VASQUEZ vs. MARQUEZ? (Answer: see Pacquiao vs. Morales)

vazquez27.02.08 - By “Old Yank” Schneider: Boxing trilogies are easy to predict, right? We all knew Joe Frazier was going to retire on his stool at the end of the 14th round in the final leg of his trilogy against Mohamed Ali. Micky Ward was bound to come up short after dropping Arturo Gatti in the 6th stanza of their third meeting. The outcome of the final bout of the Marco Antonio Barrera series against Erik Morales was easy to predict and as certain as the non-controversial scorecards in their first two meetings. And Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield were surely going to bore us to death in their final meeting, so who even bothered to tune in?

Since Rafael Marquez is a virtual unanimous decision guarantee in the trilogy bout against Israel Vasquez, this is bound to be as easy to predict as all great trilogies. I mean, since Vasquez is a lay-up certainty in stopping Marquez inside the distance, just plan on setting up your bookie for the easiest pickpocket session of the century.. What I actually want to forecast is the absolute, indisputable outcome of this bout as a draw. I mean…how do you do this bout justice in attempting to predict the outcome?

Here is how I see things lining up in the likely final meeting of these two great warriors.

First, let’s look at the size match up. There is a reason why a welterweight is generally considered smaller than a middleweight. Likewise, there is a reason why a bantamweight is considered smaller than a super bantamweight. For all practical purposes Raphael Marquez spent his entire pro boxing career at the 118 pound limit of bantamweight. His first match at super bantam was his TKO win over Vasquez. Israel Vasquez, on the other hand, has built his career at the 122 pound limit of super bantam. The naturally larger man in this bout is Vasquez.

Marquez will have a slight height and reach advantage over Vasquez, but this is not likely a large enough advantage to overcome his naturally smaller body. With Vasquez the naturally larger man, he is also likely the naturally stronger man. We have two bouts to review between these two fighters that suggest that the Marquez height and reach advantage is more than nullified by Vasquez’s ability to use his strength to pressure his way inside.

In terms of pure boxing ability, I have to like what I see in Marquez. He is a counter-punching machine and he has a pin-point accurate jab. He can punch in combination and he can string combinations together with great speed. His punches are so crisp, strong and accurate that only a hide of leather is totally resistant to the risks of getting cut up. And Vasquez does not have a hide of leather. Vasquez was a bloody mess in each of the first two legs of this trilogy, and this could be a huge factor. The better pure boxing stylist in this fight is Marquez.

But there is an old adage in boxing, “Don’t try to out-hook a hooker”! There are few better practitioners of the left hook than Vasquez. If Vasquez is able to pressure his way in, we will likely see a battle of hooks and this is a battle that is very difficult for Marquez to win. And this leads us to the question of who has the power advantage? Since Vasquez was able to drop Marques once in each bout, I must give the power advantage to Vasquez.

So this is looking very even as we go into the final bout of the trilogy. Is there a way to get closer to picking this fight? Yes there possibly is a way to predict this fight; use the Manny Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales trilogy as the model.

In the first meeting between Morales and Pacquiao, Morales was able to open up a bad cut over Pacquiao’s right eye with an accidental head butt. The cut seemed to bother Pacquiao a lot and was an apparent huge distraction. Unable to keep his composure, Pacquiao was taken out of his fight. In spite of landing a couple of staggering shots in the 12th round, Pacquiao came up short on the scorecards. Without controversy, Morales had the first bout of this classic trilogy in the bag.

But what might have happened had Pacquiao not been distracted by the injury? I propose that the second and third fights of this trilogy provide the answer to this question. Without any distractions, Pacquiao won the second two fights by TKO. We all knew he had the power to take any man at 130 out, so Morales proved to be no exception.

Using the Pacquiao vs. Morales trilogy as the model, what are the similarities? Just as Pacquiao was the likely stronger of the two, Vasquez is the likely stronger than Marquez. Just has Morales had the height and reach advantage and won the first bout, Marquez had the height and reach advantage and won the first bout against Vasquez. Pacquiao was able to impose his strength in the second meeting and so too was Vasquez able to impose his strength advantage in the second meeting. But more importantly, Vasquez was seriously distracted by an injury in the first bout with Marquez. Just as we can question what the outcome of Morales/Pacquiao #1 might have been without a Pacquiao injury, we can raise the same question for Marquez/Vasquez #1. And I propose that without the distraction of a fight-stopping injury, we might very well have had the same result as we saw in Marquez/Vasquez #2 – a TKO stoppage of Marquez by Vasquez.

Taking the Morales/Pacquiao model to its logical conclusion, let’s apply it to the final leg of the Marquez/Vasquez trilogy. We all know that boxing trilogies are easy to predict, right? Before making the easy prediction, know that the wild card here is if Marquez can do what Morales was unable to do; find a distraction to take Vasquez out of his game. So with the same confidence as knowing that Frazier would run out of gas, I predict Vasquez will win by a TKO.

Article posted on 28.02.2008

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