Enhancing Their Legacies

By Tom Donelson
Updated: March 28, 2008

GlovesIOWA CITY, Ia.– In reviewing the replay of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao bout, one gets whimsical over the end of a generation of great featherweights. For the past decades, we have witnessed one of the greatest eras of the featherweights and the greatest proved to be Manny Pacquaio.

Marquez was one of the most underestimated of featherweights over the past decade. Overshadowed in Mexico by other Hall of Fame featherweights such as Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, Marquez finally got recognized when he defeated Barrera late in both fighter’s career and had he not been knocked down in the closing seconds of the third round, he would have claimed a victory over Pacquiao in their second fight as well.

In a round that he appeared to solve the “Pac Man” riddle, Marquez walked into a straight left with less than 20 seconds remaining. An aborted Marquez counterattack failed to stem the Pacquaio attack and the rope held up Marquez once more and time ran out.

The knockdown decided the fight and gave the championship to the Philippine fighter. Through the past decade, giants ruled the feather weights such as Barrera and Morales.

Marquez and Pacquaio fought each other and other top featherweights. Barrera’s defeat of British Prince Naseem Hamed put the world on notice that the great featherweights lived south of the border.

The biggest threats to the Mexican fighters came not from England but from the Philippines. Pacquiao came from the junior featherweights when he first challenged the Mexican trio.

With a quick left hand, the “Pac Man” dominated Barrera and from there he began his own series with these Mexican fighters. His next bout was with Marquez and after he knocked Marquez down three times in the first round, Marquez came back to even the fight and the bout ended in a draw.

Pacquiao fought three bouts with Morales, losing the first one but ending the next two with knockouts. He won his second fight with Barrera and finally, he had one more fight with Marquez.

Of all of the Mexican fighters, Marquez was the toughest foe for Pacquiao.While he knocked down Marquez down four times in their two fights, there were times that Marquez buckled the “Pac Man”. For over 24 rounds, one point differentiated the fighters and some would even have Marquez winning both fights.

Pacquiao’s margin in their second fight laid in improved defense and better upper body mobility to escape the accurate bombs coming his way. “Pac Man’s” advantage over the very skilled Marquez rested in his power.

It was this power that allowed him to escape a narrow victory and a draw.

In seven fights with Mexico’s big three, Pacquiao won five including three by stoppage along with one draw. With only one loss, Pacquiao’s greatness resides with his result with his follow Hall of Fame opponents.

What determines greatness is what is accomplished within the ring and no one can question Pacquiao’s accomplishments. As for the Mexican fighters, they have shown their own greatness as well.

From the time that Barrera gave Hamed a boxing lesson, Mexican fighters gained the recognition they deserved. For a decade, they dominated the featherweights other than Pacquaio.

Barrera’s trilogy with Morales ranks as one of boxing’s greatest. He managed to win two of three close decisions while Marquez squeaked to win a close fight in their classic match. What made these bouts memorable was the stakes as often championship belts and pride were on the line.

As Pacquiao looks to the lightweight division as his next goal, the rivalries between these fighters appear to be at an end. Morales have already retired and Barrera is not far behind.

At 34, Marquez is facing the downside of his career but these fighters provided boxing fans some of its greatest thrills. And the “Pac Man” has sealed his own place in history as the greatest of one of the greatest featherweight era.

Joel Casamayor has been one of the best junior lightweight and lightweight fighters. In his most recent fight against Michael Katsidis, he showed his greatness. Against a younger slugger, he used guile and guts to persevere.

At 36, Casamayor has lost a step or two, but he’s always been more than just a slick boxer but a boxer with pop in his punch. In the first round, the pop showed up as he nailed his young Australian twice with straight lefts that sent Katsidis down for an eight count.

Katsidis made it back to his corner for round two and Casamayor gave him a boxing lesson in the second frame. In the third frame, Katsidis closed the gap and moved aggressively forward as his power began to make a difference.

From the middle of the third round through the eighth, Casamayor was back on his heel. Katsidis nailed Casamayor with a beautiful right that buckled the Cuban knees in the fourth; and in the sixth, he sent Casamayor through the ropes.

Casamayor looked like an old beaten fighter. In the eighth, he survived by moving and in the ninth, his mobility may have given him the round but it appeared that Casamayor was in danger of losing a decision.

Katsidis moved quickly in the tenth and he jumped at his opponent. A big mistake as his wild right missed. Casamayor’s left did not and Katsidis went down. Beating the count, Katsidis’ knees looked weak and the old pro did not allow his younger rival a chance to recover.

A series of quick combination trapped Katsidis in the corner and the fight ended.

For Casamayor, he is the man in the lightweight division and Nate Campbell victory over Juan “the Bull” Diaz does not change that. For Casamayor, there is one fight and that is Pacquiao.

After the fight, Casamayor made it clear that he is looking for a big payday and having beaten Campbell once, he has no desire to unify the lightweight title since he is the recognized champ.

What he wants at 36 is that mega fight that can not only enrich his pocketbook but add to his legacy.