He survived to become a world champion, only to nearly have it all taken away one night in 2004 in Las Vegas, where
Six years later, Marquez faces adversity again. He is not on the mat, not literally anyway. But he was there 11 months ago, flat on his back, staring up at the smug mug of
"To me, victory is everything," Marquez said. "It's very important. It motivates me. It keeps me going to defend my titles with the pride and honor and having my hand raised at the end of the night, that's the most significant and what brings it out in me. I don't know how but it comes out because of that determination that I have to win."
If it sounds a little strange that Marquez is in this position, it should. Against Mayweather, Marquez faced heavy odds against a heavier man. After spending his career hovering between 126 and 135 pounds, Marquez was asked to tack on 10 more. Saying no wasn't an option -- not with a $4 million payday at stake. But as he prepared for the biggest fight of his life, very little felt right.
"We knew going into the fight it was going to be a very difficult, a very tough task," Marquez said. "But what made it a little more difficult was also the weight, the excess weight that Mayweather had. It was approximately 15 pounds once we got inside the ring. We gave it our all, and after the fight we know that the people were behind us and we hope that they realized that, hey, we gave it 100 percent the whole time."
Said Marquez's trainer,
When a fighter is asked to gain an unusual amount of weight for a fight, he can run into trouble coming back down. Just ask
"We've done it very carefully, very healthy, very well," Marquez said. "We have had the help of a nutritionist. I did, obviously, gain a few pounds to go up in weight. But we're working, as always, very hard, working with the weight and working in the gym and we'll be there for a very good fight, a strong fight, and at weight come July 31."
History suggests Marquez's words are true. Each of his previous four losses was followed by a knockout win, the last being an 11th-round KO of the slick
"Juan is like a fine wine that only gets better with age," Beristain said. "He's having, technically, a better camp and is training much better than the first fight with Juan. I expect the courage that Juan Diaz brings and the courage that Juan Manuel provides that this will provide another great fight and that the fans are going to win, all around."
It's Marquez, however, who stands to gain the most. HBO has him penciled into a December date with junior welterweight champion
"It's definitely something that keeps me going, to become the first Mexican fighter to win in four divisions is a dream come true and it's something in my mind," Marquez said. "But right now my concentration is 100 percent on July 31 to defend my titles, my belts, against Juan Diaz and then we'll look forward."