Vazquez And Marquez Set For Third Battle

By Matthew Hurley: As Israel Vazquez, 42-4 with 31 KOs and Rafael Marquez, 37-4 with 33 KOs ready themselves to wage war on one another for a third time this Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California the two fighters will enter a fistic pantheon inhabited by only a select few. Rematches of great fights are rare but rubber matches are even scarcer..

There must be something utterly compelling about not only the two previous bouts but about the two fighters and their uncanny ability to bring out the best in each other. Vazquez and Marquez belong in the ring together; their last names necessitate a hyphen. Because of the explosive nature of their first two bouts, with a victory on either side, the hype machine for their third meeting has dubbed the collision ‘The Tiebreaker.’

In terms of recent history the Vazquez – Marquez super bantamweight rivalry probably compares most favorably with the thrilling trilogy between Mexican icons Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. Although the personal animosity is not present both Vazquez and Marquez bring the same level of professionalism, high level of commitment and superior skills to the ring that Morales and Barrera brought. The one glaring difference is that neither Morales nor Barrera was able to knock the other out. They merely clobbered each other for thirty-six rounds.

Marquez won the first battle after breaking Vazquez’s nose forcing him to surrender on his stool after the seventh round back in March. It was a leading candidate for fight of the year until they met again in August, somehow exceeding the expectations resulting from the first fight with what would become the fight of the year. In the rematch Vazquez turned the trick and stopped Marquez in the sixth round with a relentless attack that seemed to have been born from the moment he capitulated in the first fight. In some circles Vazquez was criticized for not continuing despite the severe injury to his nose and the whispers of “quitter” served as a mantra during his training camp. The injury to his pride was even more severe than his broken beak and he appeared to be a man on a mission as Marquez threw devastating shots that would have leveled lesser opponents. Indeed Marquez may have made a tactical error in the rematch in his willingness to engage his naturally bigger and stronger foe rather than use his technically superior skills to box his man. It’s a battle plan he says he will adopt for the rubber match.

“I made mistakes I don’t usually make,” Marquez said during an open workout session this past Monday. “I never leave myself open with my hands down the way I did in our rematch. I had to review the tape to realize the mistakes I made. I didn’t do what I had to do in the ring. It was many things.”

Marquez also maintains that the referee stopped the bout too quickly and while he may have a point further viewings of the fight indicate that Vazquez was not only surging but his chin, on that night, was impregnable. No matter how vicious a blow Marquez landed Israel kept coming. But Rafael feels that he had his opponent seriously hurt and simply got wild allowing Vazquez to escape.

“I know the last time that I had him hurt in the second and third rounds. When I saw him hurt, I got anxious for the win. I got careless. Still, I was very surprised that the referee let the fight keep going when he was hurt. I knew he was hurt and I kept throwing punches, but the referee didn’t do anything about it. When he (the referee) finally did stop the fight, I thought he was stopping it to save Vazquez from more punches. I didn’t think he was stopping it for me.”

For his part Vazquez feels that his sheer aggression will again wear Marquez down.

“Marquez is going to have to fight me, but I will push him around,” he told the media during his open workout session. “I will put pressure on him to get him off his rhythm, to make him change his strategy. If he wants to beat me he has to fight me blow by blow. No other way around it. But I will not give him the opportunity.”

The WBC champion also still bristles at the notion that he quit in the first fight. He still feels that if it weren’t for the severity of the injury he never would have lost to Marquez in the fist place.

“Some of my fans understood my decision (while) others did not. Some media members said I was a quitter and that I could have continued. I wanted to prove (in the rematch) to all of those who doubted me that I was more than capable to beat Marquez. The only feeling I had was the need for revenge.”

Vazquez also employed trainer Rudy Perez for the second bout. Perez, a wizard at tweaking established fighters and implementing subtle improvements without altering the fighter’s general style only had a few weeks to work with Vazquez in preparation for the rematch but now has had the opportunity of a full camp to prepare his fighter. Vazquez believes that the added benefit of Perez’s tutelage will be significant in the rubbermatch.

“We have adjusted very well. He is a great tactician and I am learning a lot of different things from him that have helped me.”

At the final press conference for the fight Marquez again vowed not to make the same mistakes that led to his downfall in the second bout.

“I know what it takes to beat Vazquez, I did it before so I will be ready for whatever he brings.”

Vazquez, a relatively soft-spoken individual, appeared to be relishing his time in the spotlight, smiling for the cameras and acknowledging his fans.

“When Maquez and I get together in the ring,” he said with a grin, “magic happens. I want to thank all my fans for their support.”

He then added, “Get ready for round thirteen.”

The boxing public can hardly wait.

Vazquez – Marquez III will be televised on Showtime Championship Boxing starting at 9:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Article posted on 29.02.2008

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