Juan Manuel Marquez earned a very impressive victory over Manny Pacquiao this past December. Whereas Pacquiao picked up his two wins over Marquez by way of controversial decisions and questionable scoring, Marquez got his in the only manner which does not lend itself to questioning after the fact. A knockout is a knockout. There can’t be any arguments about the validity or legitimacy of a knockout.
Before his last fight even happened, Marquez was forced to confront questions regarding how precisely at age 39 he was suddenly in the best shape of his life. Mind you, he didn’t have to fend these inquiries off from bloggers and TV provocateurs; Freddie Roach, one of the most respected men in all of boxing, famously said in an interview: "If [his body] is natural, I will kiss his ass. [Marquez] has gotten bigger and gained weight - it throws up a red flag. I've been accused so many times of my fighters being on steroids (that) I hate to accuse other people. But it is part of our life, part of the world we live in."
The accusations, while not based off anything more than the eye test, were there for a reason. It wasn’t just that Marquez suddenly had more strength and such a sculpted physique, it was also about who helped him attain both. His new association with Angel Guillermo "Memo" Heredia, an admitted PED peddler, raised a lot of red flags. And while Marquez has consistently denied doing anything wrong, natural human reasoning suggests that if you suddenly become stronger and bigger after linking up with a guy who provides illicit materials that help you do just that – maybe there is a connection there.
For his part, Marquez has denied the charges.
“You can say anything you want, but [if] you don’t have any proof, it means nothing,” Marquez told SI.com. “I told them I am willing to take any exam they want. Let’s go together, we’ll do it together.”
To Marquez’s credit, he did take the tests. And those tests did come back clean. Of course, as we have learned over the years, the tests conducted don’t test for everything. Something athletes are all too aware of.
“As far as people thinking I am taking steroids? I would take the test. Let them take my blood,” the 39-year-old said in another interview. “I don't care. [I would do it] just to shut everybody up. Of course my fight tests have always been clean. I don't know how those rumors get started”
All of which leads us to this: inevitably, Pacquiao’s team will enforce much stricter PED testing guidelines this time. On the last go-round they saw Marquez get bigger and stronger, but they still cockily believed they would beat him anyway. Following the events that took place last December – they know better now.
When negotiations officially begin for a fifth bout, expect for testing to supplant purse split as the big topic of interest.