By Chris Mannix
April 05, 2012

Last November, Juan Manuel Marquez addressed a throng of media in Las Vegas a beaten man. Marquez had just been handed a decision defeat -- a highly questionable defeat, in the eyes of most ringside observers -- to Manny Pacquiao, the third straight time Marquez had stepped in the ring with Pacquiao and come away with nothing. At 38, Marquez wore the look of a fighter who had enough, a man who, as he put it, could kill Pacquiao in the ring and still not get a decision.

Five months later Marquez (53-6-1) is back. He's not fighting Pacquiao -- Pacquiao and promoter Bob Arum thought Tim Bradley was a safer pick -- but he will fight for a title in his fourth weight class when he takes on Sergei Fedchenko (30-1) on April 14 for the WBO interim junior welterweight belt. Marquez has not abandoned a fourth fight with Pacquiao; both Marquez and Arum suggested it could take place later this year. But with or without him, Marquez is ready for his career to continue.

"He's a professional," Arum said. "He's a very smart man. He knows that all of the complaining once the judges have rendered their decision doesn't change the result. So now you pick yourself up, and you continue your career, and I sort of suspect that the best is yet to come in Juan Manuel's career."

Indeed, Arum has a plan for Marquez. One option is Pacquiao, who, according to Arum, is unlikely to face Floyd Mayweather this year. Another Pacquiao-Marquez fight would easily eclipse one million pay-per-view buys and sell out any of the arenas in Las Vegas. That fight would likely earn Marquez $10 million and give him another chance at the win that's eluded him through three hotly contested bouts.

Another option is Brandon Rios, the co-headliner of Top Rank's split-site show next Saturday. Rios will fight for a 135-pound belt against Richard Abril but is expected to jump to 140 pounds after the fight. Arum says a July 14 showdown at Cowboys Stadium between Marquez and Rios is a possibility. That fight would produce some fireworks.

Onto your emails ...

Sergio Martinez was a great fighter, and is still very good, but he is past his prime. He was behind on most cards for the first eight-plus rounds against Matthew Macklin. He had trouble against a middling middleweight. While I think he could beat all of the current middleweight belt holders, most of them would be close fights. Floyd Mayweather would make mincemeat out of Martinez and Manny Pacquiao would beat him too. Maybe Martinez should fight Miguel Cotto. Even if Cotto puts up a good fight against Mayweather and loses, a Martinez-Cotto fight would be interesting a good moneymaker, especially if held in New York.--Alan, New York, N.Y.

I won't argue that Martinez is past his prime; he is 37, after all. But I disagree with a few things. For starters, Macklin is better than "a middling middleweight." He was robbed of a title against Felix Sturm and ranks among the top 160-pounders in the world. I also don't know how a Martinez-Mayweather or a Martinez-Pacquiao fight would play out. Mayweather is a slick defensive fighter but Martinez is deadly accurate and would, for the first time in a long time, have a size advantage. As would he against Pacquiao, who has limited experience above 147 pounds.

I do agree with you about Cotto. Win or lose against Mayweather, I think Martinez-Cotto in New York is a natural fit. Martinez has said he will drop back down to 154 pounds or fight at a 155-pound catchweight. I don't see it happening in 2012 but if both are still winning early next year, it's certainly a possibility.

Your column on Chad Dawson is enough to inspire me to root for old man Bernard Hopkins. I know, of course, that this is standard trash talking, but Dawson proved nothing in less than two rounds with Hopkins. Who are you picking in the rematch?--Ed, Orlando

I like Dawson, Ed. I think he is too big, too fast and too skilled for Hopkins. I think he wins a lopsided decision on April 28.

Why is it on Mayweather for not wanting a 50/50 split against Pacquiao? Manny said in an interview he had agreed to all demands, and would even give Floyd a "lion's share" of the purse. How is Floyd a bad guy for not wanting a 50/50 split after that?--Kyle, Queen City

One more time: Mayweather-Pacquiao is a 50/50 split fight. Credit Floyd for creating his own financial model. But you can give someone like Victor Ortiz $2 million and have him accept it. You can't offer Pacquiao a flat fee, even if it is $40 million. Not when revenues for the fight could exceed $150 million. Pacquiao is just as big a draw as Mayweather in pay-per-view sales (may be bigger) and at the box office (definitely bigger). I honestly don't blame Pacquiao for balking at Mayweather's terms. They don't make any sense.

Nice win by Kelly Pavlik last weekend. Think he can make it back to the top?--Andy, Los Angeles

Pavlik looked good, Andy, albeit against a guy who couldn't do much against him. Kelly looked fit and trim, showcased a crisp jab and used an impressive left hand to knock Aaron Jaco down and out in the second round. Pavlik's team isn't going to rush him, which I agree with. I've heard that he will likely be on an ESPN card in Las Vegas on June 8, the eve of Pacquiao-Bradley. One thing I'd like to see Pavlik do is continue to cut weight. He fought Jaco at 169 pounds. I'd like to see him try to make his way back down to 160, where his power will be more effective. Either way, it's good to see Pavlik looking healthy and back in the ring.

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