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The Promised Man: Can Roach Lead Marroquin to a Title?

The Promised Man: Can Roach Lead Marroquin to a Title?


Editor's Note: This is part one of a two-part series examining Roberto Marroquin's decision to train with Freddie Roach. The second is available here, and details Marroquin's relationship with Roach and their work-out regimen, as well as how the prospect is adjusting to life at the Wild Card, where every fighter wants to knock him down. Marroquin fights Saturday, Aug. 7 on a Top Rank Live! card.

Every professional fighter invests near unimaginable time and energy into boxing. But not all see a return on their investment. Indeed, most careers end before the ultimate dream is accomplished: a world championship.

Undefeated Roberto Marroquin (14-0, 11 KOs) is neither at the end of what Muhammad Ali biographer Thomas Hauser labeled "the hard road of boxing" nor on the cusp of a world championship. The former U.S. Olympic Team Trials Silver Medalist is a prospect, in other words, and knows he still has a ways to travel along that road before landing a title shot, let alone holding a belt aloft before an applauding crowd.

"I'm a pretty young fighter," says the 20-year-old by phone from Los Angeles. "I still have so much to improve on."  Adding: "We all wanna win titles. But everything has its time. We gotta learn how to crawl before we walk, and learn how to walk before we run."

That kind of nuanced understanding is rare among fighters of any age. To hear it coming from the still-evolving Marroquin, however, is pretty remarkable. This combination of humility and maturity is just one reason boxing insiders have such high hopes for him.

"He has a chance to be the real deal," says Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler, who first encountered Marroquin during the Olympic Trials in 2007, and later saw the Dallas native fight in Houston. "It's like watching a top football draft pick or a baseball draft pick. They show you something. I think he's got a good chance. He's got a lot of things going for him.

"First of all, he's a very bright kid: very well-read, very well-schooled," Trampler continued. "Which doesn't make you a good fighter, but, you know, he's not sitting in his room playing video games all day, either. Second of all, he's got physical advantages--he's tall for his weight. He's got a good reach. He's got an exceptional jab when he uses it. I think he's just a work-in-progress who needs to put it all together. And we're hopeful that he will."

Someone Trampler thought would be ideal for helping Marroquin put it all together is seven-time world champ Manny Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach. "I had never seen him," says Roach of Marroquin. "Bruce told me about him, and he brought [Marroquin] to my gym to work out. He impressed me quite a bit." The bottom line: Roach offered to take him on.

After some deliberation, Marroquin decided it was time to leave Dallas and his old trainer for Hollywood and Roach's famous Wild Card Gym. There, Marroquin knew he would get the type of challenge that he needed to advance to the next level.

"The sparring was terrible down there [in Dallas]. They have good amateur talent down there, but now at the professional we just need more aggressive fighters. Guys that know what they're doing. We have a lot of good prospects at the Wild Card, which is great for me. I've probably sparred about six times now that I've been here with Freddie, and I think I've been improving in every single sparring match."

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