LAS VEGAS (AP)—Although Juan Manuel Marquez’s right eye was swollen nearly shut, he kept it focused on his one remaining goal—a third fight with Manny Pacquiao.
Marquez didn’t exactly make himself more attractive to boxing’s pound-for-pound champion with his systematic dismantling of Juan Diaz.
Marquez unanimously outpointed Diaz on Saturday night, picking apart his younger opponent to retain the WBA and WBO lightweight titles.
Marquez captivated the crowd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center with precise punching and slick defense in a rematch that was nearly as entertaining as the fighters’ thrilling first meeting, which Marquez won on a ninth-round stoppage in February 2009.
Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KOs), who turns 37 next month, further erased memories of his one-sided loss to the larger Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September by dominating another opponent closer to his own size.
“The first one was difficult, and so was this one,” Marquez said. “He’s a very good boxer. Like every true Mexican warrior, we both fought with all of our hearts and left it all in the ring.”
Marquez reiterated his call for third fight with Pacquiao, believing he’s the only fighter outside of Mayweather who can worry the Filipino congressman. Their first two meetings resulted in a draw in 2004 and a split-decision loss for Marquez in 2008.
“It’s good for all fight fans,” Marquez said. “The Mexicans, the Filipinos, everyone wants to see it. That’s the most important fight to me now. I’ll be ready for November, and hopefully Pacquiao will take the fight.”
But Pacquiao is in negotiations to fight Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13. Both of those fighters are represented by Top Rank, while Marquez is backed by Golden Boy—and the two companies have been increasingly unwilling to match their fighters against each other in recent years.
Diaz (35-4) has lost four of his last six fights, yet showed remarkable stamina and courage against one of boxing’s most punishing fighters. The University of Houston graduate and aspiring lawyer was sharp again—just not sharp enough to beat arguably the most accomplished Mexican fighter of his generation.
“I fought the best fight I could,” Diaz said. “We were trading punches. We fought in, we fought out. I didn’t stand in front of him. I wanted to get in there and then get out, but it was hard, and I got hit with a couple of good shots. … I did the best I could. I followed the game plan, worked off my jab, but he’s a great fighter. He was the better man.”
Judge Jerry Roth favored Marquez 116-112, while Glenn Trowbridge scored it 118-110 and Patricia Morse Jarman had it 117-111. The Associated Press scored 10 rounds for Marquez, 118-110.