When: Saturday, July 31, 2010
Where: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: PPV at 9:00 (EST)
Weight Class: World Lightweight Championship: 12 Rounds
Juan Manuel Marquez, 50-5-1 (37 KOs), Mexico City, Mexico, World Lightweight Champion Vs. Juan Diaz, 35-3 (17 KOs), Houston, Texas
Betting Odds: Juan Manuel Marquez (-400), Juan Diaz (+300)
Over/Under: Over 9.5 (-220), Under 9.5 (+175)
Fight Preview: In a rematch from the Fight of the Year in 2009, Juan Manuel Marquez defends his World Lightweight Title against ex-titlist Juan Diaz. In their first fight 19 months ago, Diaz laid into Marquez with zeal, forcing the cagey old champion to call on all his resolve before storming back to win in the 9th round in a pulsating fight. A lot has happened since that memorable night in Houston.
Marquez is now nearly 37. In his only performance since that evening, he was handily outboxed by Floyd Mayweather in the Pretty Boys comeback fight last September. This was really the first clear defeat in the long career of the Mexican legend. But the 26-year old Diaz hasnt exactly excited anyone either. He seemed utterly eroded in his two fights with Paulie Malignaggi, luckily getting the decision in the first fight before being dominated in the rematch.
There seemed to be some palpable deterioration in Diaz over the past year-and-a-half. The fighter that tore into Marquez the first time they fought appears to be gone. What happened to Diaz in that first encounter was the kind of defeat that ruins fighters. He passionately threw himself into Marquez, was chewed up, and then violently spit out by the imperturbable champion. The physical and mental toll from that fight appears to have manifested in his subsequent performances.
But there is a chance here that there is a gap between perception and reality. We have some ideas of where these fighters are in their careers, but a change in form is not outside the realm of possibility. Diaz struggled with Paulie Malignaggi twice. Then again, Malignaggi is such a unique fighter that maybe Diazs struggles were more of a stylistic problem than a sign of erosion.
Marquez is also at an age where a long career could suddenly set in. He could, as the old boxing adage goes, grow old overnight. The Diaz fight was his last successful moment in the ring and he is on borrowed time. The perception is, however, that Marquez is still the best lightweight in the world and the Mayweather loss was a case of a losing to a bigger man. Having just moved up to lightweight, jumping up another two divisions to fight the best fighter in the sport was too great a task. Until proven otherwise, Marquez is still one of the best around.
After all, Marquez is the only guy in recent memory to challenge the rampaging Manny Pacquiao. In two fights with the iconic Filipino, Marquez managed a draw and split-decision loss. There was very little to separate either man in those fights. So while Marquez can be challenged, only the very best have managed to it. Merely excellent fighters like Diaz, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Joel Casamayor proved not up to snuff against JMM.
Scotty L’s Pick to Win: Diaz is facing a win-or-retire scenario. He has a college degree and options. Another loss, especially if it is decisive will spell the end of a career once thought to be very promising. I like Diaz. Hes a good humble kid with a career behind him to be proud of. It pains me to say this, but I believe he became an old man in the ring before he actually got old.
The hammering by Nate Campbell in his first loss began the downward slide and Marquez might have finished it in their first fight. Diaz fought his best and had his effort violently swatted back in his face and hes never been the same. Paulie Malignaggi is a fine fighter, but even he might have been on the downslide when he defeated Diaz. I think the old Diaz beats Malignaggi.
Marquez still has some good work to do. After waiting so long to get respect and start making big money, he wants a few more good years before calling it a day. I expect him to disregard the buzz going around about Diaz being a spent force and prepare diligently. Diaz might try to box more in this fight and mix up his attack a bit, but I think Marquez is his superior and always will be, regardless of timelines or tactics. I look for Marquez to stop Diaz anytime around the 7th round. Lay the 400 on Marquez to win and take the +175 on the under.