Juan Manuel Marquez, unable to secure a fourth fight with welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao following a controversial decision loss to him in November, will return to face Cesar Rene Cuenca on April 14 in Mexico City.
Marquez, a three-division champion, and Cuenca will meet for a vacant interim junior welterweight belt that was made available because junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. got the shot instead of Marquez to challenge Pacquiao for his welterweight title on June 9 and won't be defending his 140-pound title for the time being.
"The fight is official. We will do the press conference on March 22 in Mexico City," Zanfer Promotions' Fernando Beltran, Marquez's promoter, told spam.com on Tuesday.
Cuenca (42-0, 1 KO), 31, of Argentina, has not faced any top opponents and has displayed almost no punching power, but Beltran said he was the mandatory opponent for the interim belt.
Besides, Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KOs), 38, wants to stay busy and not sit around waiting for a big fight.
"It's important to keep him active. Juan Manuel wants to stay active," Beltran said. "And he wants to definitely come back to Mexico City."
Mexico City is Marquez's hometown, but he has not fought there since 1994, his second year as a professional fighter.
"It's been 18 years since he fought in Mexico City. This is his hometown. And he is very excited about it," Beltran said. "He is excited to make a fight and what's better for him than to be fighting in his hometown after all these years?"
Beltran said Marquez-Cuenca will be the first sports event to be held at the new $300 million Mexico City Arena, which seats 22,300 and opened in February.
"It opened a few weeks ago, but this fight will be the first sporting event and that is very exciting for us," Beltran said.
Beltran said Marquez-Cuenca will be televised in the United States but that he was still putting the broadcast deal together.
"We're talking to some networks. We don't want to keep him away from his fans," Beltran said.
If Marquez defeats Cuenca, the plan is for him to fight again July 14 on a pay-per-view card Beltran is working on with his frequent partner, Top Rank. That fight could take place at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas or at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Beltran said.
"If everything goes good with Cuenca, we plan to do the pay-per-view with him in July and then try to get that fourth fight with Manny in November," Beltran said.
Marquez's July opponent could be the Philippines' Mercito Gesta (24-0-1, 12 KOs), who is with Top Rank, although Beltran said he would like to make a bigger fight against Brandon Rios, the former lightweight titlist who is also with Top Rank and plans to move up to junior welterweight soon.
"We're looking at Mercito Gesta at the moment, but we won't scratch anyone off (the list)," Beltran said. "Marquez would like to fight the best, so if Rios is out there we'd like to fight Rios at 140. Rios would be a big fight."
Junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire, awaiting a fall date to face Jorge Arce on HBO, likely will face former junior bantamweight champ Cristian Mijares in the July 14 pay-per-view co-feature, although Beltran said Mijares would first have to win a scheduled April 21 fight.