Juan Manuel Marquez and the danger of a tune-up match

(This post also appears on gmanews.tv)

Some fighters feel that they need to get in a good workout before engaging in a big match with a marquee opponent. What they do is get an overmatched opponent to have a tune-up fight with. This is exactly what Juan Manuel Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs) will do this weekend.

To prepare for his third fight against Manny Pacquiao, Marquez will head on to Cancun, Mexico to fight Likar Ramos (24-3-0, 18 KOs). Marquez is not stupid. He won’t choose an opponent who has a legitimate chance of derailing the completion of the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy. Although the record of Ramos makes him look passable for an opponent for Marquez, a quick look at his résumé and you will see that he has not defeated anyone of worth. The only decent names in there are one-time Pacquiao victim Jorge Solis and journeyman Walter Estrada, and guess what, Ramos lost to both fighters.

However, even if Ramos seems like a low-risk opponent for Marquez, we all know that a lot of things can go wrong with these tune-up fights.

Erik Morales and Pacquiao both took tune-up fights before their rematch and the two fought in the same boxing card. Pacquiao knocked out Hector Velazquez but Morales failed to hold his end of the bargain, losing to Zahir Raheem by unanimous decision.

Losses to tune-up opponents are not the only things that make these kinds of fights dangerous. Marco Antonio Barrera took a tune-up fight in Mexico against Freudis Rojas who had an atrocious record of a single win, seven losses, and a draw. It was supposed to be in preparation for a fight against Amir Khan. Barrera did win the fight but he suffered cuts due to headbutts. These cuts came back to haunt Barrera in his fight against Khan.

Marquez needs to win, and win big against Ramos so as not to jeopardize the fight against Pacquiao.

If Marquez loses, then the fight against Pacquiao will automatically be off. For Pacquiao, there will be no sense in defeating a fighter who just lost to someone like Ramos

If Marquez wins a close decision, Pacquiao-Marquez 3 will be a hard sell to fans. And if that happens, Bob Arum can pull the plug on this fight altogether.

Even if Marquez wins convincingly, there are a lot of factors that could go wrong for him. Ramos is not a clean fighter by any stretch. He was given a one-point deduction in his last defeat for punching at the back of the head and he also has a disqualification loss to Edinson Garcia because Ramos bit him the shoulder. A cut here or a slight hand injury there and the fight against Pacquiao may be off for Marquez.

The Mexican veteran must have a perfect fight this weekend. If he fights too cautiously, he might turn off fans. If he fights too wildly, he might get hurt. Marquez needs to find the perfect balance between being careful but still give an exciting fight.

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