No Holds Barred: Juan Manuel Marquez, Juan Diaz, Jorge Linares, Rocky Juarez, Robert Guerrero, Joel Casamayor
On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman previews the main card featuring the rematch of the 2009 fight of the year in boxing, when WBA/WBO lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez faces Juan Diaz Saturday, July 31, in Las Vegas.
When they first fought on February 28, 2009, Marquez won by a ninth-round TKO. The non-stop, see-saw action from both boxers in that fight earned it fight of the year honors for 2009.
After a losing performance at welterweight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September 2009, the 36-year-old Mexican legend Marquez (50-5-1, 37 KOs) returns to a more natural weight for him to defend his lightweight belts in this fight.
Following the first Marquez-Diaz fight, the 26-year-old Diaz (35-3, 17 KOs), from Houston, Texas, a former world lightweight champion himself, also had an unsuccessful try at a higher weight. He won a controversial decision against Paulie Malignaggi at junior welterweight, and then, in an immediate rematch, dropped a clear-cut decision to Malignaggi, both in 2009.
Now the rematch of their universally-acclaimed first battle is set, and at lightweight. It will headline a stacked card which will be shown on HBO pay-per-view in the U.S., and take place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While most major boxing pay-per-views feature one top-level fight preceded by a series of purposeful mismatches or just plain bad fights, the rest of this televised card should provide interesting, important, and competitive fights.
Only recently, many considered Venezuelan fighter Jorge Linares to be the future of boxing. But a shocking first-round knockout loss to little-known Juan Carlos Salgado in October 2009, followed by a less-than-stellar majority decision win over journeyman Francisco Lorenzo in March 2010, have raised questions about the potential of the 24-year-old Linares.
Now with a record of 28-1 with 18 KOs, Linares will face 2000 Olympic silver medalist Rocky Juarez (28-6-1, 20 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout on this card.
The 30-year-old Juarez, from Houston, Texas, also has something to prove, as he has come up short in several shots at a world title. He is also coming off a technical decision loss to Jason Litzau in April 2010 and a unanimous decision loss to unbeaten titleholder Chris John in September 2009.
This card also features a ten-round junior welterweight fight between 27-year-old Robert Guerrero (26-1-1, 18 KOs) of Gilroy, California, and the ageless Joel Casamayor (37-4-1, 22 KOs), an Olympic gold medalist representing Cuba in 1992.
Guerrero, who had taken some time off from boxing to care for his wife, who has leukemia, last scored an eighth-round TKO over journeyman Roberto Arrieta in April 2010. A former titleholder at featherweight and super featherweight, he hopes to campaign regularly at lightweight or junior welterweight now.
Casamayor has already held world titles at super featherweight and lightweight. While he won a tune-up fight in November 2009, his last major fight was a loss by TKO in the eleventh round to Juan Manuel Marquez in September 2008. That was a very close fight up until the time of the stoppage, which some questioned, and the veteran Casamayor should certainly be well-rested for this fight with the younger Guerrero.
Also on this card will be a fight which should be the toughest test yet for 23-year-old Danny Jacobs (20-0, 17 KOs), of the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. Many have criticized his opposition thus far as being too soft, but that should not be the case here, when he faces the unbeaten 30-year-old Russian fighter Dmitry Pirog (16-0, 13 KOs). Jacobs and Pirog will meet for the vacant WBO middleweight belt.
To preview this card, we spoke with Juan Manuel Marquez, Juan Diaz, Jorge Linares, Rocky Juarez, Robert Guerrero, and Joel Casamayor on a series of media conference calls. We also analyze the historical context of these fights, and offer thoughts on their significance.
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