JUST like a cool refreshing Last Round requires another, a scintillating battle between two excellent fighters deserves a new installment.
And so today, two Juans--Diaz and Manuel Marquez--will be donny-brooking it out in the lightweight division.
LIGHT IS THE WEIGHT. After their initial encounter, both fighters moved up in weight, hoping to earn glory in a different weight division but both met disastrous success.
Diaz split a pair of fights with feather-fisted Paulie Malignaggi at junior welterweight, which arguably demonstrated that if he couldn’t hack it with light-hitting Paulie, he was better off toiling as a leviathan at his original weight class.
Marquez moved all the way up to welterweight to challenge the unassailable Floyd Mayweather Jr. and lost by unanimous decision in a fight he lost so badly, I thought he never won a round.
So why is this fight being made? Because it’s a rematch of 2009’s fight of the year and this match is once again being fought at the lightweight division.
FIRST FIGHT. In their initial encounter, Diaz started out fast, getting the better of his older opponent with his trademark aggression.
But the wily coyote that he is, Marquez made the proper adjustments and by the third round, it was a give-and-take affair.
The ending was as abrupt as it was unexpected.
In the ninth round with the score cards dead even, Marquez suddenly erupted with another one of those sizzling combinations, punctuated by an uppercut which deposited Diaz’s rump to the canvas.
Diaz got up wobbly and the ref waived it off, ending an incredibly evenly-matched battle that was fought in ebbs and crests.
Let’s re-visit the protagonists’ credentials.
JUAN DIAZ. (35-3, 17KOs)
Style: Aggressive banger who comes forward, throwing combinations.
Strengths: Volume punching, speed, youth and stamina.
Weaknesses: Though Diaz grunts and groans as he gores his foes, there’s not much pop in those gloves as he prefers to wear down his opponents by dictating a frenetic pace early in the fight. He can also be too one-dimensional.
JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ. (50-5, 37KOs)
Style: Popularly referred to as the quintessential counter-puncher but can actually turn aggressor at any stage in the fight. Cunning ring tactician with dynamite power in both hands.
Strengths: Championship experience, stamina, ability to make adjustments mid-fight.
Weakness: Age, slow start and chin.
MY TAKE. It’s hard not to like Diaz who always brings it in a fight. This aspiring lawyer is fearless, and doesn’t really care who is in front of him and often disregards his innate limitations.
But Marquez is too good to make careless mistakes, and this fight will demonstrate the difference between a good fighter and a great fighter.
The first few rounds will be close, with Diaz shading it by his superior work-rate and tenacity. Marquez is all too wary of lagging behind early and so he will be right there with Diaz exchanging and countering.
Stamina will be a huge factor. In the first fight, Diaz was hurt by the body punches by Marquez and I have no reason to believe this will change in the rematch.
Unless Marquez is affected by the weight loss after dropping back down from welterweight, I expect him to stop Diaz in the 11th round or win via majority decision.
LAST ROUNDS. Are on Katherine LaVina-Dumadag and Goldie Romarate-Delvo of STC H.S. Batch 90 who are in town for a much-anticipated homecoming. Cheers!