Mexico, of course, is the Mecca of smaller boxers - that nation's mean streets have produced some of the toughest small men you'll ever see step into a ring. So I was interested in this piece highlighting two brothers from Mexico City, Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez, two small men who have fought their way into the limelight of the sport called the "sweet science."
The older of the two, Juan Manuel will fight Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera for the super featherweight crown in March. Marquez and Barrera share a high-profile common opponent, Fillipino Manny Pacquiao, who knocked out Barrera but whom Marquez fought to a grueling draw. Here's how Sports Illustrated described Marquez in that fight:
Juan Manuel stepped into the spotlight when he fought the Philippines' Manny Pacquiao, considered the best featherweight in the world. After being knocked down three times in the first round, Juan Manuel battled back to earn a draw -- and, perhaps more important, universal respect in the division. "Each time I got knocked down I thought of my family and how important this fight was to them," says Juan Manuel. "I couldn't quit; it's just not in me."The fight with Barrera ought to be an outright war. I'll certainly be watching.
While most of the big money boxing matches still happen in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, more and more quality fights are being held in Texas now, frequently featuring Mexican boxers working their way up the ladder toward the bigger venues. (Marquez last fought in the Rio Grande Valley at Dodge Arena in November.) Kathy won't go with me to the fights, but maybe I need to find some buddies to go with because we're getting a lot more chances to see high quality fighters here in Texas than we did just a few years ago.
UPDATE: This turned out to be a high quality fight. Marquez won on both the scorecards and in my own estimation, though I certainly agree a flash knockdown by Barrera in the 7th round should have been called as such, and that round otherwise so heavily favored Marquez that could flip a closely scored bout. But it was a classic Mexican boxing war, the kind of closely matched slugfest that's good for the sport. For Marquez this opens up many options, not the least of which is a superfight with Manny Pacquiao. For Barrera, this fight might be a career ender unless he wants a rematch with Marquez. Like the HBO announcers who called the fight, I wouldn't mind seeing that.