Commentary

Roberto Marroquin loses for first time

Dallas featherweight's effort to reach contender status put on hold by split-decision loss

Updated: April 24, 2011, 3:51 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

THACKERVILLE, Okla. -- The father gave the son a hug as he sat in a brown chair.

Then the dad walked slowly across the room and sat in a chair across from the son. For a moment, four people sat in a small dressing room in silence.

This is what you do after you lose. You think about what happened. You think about what you could have done differently.

This is the stage Roberto Marroquin is in following a split-decision loss to Frankie Leal on Saturday night at the WinStar Casino. Marroquin, from Dallas, suffered the first loss of his career to a tough featherweight fighter from Mexicali, Mexico.

It was also Marroquin's first time competing in the main event.

"There was some pressure in there," he said. "I think I was kinda throwing too many wild shots at times."

Marroquin, 21, was trying to move up from prospect to contender. With 19 fights under his belt, Marroquin needed to defeat Leal (16-5-3), a veteran boxer, who was standing in the way of a possible title shot. But Marroquin's corner didn't do enough to stop the bleeding from his nose caused by the straight right hands thrown by Leal. The corner failed to curtail the swelling of a left eye that eventually was swollen shut at the end of the night.

There was a headbutt that caused more bleeding down the middle of Marroquin's forehead, and the corner couldn't stop that, either.

It was bad enough that Marroquin (19-1) was fighting a southpaw who wouldn't back up and exchanged effective punches, but now he was having trouble seeing and breathing.

Two judges scored it for Leal, 99-92 and 96-94. A third judge gave Marroquin a 97-93 mark.

"I knew it was close," Marroquin said. "I don't know where that 99 came from. It was a close fight. A lot of exchanges, toe-to-toe action. I got outhustled sometimes and I outhustled him a couple of times. It was just a hard fight for the both of us."

It didn't matter, because in fights like these, you have to deliver for promotional firms, such as Top Rank, who are searching for the next big thing. Marroquin is still the next big thing, and he will get another chance.

Against Leal, Marroquin should have boxed more, stuck the jab out there to keep Leal away. Marroquin slugged, and that's what got him in trouble. He looked good and fought gamely, but sometimes you need good head movement and fewer exchanges to win the judges over.

"It's hard to say something. I'm with my son and I love him and I'm proud of him," said Marroquin's father, Gabriel. "He made it a good fight for the people and it was a tough fight and the crowd loved it."

Top Rank still likes him and wants him back in the ring. Losses happen. Happen every day.

Right now the loss hurts, so all Marroquin can do now is suffer in silence.

"It's hard to swallow it, but we have to do it and we have to come back," he said. "That's what champions are made of and I'm going to prove that I can come back."

Calvin Watkins covers boxing for ESPNDallas.com.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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