Marquez-VazquezPhoto: TOM CASINO/SHOWTIME : The four fighters competing in the 122-pound world title fights Saturday on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast) made weight easily Friday. Former WBC champion Israel Vazquez (left) and defending WBC super bantamweight champion Rafael Marquez each weighed in at 121 pounds. Challenger Jorge Lacierva tipped scale at 121 pounds, while reigning WBA 122-pound titleholder Celestino Caballero weighed 121 1/2.

03.08.07 - by Francisco Lobo: With its passionate characters, perfectly matched pugilistic confrontation and rearranged expectations, Golden Boy Promotions, Gary Shaw Productions and Showtime Boxing Championship present the highly antecipated, most awaited rematch between Rafael Marquez and Israel Vasquez for the WBC Super-Bantamweight Championship of the World at the Dodge Arena, Hidalgo, Texas this coming Saturday Night, August the 4th..

In March the 3rd, at the Home Depot Center, Carson, California, most of the fans attended one extraordinally well boxed fight that lived up to its billing as long as it lasted.

The first fight between former Champion Vazquez and Challenger Marquez was a non-stop action, jam packed, boxing’s true definition of a war an enthralling, an enthralling, composed fistic tale with enough twists to satisfy even fans who have learned to expect breathtaking and revelatory surprises. So much so that Showtime Television had in their message voting results and immediately prior to the fight, 69% of viewers predicting a Marquez win, 28% having it for Vazquez and just 3% believed in a draw verdict, Rafael Marquez happened to be the only fighter to have been floored 1 minute 38 seconds into round number 3 when he was having the early edge, and the fight was abruptly stopped upon suggestion of Israel Vazquez corner precisely when he was said to be shifting the course of the fight toward his way.

Actually, Vazquez predicted himself a kayo win in round number 7 based on the fact that former bantamweight Marquez, on his move up to super bantamweight for the first time, wouldn’t be able to take his punch and to what Marquez responded, questioning the former champion how did he know it would go seven… Apart from the fighters imaginative foresight and the brutal reality that often twisted through them, the fight was in fact interrupted after seven and before the eight stanza since Vazquez opted out for a severe nose injury that made breathing throughout the fight virtually impossible for him.

And although, they’d not been acquaintances in their boyhood, in Mexico City, and their choices had been opposites, they’d landed them pretty much in the same boat – two accomplished bantam/super-bantamweight fighters fighting for supremacy but at the same time, two chilangos, Mexico City born, in whom handlers labored to invest with the refinements their childhood had so sorely lacked.

28 year old Israel Vazquez (with a professional record of 41-4, 30 KOs) used to work in a Funeral House in Mexico City with his father, and had his pro debut in the same year Marquez first fought professionally, back in 1995, but unlike him, Rafa was put against former world Champion Victor Rabanales, losing by kayo in eight back in September 14, 1995, “El Magnifico” won 16 straight in Mexico City (including a stunning first round kayo win against famed Oscar “Chololo” Larios in his 13th pro fight, April 12, 1997). 32 year old Rafael Marquez (with a professional record of 37-3, 33 KOs), son of a professional fighter himself and brother of the famous Super-Featherweight Champion Juan Manuel Marquez, part time painting toys and dolls in a factory, won 12 straight fights after that pro debut loss, proving his punching power with 11 kayos inside four rounds, but lost again by TKO in his 14th pro fight to Francisco Mateos in three rounds, had more nine wins and all by knockout but met his third and last defeat in his 24th fight to Genaro Garcia (2nd round kayo loss) in Denver, CO, as far as in November 12, 2000.

Vazquez came to the US almost 10 years ago to win a 6 rounder against Antonio Ramirez, March 15, 1998, and has lived in the Los Angeles area ever since because his dreams kept him going and motivated him, lost his first professional fight in March 27, 1999, that was a twelve round decision in his 22nd fight against Marcos Licona. Won 12 straight after that just to lose again in his 35th pro fight in a 12th round TKO to the hands of Oscar Larios in the rematch, May 17, 2002, Sacramento, CA. After that, won the WBC Super-Bantamweight Crown when he stopped Jose Luis Valbuena in Las Vegas, NV, March 25, 2004.

