Marquez carries on tradition of fighting on Mexican Independence Day

04/09/2008

Marquez carries on tradition of fighting on Mexican Independence Day

Press Release: On September 13, 2008 in Las Vegas, Juan Manuel Marquez will take a huge step toward cementing his status as one of the greatest Mexican fighters of all-time when he challenges Joel "Cepillo" Casamayor, who reigns as the world lightweight champion. With a victory, Marquez, who has held world titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, would become a three-division world champion.  It is the symbolic significance of the bout, however, that separates this fight from Marquez's previous 53 fights.  That's because Casamayor-Marquez will take place on the weekend of El Grito de Independencia (Mexican Independence Day), which celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain in 1810. The weekend has historically been reserved for only the brightest of Mexican and Mexican-American boxing heroes and legends.

"It is an honor and privilege to fight on a date that is so special for all Mexicans.  All Mexicans, Mexican Americans and boxing fans in general are eagerly awaiting this fight and I look forward to fighting with pride for all of them," said Juan Manuel Marquez who fought once before on the celebratory weekend scoring a victory over Orlando Salido on September 18, 2004.

Reflecting on great moments in the history of Mexican Independence Day fights, we begin with Julio Cesar Chavez, a Mexican legend and perhaps the most important figure in the history of Mexican boxing.  "J.C. Superstar," who fought from 1980-2005, was arguably both the greatest and most popular Mexican boxers of all time.  No matter how brightly Chavez's star shined, he never lost his connection to his people.  It is fitting then, that so many of his most important bouts took place on Independence Day weekend. 

In 1984, Chavez won first world championship on such a weekend, stopping countryman Mario Martinez to capture the vacant WBC super featherweight title.  That began a joyous tradition that peaked in the early-90s, when Chavez fought on Independence Day for five consecutive years.  Among his opponents in those fights were Hector Camacho, Pernell Whitaker and Meldrick Taylor.

To place the magnitude of those fights in perspective, consider that in 1993, Chavez-Whitaker drew a crowd of 57,000 to the Alamodome in San Antonio and not 100 of them were rooting for the American.

Beloved Mexican legends had previously fought on the national holiday, including Ruben Olivares and Salvador Sanchez, but Chavez virtually made the occasion his own.  "I feel proud to have been part of fights that gave fans such great memories while celebrating Mexico's Independence, such as my fight against Meldrick Taylor," said Chavez.  "That night, I was filled with great pride knowing that all of my people were watching and that the fight was taking place as part of the celebration of Mexican Independence."

On Independence Day weekend in 1998, 10-time world champion Oscar de la Hoya defeated Chavez in their rematch and in subsequent years, "The Golden Boy" continued the tradition his idol had established.  Several of the biggest bouts of De La Hoya's career came on the holiday weekend, including super-fights with Tito Trinidad, Fernando Vargas, Shane Mosley (their rematch) and Bernard Hopkins.  

In 1999, De La Hoya-Trinidad drew 250,000 people to Las Vegas and in the city's sports books, a staggering $25-million was wagered on the fight.  The fight also set a then record for pay-per-view buys for a non-heavyweight bout with a staggering 1.4 millions homes tuning into the fight.

"I have always felt great pride fighting during Mexican Independence Day weekend," De La Hoya said.  "It gave me extra motivation because of the importance of this date for Mexicans and those of Mexican descent all over the world.  There is extra pressure to perform on this weekend and I know Marquez is going to want to prove he's the best on September 13th.  I know he's going to come out strong and show he's tough, just like Chavez and I did when we fought on this special day."

I deleted the box with De La Hoya's fights as well. If you want it back in, I'll retype it.—SF…eh if we took it out for everyone, leave it out, we may just want to list his other MIDW fights.

Long ago, Marquez established his mettle, but unfortunate timing—and a point or two on the judges' cards—has cost him.  Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales became Mexican icons largely by fighting each other.  By the time Marquez defeated Barrera (in March '07), the latter was regarded as past his prime.

By any standard, Marquez has fared better against pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao than either Barrera or Morales did in their battles with the Filipino star. Pacquiao twice convincingly defeated Barrera and won two of three versus Morales, but in a pair of bouts against Marquez, Pac-Man was held to a draw and won by split decision.  Neutral observers made strong cases for Marquez having won both those bouts.

The past, of course, cannot be re-written or erased, but perception can change, and Marquez fighting on Independence Day goes a long way toward doing just that.  Marquez is 35 now, and he's certainly waited his turn.  His standing can never be questioned and the honor of fighting on Independence Day weekend has finally been bestowed upon one of the greatest Mexicans of all time.

APPENDIX
Other Mexicans who have fought during Independence Day weekend are some of the most respected champions in the sport's modern era.  They include Barrera and Morales, both of whom won world titles at three weights and established themselves as pound-for-pound greats.

Barrera, who is one of Mexico's most popular fighters, is best known for his legendary trilogy against Morales and his tremendous victory over then-undefeated and heavily favored Prince Naseem Hamed.  Barrera fought on Independence Day weekend thre times against….

"It was an honor for me to fight on this weekend because I knew that all Mexican fans were watching very closely," Mexico City's Barrera said.  "It has always been an important date that belongs to most important Mexican fighters."

Morales is also one of the most important fighters in the history of Mexican boxing.  With his unique style and brilliant performances, he was able to both win the love of Mexican fans and maintain the respect of his adversaries.  Morales had one fight on Independence Day Weekend, a thrilling fourth-round TKO of Junior Jones that took place in a bull ring in Morales' hometown of Tijuana.

"Even though I only fought once on this weekend, I always knew that it would be a fight that would be remembered because it took place on such an important date," Morales said.  "It remains a strong connection between the sport and Mexican history.  There will always a hard-fought battle that fans won't forget when a Mexican fights during the celebration of Mexican Independence."

Gabriel Ruelas, a native of Yerbabuena, Jalisco, Mexico, was another important Mexican World Champion who fought on Independence Day Weekend.  He did so XX times….

"It was an honor for me to fight during the celebration of Mexico's Independence and I will always remember it was an important moment in my career during which I hope I was a worthy representative of Mexican boxing," Ruelas said.

Chango Carmona, a native of Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico, is credited with starting the tradition of Mexican fighters representing their country on this weekend.  His epic battle against Mando Ramos took place during the celebration in 1972.

"For me it was very special and so important to fight on September 15th in 1972," Carmona said.  "I remember shouting for joy after I beat Ramos and captured a world title in front of all the Mexicans fans in the Los Angeles Coliseum.  That win wasn't just for me, it was for Mexico as well."

 
Casamayor vs. Marquez – "The Challenge," a 12-round bout for Casamayor's Ring Magazine World Lightweight Championship, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Romanza Boxing Productions and sponsored by Cerveza Tecate, Cazadores Tequila and Southwest Airlines.  Mora-Forrest II is the 12-round co-featured bout presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Tournament of Contenders, Gary Shaw Productions and Fight Knight, LLC.  The double header will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. 

Tickets are on sale and may be purchased at any MGM Grand box office outlet and all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations (select Smith's Food and Drug Centers and Macy's West at the Fashion Show Mall).  Ticket sales are limited to eight (8) per person.  To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (702) 474-4000.  Tickets also are available for purchase at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.