If I had to pick one fight that is signed for the first half of 2009 to watch, tonight's fight would be my choice with no hesitation. HBO has what could be an instant classic in store for boxing fans everywhere.
Juan Manuel Marquez will put his lightweight titles on the line against former title holder Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz. The fight will be taking place in Diaz's home town of Houston, Texas so the crowd will be energized and ready to go. All fans in attendance or watching at home are going to be entertained.
Both fighters bring great style into tonight's contest. The action will be fast paced and the punches will be accurate while being thrown with bad intentions. Diaz and Marquez both have been in with top flight competition so the experience factor will not be an issue.
Juan Manuel Marquez has an advantage is almost every category on paper heading into the title contest. He will be the faster guy and has more power than Diaz. His style is more conventional also and that leads to the accuracy advantage that he always seems to have in his fights. Marquez is easily one of the best technicians in the sport of boxing and that makes him a top five pound for pound fighter. He currently holds a record of 49-4-1 with 36 knockouts
Juan Diaz, in my opinion, wants to be champion more than any other fighter in the world. It drives him and gives him that hunger. Fighting in front of thousands of family and friends will have him on top of the world going into tonight's slugfest. This is his opportunity to get back into the discussion as best young fighters in the world. Diaz is still only 25 years old but he brings a record of 34-1 in with him. 17 of those wins came by KO.
It is no secret Juan Diaz is one of my favorite fighters going today. That being said, he will need to fight his best fight if he is going to pull off the upset over Juan Manuel Marquez. The "Baby Bull" is going to have to be more aggressive and push the pace to get it done. That's him game plan going in and has to stick to it no matter how much Marquez will try to push him around.
There is a lot of respect between both champions. That all will go out the window when the opening bell rings and these guys start brawling. I do expect this to similar to a street fight, both fighters being aggressive and taking advantage of the other's mistakes. CompuBox needs to have their statisticians ready to work overtime because the punch counts are going to very high.
Will the wars that Marquez has been in catch up to him like we have seen from a number of fighters recently? Diaz will look to take advantage of that by pushing the pace early and often. I am expecting a very competitive and entertaining fight between two of the best fighters in the world.
Instant classic? I can't wait to find out.
The undercard has a pretty good fight for us also. Houston native Rocky Juarez takes on relatively unknown Chris John in a title fight in the 130 pound division.
Chris John does hold a win over Juan Manuel Marquez and brings in a perfect record of 42-0. Most of his fights have taken place in Indonesia some not too many people have seen him. His style is straight ahead and he will look to outclass Juarez.
Rocky Juarez is a good fighter that can't seem to beat the elite guys when given the chance. Fighting in Houston will have him energized but I feel John might be just too much for him tonight.
I want to say thank you to HBO for putting this fight card on. It's going to be a pleasure to watch and I'm ready.