Last Juan standing
What better way to close the season than seeing a master at work? Jim Watt looks at Marquez-Diaz II.
Last Updated: 30/07/10 2:56pm
This is a great way to end the season on Sky Sports - and I am not just talking about the top of the bill.
I can't see any way that the rematch between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz can fail to be any different to their first meeting, but the rest of the card contains some cracking matches worthy of top billing themselves.
Joel Casamayor, Jorge Linares and Rocky Juarez are all in action as is our own George Groves and you have to say Golden Boy have delivered a very good card when it the past they have occasionally lacked support to the main fight.
And you have to applaud Marquez and Diaz for getting it on again. These guys had a real war, have had them since and yet they are still willing to climb back in the ring and do it all over again. It just goes to show how different the mentality is over here because we tend to think that after our guys have had a real battle, they deserve a rest.
But this is America and Mexico we're talking about here. Yes, television plays its part, but both of these guys deserve great credit for doing it all again. And like I say, I really do think it could be every bit as good as their first meeting in 2009.
It also looks like being another tough night for Juan Diaz. Regardless of what happened the first time, his recent form is not good. He beat Paulie Malignaggi and then lost to him and I know plenty of people who will tell you he didn't even win the first one.
But to then go back in against a guy, knowing what he can do and not being able to adapt enough to beat him a second time? Well that is worrying and suggests he is pretty one-dimensional. And this is Malignaggi we are talking about as well; a fighter who has been found out and a guy who although he is a bonafide light-welter, punches more like a featherweight!
Diaz knows this is his last chance and I suppose that will make him more dangerous. But in Marquez he is coming up against one of the very best in the business. In fact, take Floyd Mayweather out of the equation and I really can't think of a anyone who is technically as good as he is right now.
He is one of the greatest counter punchers in boxing today; he can fight going forward as well; defensively he is great; he has decent power; everything is spot-on. Marquez is pretty much the perfect fighting machine.
In the build-up people keep pointing to that defeat by Mayweather and suggesting that Marquez is finished. I disagree. First and foremost he's Mexican - and when have you ever known one of them not to bounce back from a loss?
He'll forget about that because it was nothing more than a money-earner. Pretty soon into that fight Marquez knew he couldn't do anything with Floyd, couldn't hurt him, but he realised that and avoided a pounding. If anything that will spur him on.
He might be past his peak, but don't think for a minute - even though he will be 37 next month - this is a guy on the slide. Definitely not. He is so adaptable, so sound technically that he is always capable of doing something else, fighting in different ways.
Some all-action fighters have two or three years at the very top then they lose that fire in their belly and it's over. Well even when Naseem Hamed was ruling the featherweight division over 10 years ago, Marquez was rated number one contender for 18 months: say what you like about Naz, but he wasn't stupid and did well to avoid him - now we know why!
I know Marquez still wants that third fight with Manny Pacquiao, but I think that may have gone. For a start Pacquiao is just too big nowadays, a completely different animal to the one he fought at 122lbs and 130lbs.
And if there is one lasting legacy from his defeat to Mayweather it is that he is just not big enough to compete much higher up the divisions. But he is still a special fighter and one of my favourites. He was world-class 10 years ago and still is today.
It's hard to see what Diaz can do to avoid a repeat of that first defeat. In any fight it's tough; you sit there in the dressing room primed, pumped up and ready to go, and when the going gets tough in the middle rounds you just bite down on your gumshield and tell yourself you've got to get through it.
But when you're in a return match against a guy who has already beat you, you're sitting there beforehand knowing what it's going to be like, knowing the other can - and has - beat you. It is a completely different mindset and one that requires real character.
Maybe Diaz has that character, but I am not sure at this stage - and as suggested by the Malignaggi fights - that he can do anything different. He will be the aggressor because that's the way he fights and he will have to get in close and that in turn, will play into his opponent's hands.
If there is any encouragement for him it is that in the first fight, he wasn't hurt badly. He was stopped but it was more a case of running out of steam than anything really damaging. He might pace himself better this time but if the Mexican is firing - and I expect him to be - I can only see one winner.
Marquez has already stopped him once so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him do it again, maybe even earlier. I think this time though, Diaz will stay on his feet and be stopped, not least because Marquez can find any way to win.
That's what makes him so special, one of the greatest fighters of his generation - and the perfect man to bring our season to a close.