INGLEWOOD, Calif. – After yet another night of technical brilliance, Juan Manuel Marquez will return home to Mexico with an impressive victory over Mike Alvarado in his pocket and a multi-million dollar offer to fight Manny Pacquiao to mull over.
Marquez was magnificent, as expected, using his counter punching, quick hands and exceptional accuracy to rout Alvarado in their welterweight battle before 12,090 roaring fans at The Forum.
Judges scored it 119-108, 117-109 and 117-109 for Marquez, who dropped Alvarado in the eighth and controlled the bout from start to finish.
Marquez was dumped by a terrific Alvarado counter right in the ninth, but it was one of his few mistakes on the night.
"That was a bad mistake," Marquez said, smiling. "Very bad. I held the right hand way too low and he took advantage."
But it only served to add drama to the stretch run. Marquez cleanly won the first eight rounds and was making Alvarado look silly at times.
Alvarado's corner was pleading with him to throw punches and let his hands go, but he did not do much early in the bout. Marquez was picking him apart and Alvarado was just eating shot after shot.
"You need to let it go with both hands," trainer Shann Vilhauer urged him after the seventh round. "You're going to get hit, but you've got to let them go. He's not going to knock you out, but you're going to get hit. You've got to let your hands go."
He added a semblance of drama by dropping Marquez once and wobbling him another time over the final four rounds, but it was clear early in this one who the better man was and who would be the one to get the shot at Pacquiao.
Marquez beamed when it was suggested he might make eight figures to face Pacquiao, but he was non-commital about whether he'd take the fight.
It was probably his way of negotiating and increasing his paycheck.
Promoter Bob Arum said the Pacquiao fight will be in China in November and that Marquez will get the first crack as the opponent, which would be the fifth in a series that now covers more than 10 years. If Marquez doesn't accept it, Arum said, he'd offer the bout to Ruslan Provodnikov, who fights Chris Algieri in June.
Arum also said that because he's back on speaking terms with Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya, some Golden Boy fighters could figure into the picture against Pacquiao if Marquez declined.
"There's a lot of stuff happening now and we have to see how this all shakes out," Arum said. "It may actually end up that the fighters who end up with Golden Boy, meaning Oscar, could be available to fight Manny, and they'd certainly want to do that."
Many U.S. fans have expressed displeasure at the notion that Pacquiao and Marquez may wind up fighting a fifth time. It's hard to understand why considering the first four fights were classics and among the best over the 10-year span in which they were held.
Ordinarily, Arum would be on the hard sell, but Saturday, he shrugged. He said he has a deal finished to sell the November Pacquiao fight on pay-per-view in China and so he wasn't distressed at the notion that the U.S. audience may not be thrilled with it.
"The important question is, who am I selling this to?" Arum said. "Now, if it's the United States and some people talk about, 'Ah, we've seen this before,' then yeah, maybe the sales wouldn't be as robust as they were.
"But the United States is not the only market. Manny's November fight will be paired with a Zou Shiming title fight and it will be shown on pay-per-view in China. We couldn't get it done [for Pacquiao's 2013 fight with Brandon Rios in Macau], but now we've gotten it done."
That puts the ball squarely in Marquez's court, because he's the guy Pacquiao wants most and he's the guy with the most name recognition, both in the U.S. and in the Asian market.
Marquez, coming off an October loss to Tim Bradley, fought with the energy of a guy at least 10 years younger. There was some question whether he'd get old over night, and that's a danger with any athlete over 40.
But he was on top of his game from start to finish and dominated a quality fighter with few problems.
"Yes, I think it was [one of my best performances]," Marquez said. "I did my job in the ring. Mike Alvarado is a tough fighter. I said I'd have a tough fight with him and Mike did a great fight, too."
It wasn't nearly as impressive as Marquez's fight was, though. He landed 44 percent of his punches, including an astounding 57 percent of his power shots.
Alvarado is likely headed into a fight with Bradley, while Marquez is left to consider a financial offer that will not only leave him set for life, but also his children and their children.
"I have a lot of things to think about," he said, grinning. "But I need to go home and relax, first."