WATCHING old, grainy family footage of an infant Giovanni Marquez, strapped into a baby’s highchair, you can immediately recognise the restless hands that have been passed down from father to son. They’re moving non-stop, active, and chaotic. Like father, like son. Former US Olympian and professional world champion, Raul Marquez, Giovanni’s father, spoke of his own introduction to the world some 50 years ago, explaining he was throwing his paws around almost immediately after gasping his first breath, born at home in his parent’s one-bedroom apartment.
Ahead of his professional debut on Friday 11th March, the youngest Marquez fighter spoke to Boxing Social about the expectation of following in his dad’s footsteps and preparing to make his own way to the top: “I would say it does add pressure, but it’s not any type of pressure that I can’t deal with. It’s part of the game, and that pressure just motivates me to prove to everyone that, yes, I am my father’s son – and I have my own skill set. I can live up to it, and I can maintain our legacy.”
“As this journey begins, he’s [my father] been talking a lot about establishing the jab, not loading up with shots, settling in and staying smart. It’s smaller gloves and no headgear, so defence has been emphasised. I just wanna stay relaxed and do my thing, show my skills, and my ability. I think the landscape of boxing right now is great, and I just want to work hard and separate myself from the pack with my own skills and my own ability, to make a name for myself.”
“For myself”. Despite working closely with his father, Showtime broadcaster and former Prizefighter, Raul Marquez, the Split T Management debutant is aware that he must do the fighting – and the talking – on his own. But he’s ready for that. After delaying his transition from amateur to professional in the hopes of winning the US Golden Gloves, Marquez believes his style is tailor-made for the paid ranks. This weekend, fighting on a smaller show put together by Split T’s Brendan Segalas, it is the beginning of a journey, and the first steps taken on what could be a long, arduous road. It is, in many ways, the correct introduction to the business.
“I’m feeling confident now. In my last tournament, I was giving everyone eight-counts, I had a few stoppages, and I think I’m ready for the pros. My style is more suited, so I feel like I’ll be able to display all my talents now more than I could in the amateurs. I’d say 2022 has been great so far. We’ve been getting in a lot of great work, my dad and me. Sparring a lot of different styles, working on different things such as working off the jab, putting our combinations together, sitting down on power shots. As I progress, I wanna fight the best guys, I wanna be in exciting fights and leave my mark. I think I will do that; that’s what I wanna be known for – fighting the best.”
The Marquez dynasty has experienced plenty of success, including Giovanni’s older brother, Arturo (named after the pair’s grandfather, and the family’s head trainer for a many years). Arturo had amassed a record of 10 wins with 6 stoppages but hasn’t been seen occupying a professional ring for almost four years now. The family are from Houston, Texas, and as Giovanni tells Boxing Social, they make fighters differently down there.
“There’s just something about us Texas guys; we come to fight; we train hard. Jermell Charlo is actually a friend of mine and he witnessed me winning the Houston Golden Gloves, he was cheering me on which was pretty cool. Having someone like that, at that high level, recognising my skills and hard work… We go back to when my dad was active and they [the Charlo brothers] were coming up, they were watching him. Now, Jermell obviously knows my father and he has his own boxing gym in Houston, he has amateurs in there, and we crossed paths. He saw me fighting and he became a fan.”
“Here in Houston, we have a lot of great sparring,” Marquez continued, “The two main gyms that have a lot of great work are Main [Street] Boxing Gym where Regis Prograis trains, and J Prince Boxing Gym, which is where I went today to get in some sparring. Those two are the hotbeds for sparring in Houston if you want to get some great work. You can have a lot of other people that come out of small towns and what-not, they might struggle to get sparring. That’s not the case in Houston, Texas, there’s plenty of elite-level work for everyone.”
Elite level sparring paired with natural ability and hard work all spell success, and Split T Management, fronted by David McWater, jumped on board, signing Giovanni Marquez after his Golden Gloves triumph in 2021. They believe – as a team filled with trust due to McWater’s friendship with Raul Marquez – they can take it to the very top. And while it’s extremely early, Giovanni knows what he wants, and trusts his team to deliver.
“David was actually a friend of my dad’s before he had any interest in signing me as one of his fighters. He’d been following me through the amateurs, and before having any ties with them, he advised us to stay amateur a bit longer. I had been on the end of a bad decision, I was frustrated with the amateurs, you know how it goes. I was looking to turn pro, my dad spoke to David, and I stuck around for the Golden Gloves. I ended up winning the national Golden Gloves and sure enough, that opened a lot of doors for us. We’ve known David a while, and he was a friend before we went into business together.”
An excited, prepared Marquez finished: “You know, in this current landscape, a lot of guys don’t wanna fight. The best guys don’t fight the best guys, and that’s something I wanna be about. I think the most difficult thing about fighting the best is the business side, which is out of my control. I feel confident in the team we’ve got, I’m gonna let them handle the business-side of things, and I’ll just focus on my training and on fighting. Then, we’ll make these big fights happen…”