Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez: Too Close to Call

01.03.07 - By Anthony Coleman: I sometimes laugh when people speak about the unpredictability of boxing. You know the clichés; “boxing is the theater of the unexpected,” or “anything can happen in the ring.” I laugh not because it’s false, but because unexpected events in a boxing ring are such a rare occurrence. Yes there are some fights that are unpredictable, whether it is the outcome or the events that occur in the fight; but for the most part a boxing match is as predictable as a confrontation between a squirrel and a semi-truck going one-hundred miles per hour. You know what’s going to happen, and more likely than not, how it’s going to happen. Quick show of hands: how many people think Miguel Cotto’s mis-mandatory defense against Oktay Urkal won’t end in another brutal victory for Cotto? Come on let me see those hands! I didn’t think so.

Well, despite my jaded response, imagine my surprise after looking at the match-up for this weekend’s showdown between Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez I soon realized that I couldn’t make a good prediction about this fight. This fight is a true coin toss and I don’t have a confident idea who is going to win this fight. This is a true pick ‘em fight, the kind that boxing rests its fine reputation on. Looking at both men’s records along with their strength and weaknesses, you’ll some to the conclusion that both men are evenly matched. If you want to disagree with me, well, I suggest you examine both men yourselves.

Let us begin with Rafael Marquez. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: he is the best puncher in the game today. He can knock anybody out with any punch from either hand. That kind of punching power is rarely seen in a boxing ring. In addition to his power, he also possesses great technical skills. His combination punching to the head and body is excellent, and he has become adept at counter punching. Furthermore, he is developing into a very good ring general in the mold of his older brother; Juan Manual Marquez. In short: there is nothing he can’t do offensively.

On the other side of the ring you have Israel Vazquez. Vazquez has good power in his hands in his own right, though he doesn’t possess the eraser like Marquez. However, he is among the best combination punchers in the sport today. He’ll come at his opponents from all angles, either to the head or body, and his opponents usually will wilt over the heat of his multi bomb attack. If it wasn’t for his ability to put hard punches together so often, he never would have defeated Jhonny Gonzalez is their thrilling fight last year. He also is a technically-skilled fighter in his own right and his footwork is stellar.

When it comes to weaknesses, both men are pretty similar. The quality of both fighters’ chins has been discussed ad nauseum. Yes both men won’t be confused with having Marvin Hagler or Jake La Motta level beards, and it will probably be focus for both men during the fight. Defense is also a cause for concern. Marquez and Vazquez will often leave themselves wide open to power shots either, in Marquez’s case; being overanxious or in Vazquez’s case; keeping his arms extended too long after punching. Defense and Chin factor could spell defeat for both men, so it is crucial that they are cautious while boxing (but not too cautious, or it will ruin the fight).

Now after thinking about both fighters’ styles can you honestly tell me that there is a clear favorite? Put your hand down if you are a fanatic for either Marquez or Vazquez because your response is bias. While Rafael has the edge in power, Izzy has the edge in combination punching. Chin and defense is probably a wash for either man. Seriously even after completing this article, I’m still conflicted about picking a winner of this fight. That is why I’m withholding my prediction and will just watch this fight with butterflies in my gut. If I gave you a prediction about a winner for this bout, I would be very disingenuous. However, despite my lack of a fight prediction; I’m pretty sure about two things: this fight won’t go to the judges and we will be treated to a hell of a fight. Well, as long as it will last.

Article posted on 02.03.2007

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