Marquez aims for fight with Pacquiao
LAS VEGAS — Although Juan Manuel Marquez’s right eye was swollen nearly shut, he kept it focused on his one remaining goal — a third fight with Manny Pacquiao.
Marquez didn’t exactly make himself more attractive to boxing’s pound-for-pound champion with his systematic dismantling of Juan Diaz. Marquez unanimously outpointed Diaz Saturday night, picking apart his younger opponent to retain the WBA and WBO lightweight titles.
Marquez captivated the crowd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center with precise punching and slick defense in a rematch that was nearly as entertaining as the fighters’ thrilling first meeting, which Marquez won on a ninth-round stoppage in February 2009.
Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KOs), who turns 37 next month, further erased memories of his one-sided loss to the larger Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September by dominating another opponent closer to his own size.
“The first one was difficult, and so was this one,’’ Marquez said. “He’s a very good boxer. Like every true Mexican warrior, we both fought with all of our hearts and left it all in the ring.’’
Marquez reiterated his call for a third fight with Pacquiao, believing he’s the only fighter outside of Mayweather who can worry the Filipino congressman. Their first two meetings resulted in a draw in 2004 and a split-decision loss for Marquez in 2008.
“It’s good for all fight fans,’’ Marquez said. “I’ll be ready for November, and hopefully Pacquiao will take the fight.’’
But Pacquiao is in negotiations to fight Antonio Margarito Nov. 13.
Diaz (35-4) was sharp again, just not sharp enough.
The University of Houston graduate has far more post-ring career opportunities than most fighters. He is eager to pursue a career in law — and perhaps politics, like Pacquiao.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,’’ Diaz said. “I’m going to take the LSAT, and that’s another fact. I’ve been fighting for 10 years, longer than a lot of fighters, so I’m just going to have to figure it out.’’