Marquez in Vegas or Mosley at Staples? Tough call for boxing fans on Sept. 18
Shane Mosley's return from his Floyd Mayweather Jr. loss -- in which he'll square off against fellow Southern Californian Sergio Mora on Sept. 18 at Staples Center -- would be a natural stop for L.A. boxing fans.
But there's likely a better fight across the Mojave Desert in Las Vegas that same night: the world featherweight title bout airing on Showtime pitting unbeaten champion Juan Manuel Lopez against Rafael Marquez at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The pair appeared in L.A. Tuesday at the downtown Biltmore hotel.
The 35-year-old Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs) of Mexico proved to be the survivor of his epic four-fight series against Huntington Park's Israel Vazquez, winning the anticlimactic finale by third-round KO in May at Staples Center.
The question is, can his resiliency continue against the 27-year-old Puerto Rican Lopez (29-0, 26 KOs), who boasts a devastating left that has ended 13 of his fights -- including his first title defense earlier this month -- before the start of the fourth round?
"Age has nothing to do with this sport as long as you prepare yourself," Marquez said. "I will put my experience in play in this fight. I have noticed [Lopez's left], but he also drops his hands. That gives me confidence I can move in there and hit him.
"I'm not concerned at all about age making a difference. My only worry is myself."
Marquez is so intent on ensuring his conditioning is strong, he was planning to depart back to Mexico immediately after the L.A. stop, skipping his brother Juan Manuel Marquez's Saturday night world lightweight title bout on HBO pay-per-view against Juan Diaz at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
With a victory from Rafael, the Marquez brothers will become the first siblings to have claimed three belts in three different weight divisions. Juan Marquez has the ability to fare well against southpaws such as Manny Pacquiao, and Rafael Marquez has posted impressive TKO triumphs over southpaws Tim Austin and Mark Johnson.
"I know I got one good challenge left before me, and I want to fight the best," Rafael Marquez said. "It'll be a tough fight, but I'll win by knockout."
Rafael Marquez has proven that he "can throw and catch," as his promoter Gary Shaw said, and he'll have the patriotism edge, as the bout occurs on Mexico's 200th Independence Day weekend. "I don't believe Juan Manuel Lopez has ever fought anyone with the skill of Rafael, and Rafael has proven he's a tough guy to stop. I could see several knockdowns taking place in this fight."
Lopez expressed admiration for "the great fights and wars" that Marquez has endured.
"But this is my opportunity to show that I can fight at this level," he said. "You don't get many opportunities like this. I have to believe [Marquez] still has a lot left. I'm not going to underestimate him. I know I have to be careful and intelligent to beat him. I know there are some doubters out there, but I'm excited to know that if I win, I'm the best 126-pound fighter out there."
Lopez, who usually fights in his home country or on the East Coast, will fight in Las Vegas for only the third time.
His promoter, Bob Arum, said fighting in "boxing's palace" has to be "factored in" referring to why Las Vegas oddsmakers make Lopez a narrow minus-160 favorite to win.
"JuanMa's firepower should decide it, but if he goes in like a kamikaze pilot against this experienced guy, he could get knocked on his [rear]," Arum said.
The Vegas card will likely also include a bantamweight title defense by Colombia's Yonnhy Perez versus Mexico's colorful Jorge Arce. Tickets priced from $100 to $400 go on sale Monday through Ticketmaster.
-- Lance Pugmire