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Mayweather v. Marquez:

Juan Manuel Marquez a winner in defeat

Marquez celebrates in ring after fight, despite losing

Mayweather vs. Marquez

Laura Ranch / Associated Press

Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, is hit by Juan Manuel Marquez, of Mexico, during their non-title welterweight boxing match in Las Vegas.

Back, Bigger and Better Than Ever

After nearly two years away from boxing, Floyd Mayweather Junior improves to a perfect 40-0 with a unanimous decision over Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Mayweather vs. Marquez

Referee Tony Weeks watches Floyd Mayweather Jr., upper left, knock down Juan Manuel Marquez, of Mexico, during their non-title welterweight boxing match in Las Vegas, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009. Mayweather won by a unanimous decision. Launch slideshow »

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Sometimes, in professional sports, trying your best just isn’t good enough.

Saturday night was not one of those times.

Immediately following the final bell of his 12-round bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez ecstatically jumped up into the corner of the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with his two hands held high over his head.

He did it all in spite of the fact that, on every judges’ scorecards, he had lost nearly every round.

“I proved that I can fight,” said Marquez at the post-fight press conference. “I gave it my all and I tried.”

That's really all anyone could have expected from him.

Marquez is a five-time world champion with more than 50 professional wins and just five losses.

None of that mattered, however, when Marquez took on Floyd Mayweather Jr. Saturday. He faced an opponent that held nearly every conceivable advantage a fighter can have.

Mayweather was the bigger, stronger and faster fighter in the ring.

But as impressive as it was to watch Mayweather perform so effortlessly after a 21-month layoff, nearly as impressive was Marquez’s resolve to stay standing against the undefeated fighter.

“With 54 fights, he’s real crafty. I can see why he’s been around the sport for so long,” Mayweather said. “You know how Marquez is. Everybody drops him, but he always gets up and fights until the end.”

Mayweather’s hardest shot came in the second round: A hard, left hook that immediately crumpled Marquez to the canvas.

As any good fighter will do, Mayweather moved in quickly once the action resumed to try to finish his opponent.

It didn’t take long for him to realize that Marquez wasn’t done yet.

“I thought, ‘Let me see if I can finish this guy off,’” Mayweather said. “He wasn’t going nowhere. I have nothing but respect for Marquez. That must be that Mexican warrior heart he’s got.”

As great of a challenge as Mayweather poses to any fighter, it was his advantage in size that was most talked about in the week leading up to the fight.

That advantage took up even more of the spotlight when Mayweather had to pay Marquez a penalty for coming in two pounds over the agreed-upon weight of 144 pounds.

During the post-fight press conference, Marquez said he didn’t want to make excuses but admitted that his smaller size was hard to overcome.

“I’m a little sad. I tried my best but the weight was a big problem,” Marquez said. “There was probably a 20 pound difference in weight.”

Although it didn’t appear to be that significant of a difference, Mayweather was visibly the bigger fighter on Saturday.

That’s a disadvantage that Marquez shouldn’t have to worry about anymore, as his future plans are not to stay in the 147-pound welterweight division.

Marquez has options in both the lightweight and junior welterweight classes and will continue to receive top-level opponents.

“We have to give Juan Manuel Marquez a lot of credit,” said president of Golden Boy Promtions, Oscar De La Hoya. “He fought until the end and he never gave up.

“Marquez is still Marquez. He’ll go back down in weight and fight the best there is. He can be proud he was in there with a great fighter like Floyd Mayweather Jr.”

Sometimes, when a fighter wins a fight as convincingly as Mayweather did over Marquez Saturday, his opponent chooses to not attend the post-fight press conference.

Not only did Marquez attend, he was applauded as a winner.

“A lot people thought I was going to get knocked out and I didn’t. I hope I made Mexico proud,” said Marquez to the sound of cheers from around the room. “I was willing to die in that ring tonight.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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