As of yesterday Juan Manuel Marquez officially retired from the sport of boxing. His record stands at 56(40)-7-1. One of the most fluid combination punchers you ever hope to see, and one of the greatest counterpunchers of his era, Marquez won world titles in four different weight divisions, becoming only the third Mexican fighter to do so. He was never knocked out in any of his professional fights.
He remained under the radar for a lot of his career, due to a combination of bad luck (Prince Naseem avoided him when Marquez was a mandatory, he was on the wrong end of dubious decisions to Freddie Norwood and Chris John), winning his first world title in his 30s and being eclipsed by fellow Mexican contemporaries Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. His accomplishments however eclipse theirs. Vindication came for Marquez when he finally and definitively defeated arch nemesis Manny Pacquiao in their fourth fight, probably the greatest high profile fight of the last decade. He beat 13 world champions in his career. In my view only one man decisively beat him in his career and that was Floyd Mayweather, a fight that was held at welterweight in what was Marquez’s first attempt at that weight class, and in a fight where Mayweather failed to meet the contracted weight.
He could be clipped at times, not having the best natural reflexes or hand speed, but this always added excitement to his fights; his fights with Joel Casamayor, Michael Katsidis and Juan Diaz are master classes in sustained aggressive counterpunching. In a sport were a competitor’s greatness often rests on and are determined by statistics, sometimes you have admit the subjectivity that comes into play and go by what you see at particular moments in time. Marquez was one of my favourite fighters to watch due to the intangibles that are not easily ranked, where the cerebral aspects of the sport felt tactile whenever he was in the ring. It was this combined with such desire to win that made him my favourite fighter of the last fifteen years.