A little bit earlier, Marquez had a celebrated win in a close fight, a ten rounder against Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson in Corpus Christi, TX, October 6, 2001, and bettered that result in Vegas, February 23, 2002 against the same Mark Johnson with a 8th round TKO - Rafa Marquez would win soon afterwards the IBF Bantamweight Title against Tim Austin, February 15, 2003 with another TKO in the eight. While Vasquez was defending the WBC Super-Bantam Strap, finishing off in five the number one ranked, previously undefeated Artyon Simonyan, December 28, 2004, and scoring a 12 round decision over rangy Armando Guerrero, May 31, 2005, Marquez defended eight times the IBF Bantamweight title, winning twice against Silence Mabuza with a 4th round TKO in November 5, 2005 and with a 9th round TKO in August 5, 2006, both in Stateline, Vegas, right before he moved up in weight. The fights that have propelled Israel Vazquez to stardom were probably when he stopped Larios in 3 rounds (knockdown in the very first round and badly cut in the second) for the rubber match in Vegas, December 3, 2005, winning in four against Ivan Hernandez in Atlantic City, June 10, 2006 and coming off the floor twice to stop the tall WBO Bantamweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez in the Fight of the Year 2006, September 16, in LasVegas.

As soon as Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez had gone to the edge and the first emerged triumphantly from that March 2007 see-saw battle, Showtime Television broadcasters Steve Albert, Al Bernstein and interviewer Jim Gray urged on the rematch with the very same arguments used for the first meeting – it simply had to happen! The result of these actions were that Vazquez underwent surgery and had his nose blockage removed and healed in 2 months, changed trainers from the over demanded Freddie Roach to Marco Antonio Barrera’s chief second Rudy Perez, signed the rematch 3 months ago and has taken only 8 weeks to prepare himself for the rematch.

The rematch has been billed as “The Vengeance” 1 month ago in the Rio Grande Valley Press Conference and based on it and what else has been mentioned, it seems senseful to say that die-hard, old school warrior Vazquez was clearly rushed into this fight date by his Promotional Company, Golden Boy P., and Marquez Promotional Company, Gary Shaw Productions, even if he doesn’t admit so. Even more so because WBA Super-Bantamweight Titlist Celestino Caballero takes on challenger Jorge Lucierna in the same card and that leads to say that there are more interests at stake, a possible WBC-WBA Title unification and a clarification on who’s the Super-Bantamweight of the world (The Ring Magazine proclaimed Rafael Marquez since he fought Vazquez).

Israel holds on to his prerogative and Showtime Television’s that the first was a even, close contested fight and that the injury itself was what really stood in between Vazquez and that 8th round turn-around.

The Dynamic, explosive former WBC Champ is a good ring technician offensively and has every right to believe and suggest Marquez would somehow fade as the fight goes on just like happened to Jhonny Gonzales. Vasquez invokes that Rudy Perez made him aware of his vulnerabilities (Roach couldn’t do it cause he was working with Hoya for the May 5th fight and joined Vazquez a very short time prior to the fight), Rudy prepared him for Marquez early attack and he can strategize better than Roach could through an interpreter.

Vazquez can surely make the most of: 1) his ability to apply pressure when he gets inside; 2) his greater commitment to work the body; 3) his legitimate argument of being able to turn around the fight with one punch, the sort of left hook Rafael had not been able to shake loose and which had him moving unsteadily toward referee Raul Caiz Jr., or that big left bomb that snapped the head of Marquez in the 7th and last round. Maybe, Israel can be more polished tactically and have worked on his questionable, vulnerable defense with body, head and lateral movement, perhaps he can those cracks on Marquez armour and exposes what he believes rightfully is his opponent’s inability to take his punch.

So, as we get set to watch the 8th round of the Marquez-Vazquez novel sequel, ca, by some transforming means, Vazquez make Marquez the man we seemed to think vastly superior but the shadow of? Long time Marquez brothers chief second Nacho Beristain and the pound for pound hardest puncher in the world may have different ideas. They may question how can Vasquez can steal those two key elements in Rafael’s Game, punching power into boxing I.Q. and talent, how can Vazquez steal Marquez power in both hands in his heavy combination accurate punching, how can Marquez get behind on the scorecards if he has the edge in handspeed and ammunition?

How can Marquez not score with the sort of strong, stiff, double jabs that had Vazquez momentarily hurt and reeling back to the ropes to show tremendous poise and fight back hardly afterwards? How can Marquez not make Vazquez pay with his often lazy, slow left jab with authoritative, blistering right hands to the temple, the sort of slashing rights which exacerbated Mebuza’s cuts, taking advantage of his single 1’’ height advantage ( 5’5 ½’’ Marquez -5’4 ½’’ Vazquez)? And how can Israel test Rafael’s tendency to fade from round 3 to round 7 like against Mebuza and several others if he’s going to counter-punch Marquez on his early offense, even if his improved schnooz, rhinoplastic adjustment withstands when tagged, very much in opposition to what happened in his last two fights?

Israel Vasquez said “ That is why the sparkle will be in the air and maybe it will fall into the gunpowder and with any movement it will explode” – in whose face will that gunpowder explode is the rightful question to be answered from that long awaited eight round where they left over five moths ago.

Article posted on 03.08.2007

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