% total connect percentage. Marquez landed 190 of the 401 power punches he threw, for an excellent 47% power connect percentage. Diaz landed 252 of the 781 total punches he threw, for a 32% total connect percentage. Diaz landed 161 of the 500 power punches he threw, for a 32% power connect percentage.

Shockingly, Marquez said in his post match interview that he wants Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Marquez went on to explain that he would face Pacquiao, but Pacquiao is clearly ducking him. Therefore, Marquez has no choice, but to move all the way up to 147 pounds and face the true pound-for-pound best boxer in the world, Mayweather. Kellerman then asked rhetorically, "Who would want a fight with you, Juan?" Marquez made it clear, there is nothing left for him to do at 135 pounds and his next match will be at 140 pounds or higher. Mosley was smiling on in the background through this entire interview, probably thinking of how Mayweather has somewhat avoided the Southern California native for years.

A concussed Diaz is now going to give a post match interview with Bernard Hopkins standing behind him. Diaz said the blood got in his eye and he could not see the punches coming. Unlike in the Campbell match he stayed aggressive, but got caught. There were some awkward moments of this interview where Hopkins could be seen desperately wanting to coach Diaz through it. There really should be a policy against interviewing boxers that have just been knocked out. Diaz clearly would have said some things better in this interview had he been fully functioning.

Marquez' performance in this match showed that he is possibly the best boxer in the world. Faced with a more aggressive and active opponent then he has ever faced, Marquez rose to the challenge like an all-time great should. In Marquez' last 7 matches, the natural counter puncher threw on average 50 punches per round, well below the division averages as he competed at 126, 130 and 135 pounds. However, when pressed by Diaz in this match Marquez averaged throwing 81 punches per round. Marquez deserves a match with Pacquiao next at 140 pounds, regardless of what Pacquiao does versus Hatton on May 2. However, Marquez will probably only get Pacquiao if the Filipino is defeated by Hatton and looking to rebound with a high profile win. A match between Marquez and Hatton would favor the much larger Englishman. Hatton is a stronger version of Diaz. It could be too difficult for Marquez to give up that much size and defeat Hatton. It is clear there will be no announcement on Marquez' next opponent until Hatton and Pacquiao face each other on May 2.

Diaz was great in this match. This was easily the best match of his career. Diaz performance in this match was good enough to knockout every boxer at 135 pounds, except Marquez. With the all-time great Marquez out of the division, Diaz will be able to try again to unify the belts at 135 pounds and become the undisputed champion in the division. Diaz is still very young and has the ability to be great himself. The Houstonian will probably be challenging for at least some fringe title by the end of the year.

 

 

 

This main event may be the match of the year for 2009. It is not the best match ever. It is not nearly as good as Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez II, and probably not as good as Vazquez-Marquez III with the frenetic finish. However, Marquez-Diaz was an excellent match that will be replayed for years on HBO and worth checking out when it is replayed.

 

 

 

*In an effort to get more money from sanctioning fees, the WBA has multiple versions of their world championships. To begin, the WBA collects sanctioning fees from all WBA sanctioned matches that includes title matches and title eliminators. They have their regular championships. They have then created "Super Championships". A Super Championship is created when a regular championship is unified with another of the major titles in the weight class (IBF, WBC, WBO). The creation of a Super Championship, renders the regular championship is vacant. There is now a new match to create another regular champion. In addition, they will still create the occasional interim-Championship. Meaning they can have 3 sanctioned belts in 1 weight class at the same time. It effectively renders all of the titles meaningless, but generates a tremendous amount of extra revenue for the WBA from boxers seeking to hold belts.

**There is no reason for a WBA Super Championship to be on the line in this match or exist at all. There is already a regular WBA Champion at 135 pounds, Paulus Moses. Moses is not in most major top 10 lists, but does hold the belt. Therefore by the WBA's rules, when Campbell failed to make weight the Super Championship should have simply been eliminated. Moses' belt would have to be unified with one of the other major belts to create a new Super Champion. The WBA appeared to just make up special rules in this case to get another sanctioning fee, and they got Diaz, Marquez and Golden Boy Promotions to pay it. Therefore, being corrupt worked out for the WBA here, good for them.

Posted on Friday, July 30, 2010 at 03:40PM by Registered CommenterJereme | Comments10 Comments | References4 References

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