MARQUEZ: well-accustomed to meeting southpaws. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Dodge Arena, HIDALGO, TEX, Nov. 25
Graham's Odds: 
Marquez -1500; Jaca +800
Over 9.5 +120; under 9.5 -140

Juan Manuel Marquez did what he had to do in his last fight, hammering Thailand’s Terdsak Jandaeng in the seventh round to show he was still very much a force to be reckoned with in the featherweight division. On Saturday he returns to U.S. television in a 12-rounder against the Filipino southpaw Jimrex Jaca, which will be featured on HBO’s “Boxing After Darkâ€? along with the tape of last weekend’s Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales fight.

Marquez in a rematch against Pacquiao would be one of boxing’s hottest attractions but the Filipino’s current promotional status is the subject of litigation and his career is effectively in limbo. So, unfortunately there is no Pacquiao fight in Marquez’s immediate future. Assuming Marquez gets past Jaca, his next fight could be against the winner of the Dec. 9 WBO title bout between Scott Harrison and Nicky Cook — Marquez holds the “interimâ€? title, which he defends against Jaca.

I thought that Marquez looked outstanding against Terdsak in August. His combination punching was never better, his accuracy impressive. He seemed to have a new enthusiasm for the sport after seemingly being worn down a bit by promotional complications that led to him fighting for a ridiculously low purse — believed to be $30,000 — against the unbeaten local favourite Chris John in Indonesia, when Marquez lost a unanimous but debatable decision.

With an impressive performance needed, Marquez delivered against Terdsak. He was, though, meeting a made-to-measure opponent, a fighter who, while physically strong, was right in front of him and wide open. Jaca will be a trickier proposition.

I saw Jaca on the Pacquiao-Oscar Larios PPV show from the Philippines on July 1 when he won on a technical decision in seven rounds against Mexican journeyman Hector Marquez. Jaca suffered a cut over the eye that led to the fight being stopped, but he won every round against a tough veteran who had been broken down and stopped in 10 rounds by Marquez in Las Vegas four years earlier.

I was quite impressed with Jaca. He showed hand speed, punch-variety and nice boxing skills. That, though, was against a slow 32-year-old who had lost seven of his last eight bouts.

Jaca, 23, has a respectable record of 27 wins, two losses and a draw, with 12 opponents stopped — but he has never faced anyone like Marquez. He turned pro on his 17th birthday and has been the 12-round distance five times in Filipino and Orient title bouts.

Both of Jaca’s losses were in Japan. He suffered a seventh-round knockout defeat against an underdog named Yasuo Kunimi two years ago, when Jaca drained himself trying to make the weight for a bout made at the 122-pound limit. Jaca suffered a flash knockdown in the first round of that fight but came back furiously, only to run out of steam. A body punch put him down in the seventh. I suspect that drastic weight reduction had a lot to do with that defeat.

In Jaca’s other loss he was beaten on a unanimous 12-round decision by the world-rated Nobuhito Honmo, who has not lost in more than six years, in an Orient and Pacific 130-pound title bout last May. It was a bloody fight, with both men cut. Japanese authority Joe Koizumi reported that Jaca won the early rounds but Honmo came on in the second half of the bout.

Jaca won and drew in two other bouts in Japan. I caught an onsite look at him in Las Vegas last January when he knocked out a worn-looking southpaw from San Antonio named Geronimo Hernandez in the opening round. Jaca simply went right through his opponent, dropping Hernandez twice with left hands from his southpaw stance.

From my observations of Jaca, and what I have gathered from reports of his bouts, he seems to be a quick, capable fighter with an entertaining, boxer-fighter style, a sharp hitter rather than a seriously hard puncher. Saturday’s fight is a huge step up for Jaca, though — and he will be boxing a very popular Mexican in front of a largely Mexican crowd. So a Jaca win looks highly unlikely, although I do expect him to put up a good showing.

It seems that Jaca usually starts fast, and he could win some of the early rounds against the methodical Marquez. By the middle rounds, though, I would think that Marquez will be putting a lot of pressure on his opponent. The question then becomes: Will Jaca be able to hold him off?

Marquez is well-accustomed to meeting southpaws. There was the war with Pacquiao when he came back from those three opening-round knockdowns to earn a draw, the destruction of Terdsak in his last fight and, going back a bit, a close loss to the crafty Freddie Norwood and wins over Derrick Gainer and Victor Polo.

I would expect Marquez to come out in his usual steady, measured way, using the jab — which can work well against a southpaw — and looking to get in the straight right hand down the middle and the left hook under and over. If he can start hitting the target and slow Jaca down it will give Marquez the chance to fire off some combinations. I think that the longer the fight goes, the more difficult it will become for Jaca. The Filipino does not have one win over what I would call an A-level fighter. He has never faced the skilled application of force that Marquez will bring to bear on him.

Jaca will probably be competitive for the first six rounds but from this point in the fight I think that Marquez is going to be taking over in a decisive way, with Jaca being hit with increasing frequency to body and head. I think a game but outgunned Jaca will most likely be stopped some time in rounds nine to 11.

Last Updated: 
November 24, 2006 - 3:01pm