Juan Manuel Marquez to stay at 135
Lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez has made up his mind.
Marquez will stay at 135 pounds for a possible fall fight with Michael Katsidis rather than move up to junior welterweight to attempt to become the first Mexican to win titles in four weight classes, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Wednesday after meeting with Marquez in Mexico City.
Schaefer met with Marquez to discuss the options, which included him remaining at lightweight to fight Katsidis (27-2, 22 KOs), the all-action Australian brawler, an interim titlist who is Marquez's mandatory challenger, or moving up to junior welterweight for a possible fight with 140-pound titlist Amir Khan.
Marquez elected to stay at lightweight, where he defended the title with a lopsided decision against Juan Diaz on July 31 in a rematch of Marquez's ninth-round knockout win in the 2009 fight of the year.
"It was clear. He will stay at 135 pounds," Schaefer said.
The decision also could pave the way for Khan, who needs an opponent, to defend his title against Marcos Maidana in December, Schaefer said.
Schaefer said Nacho Beristain, Marquez's trainer and a proponent of him remaining at 135 pounds, was at their meeting.
"So now we are going to try to put together the deal for Marquez and Katsidis. Hell of a fight. Toe to toe. Mano a mano," Schaefer said. "This is a great fight. I'm excited for the fighters and the fans as well. This is going to be non-stop action. Pound for pound, these are two of the most exciting fighters in boxing."
Schaefer said the HBO date he has for the fight is Nov. 27, which is Thanksgiving weekend, not the best on the calendar for a major fight.
"That's what they gave me," Schaefer said. "I don't love it. It's not the best date, but it's what we have and we'll make it work."
He said the fight would probably be at the Mandalay Bay or MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Schaefer said he only briefly discussed the particulars of a deal for the Katsidis fight with Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KOs) and has not negotiated it with the Katsidis camp.
"I can't negotiate the purses until I know the HBO license fee, but when I work it out with HBO, then I can go back and forth with the fighters and work out the purses," Schaefer said.
He said he did not expect a hard time making the deal with Katsidis and his manager/trainer Brendon Smith. The Marquez fight is what both have wanted for quite some time.
"I talked to them before and informed them that I was going to see Marquez," Schaefer said. "They made it clear to me that this was the fight they wanted. So I had those conversations with them and I told them I needed to see what Marquez wanted to do. Now Marquez has told me what he wants to do and, in the coming days, I will be talking to the parties on both sides and trying to put that fight together."
Long-range, Schaefer said if Marquez defeated Katsidis, he would still attempt to move to junior welterweight with his eye on a title shot.
"Marquez didn't say he didn't want to fight at 140, only that right now he wants to stay at 135," Schaefer said. "But moving to 140 next year is very possible. We talked about him fighting Erik Morales at 140 next year. He can establish himself at 140, or if Morales wins, it would be big for him. The winner of that possible fight could be a potential opponent for Amir Khan."
Morales (49-6, 34 KOs), the faded Mexican star, who also has won titles in three divisions, ended a 2½-year retirement in March by outpointing Jose Alfaro in a welterweight bout. He is scheduled to fight Willie Limond at junior welterweight on Sept. 11.
Schaefer said he envisions a pay-per-view fight between Marquez and Morales taking place in March at famed Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Marquez-Morales is the one match that never happened among the featherweight/junior lightweight quartet of stars of the 2000s that also included Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera.
"I already knew Morales was interested in that fight," Schaefer said. "And I know now that Marquez is interested in it too."
With Marquez electing to remain in the lightweight division, it leaves Khan (23-1, 17 KOs) in need of a fall opponent. He is penciled in for an HBO fight on Dec. 11, either in the United States or in his native England.
"I just talked to the Khans and we'll see if we can put together a fight with [interim titlist Marcos] Maidana," Schaefer said.
Maidana (28-1, 27 KOs) would have to win his fight on Saturday night, when he defends his belt in his native Argentina against former titlist DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley.
"If Maidana wins, we will see if we can put that together for Dec. 11," Schaefer said. "I don't know yet if it would be in the U.K. or the U.S. The Khans are checking with [British broadcaster] Sky and I will be talking to HBO to see what makes the most sense."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
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