It was supposed to be the defining moment of
Four years ago, Marquez, then the WBA and IBF featherweight champion, stepped in the ring with
Unheralded coming out of Mexico City, Marquez had been avoided like the plague in the featherweight division. After years of toiling on undercards and headlining main events in venues like Worley, Idaho, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, Marquez was finally getting the big-name, big-money fight he had dreamed about.
Then came the first knockdown. Then the second ... and third.
With three first-round knockdowns -- one that resulted in a broken nose and the final one that was followed by a questionable Pac-Man right hand while Marquez was on the mat -- Pacquiao turned Marquez's dream into his worst nightmare. "I was connecting well in the first round," says Marquez. "I was confident. [But] he got me with three great punches."
A lesser fighter might have stayed down, might have felt the grinding of the bones in his nose and decided it wasn't worth it to get up. A lesser man might have decided that another 11 rounds of punishment against one of the most feared fighters in the sport wasn't worth the alphabet soup of belts he brought with him to the ring.
On that night, however, Marquez was not the lesser man. His face bloodied, he picked himself off the mat, finished the round and battled back from a seemingly impossible deficit to force a draw.
"I got up because of the great condition that I was in," says Marquez. "But also because I was defending two titles -- titles that cost me a lot to win. To stay down meant to lose the fight. That's something that never crossed my mind. I wasn't letting [the belts] go in three minutes, just like that."
As is usually the case in boxing, where promoters pray for trilogies the way movie producers do for franchises, a rematch appeared to be a foregone conclusion. But due to some questionable management decisions by Marquez and his superior trainer/inferior manager
"Money was the issue," says Marquez. "They [the promoters] promised me more money or a better promotion for the second fight with Pacquiao. My promoters never came through and never delivered. They were lying to me about the promotion, that Pacquiao was making the same [money] I was making. A lot of crap, you know. And I decided not to do it because I knew that they were lying and I just didn't like it."
Instead, Marquez fell off the proverbial map. He successfully defended his titles twice in the United States before traveling to Indonesia to face
I don't regret anything," insists Marquez. "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Marquez's climb back to relevancy began in 2006. In September of that year, Marquez signed with
Under Golden Boy's growing umbrella, Marquez was given the opportunity to prove De La Hoya right. Later that year, Marquez stopped
"Juan is in tremendous shape," says Golden Boy CEO
Adds Marquez, "People are going to see a great fight. I'm going to [leave] everything in the ring. I won't disappoint."