Friday, 07 December 2012 00:43

Juan Manuel Marquez: Is the 39 Year Old in His Prime?

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Fifty years ago just about everyone would have scoffed at the notion a 39 year old fighter could be in his prime.
But Marquez, like fine wine, keeps getting better with age.

At 39, today's version of Juan Manuel Marquez is better and more dangerous than the 33 year old version of JMM who lost to Chris John in 2006 and certainly much improved over the 26 year old Marquez who dropped a unanimous decision to Freddie Norwood in 1999.

Whoever coined the phrase '40 is the new 30' must have been a Juan Manuel Marquez fan or, quite simply, an avid fight fan.

Is Juan Manuel Marquez is symbolic of a new era in boxing. The sport's champions and superstars are older today than ever before and are aren't getting any younger as time passes.

Fight fans who discount Juan Manuel Marquez or any professional fighter's abilities simply because he's north of 35 and for no other reason are ignorant to irrefutable data and resounding truths.

All of the following fighters are either legitimate world champions or solid Top 5 contenders in their respective weight class- And they are all 35 or older:

  • Bernard Hopkins - 48
  • Vitali Klitschko - 41
  • Guillermo Jones - 40
  • Danny Green - 39
  • Cornelius Bundrage - 39
  • Juan Manuel Marquez - 39
  • Zsolt Erdei - 38
  • Sergio Martinez - 37
  • Wladimir Klitschko - 36
  • Floyd Mayweather - 35
  • Carl Froch - 35

Not only are 6 or 7 of the above fighters top pound-for-pound combatants, a case can be made a few of them are in their prime as well. Carl Froch anyone?

But back to Juan Manuel Marquez....

Pound-for-Pound Rating
A fighter isn't a Top 10 pound-for-pound star without being extra special, no matter what the era. Pound-for-Pound lists, although they sometimes differ, attempt to recognize the "best" fighters of the day... The proverbial  crème de la crème of boxing.

Juan Manuel Marquez is ranked No. 4 on FightSaga's Pound-for-Pound list, No. 6 on RING's list, No. 5 by ESPN and No. 9 by BoxRec. Despite his age, there's no denying Juan Manuel Marquez is almost universally-recognized as one of the top 10 fighters in the world.

In addition. the Mexican counter-punching extraordinaire is rated the No.1 jr welterweight in the world by BoxRec, ahead of RING Champion Danny Garcia and top-flight contender Lucas Matthysse.

Pictured: Juan Manuel Marquez; Even his physique appears to be in prime shape.


Recent Performances
Since August 2006 Juan Manuel Marquez is 10-3. His loses include his two controversial rematches to nemesis Manny Pacquiao, arguablly the the No. 1 or 2 pound-for-pound fighter and an obvious loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr, the pound-for-pound king in the eyes of many. One could argue with validity Marquez should be - or is conceivably - 12-1 over the last 6 years, since turning 33.

And with regards to his only definitive, non-controversial defeat in the last 6 years, there's certainly no shame there.

Aside from the Mayweather bout, Marquez has been consistently spectacular every time he's graced the ring since his "controversial" loss to John in 2006. Moreover, his level of opposition has improved as well since that time.

Pre Chris John (Marquez's 13 most recent opponents leading up to the John bout)
  • UD12 - Victor Polo (37-4-3)
  • UD 12 - Orlando Salido (23-8-2)
  • Draw 12 - Manny Pacquiao (38-2-1)
  • TD 7 - Derrick Gainer (39-5-1)
  • TKO 9 - Marcos Licona (21-3-1)
  • TKO 7 - Manuel Medina (60-12-0
  • TKO 10 Hector Javier Marquez (26-8-0)
  • TKO 10 Robbie Peden (20-1-0)
  • TKO 1 Johnny Walker (18-3-0)
  • RTD 6 - Julio Gamboa (25-5-1)
  • TKO 2 - Baby Lorona Jr (30-14-2)
  • TKO 7 - Sean Fletcher (25-5-0)
  • KO 3 - Reynante Jamili (43-6-0)

Post Chris John (Marquez's opponents since the John fight)
  • UD 12 - Serhiy Fedchenko (30-1-0)
  • Lost MD 12 - Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2)
  • KO 1 - Likar Ramos (24-3-0)
  • TKO 9 - Michael Katsidis (27-2-0)
  • UD 12 - Juan Diaz (35-3)
  • Lost UD 12 - Floyd Mayweather Jr (39-0-0)
  • TKO 9 - Juan Diaz (34-1-0)
  • TKO 11- Joel Casamayor (36-3-1)
  • Lost SD 12 - Manny Pacquiao (45-3-2)
  • UD 12 Rocky Juarez (27-3-0)
  • UD 12 Marco Antonio Barrera (63-4-0)
  • KO 9 - Jimrex Jaca (27-2-1)
  • TKO 7 - Terdsak Kokietgym (24-1-0)

While the first list might be comparable to the second in the eyes of some, there's no doubt Marquez faced his most formidable opponents after losing to Chris John in 2006 at the age of 33.

In his most recent bout, the then-38 year old future hall of famer manhandled a formidable 31 year old Serhiy Fedchenko (30-1, 13 KOs), winning virtually every round on the scorecards of many.

The stronger of the two, Juan Manuel Marquez worked his way inside with an authoritative jab and unleashed effective combinations. The Mexican also engineered a formidable body attack in Rounds 3 and 4, forcing Fedchenko to stay outside and adopt a defensive posture. 

Looking bigger, stronger and more nimble these days, Marquez continued to pile up rounds through the middle of the fight outworking and outlanding Fedchenko. And in Round 10, the Mexican appeared to have Fedchenko hurt in the final minute of the round, thanks to some heavy power shots.

Despite being in his late 30s, Marquez showed he was in great 'fighting' shape too as he picked apart his opponent in the final round even though he could have given it away and still cruised to an easy victory. The official scores were 118-110 and 119-109.

Prior to facing Manny Pacquiao last November in a bout some believed Juan deserved to win, Marquez was 5-1 in his previous 6 fights. He'd knocked out a still-dangerous Joel Casamayor in 2008 as well as Juan Diaz (in their first meeting), Michael Katsidis and Likar Ramos. Marquez decisioned Diaz in their rematch and, of course, lost to Mayweather.

And while Marquez has been knocked down and badly hurt a few times in recent years he's always recovered well and fought harder - a trait very uncharacteristic of a fighter who is past his prime.

Is the great Juan Manuel Marquez in his prime? At this moment, there's nothing to indicate he isn't.

Perhpas we'll find out in a few days.

HBO Boxing:  Marquez vs Diaz II Highlights (HBO) - July 2010

Lee Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.