Sharkie's Machine: Marquez vs. Vasquez III, One of the Greatest Rivalries in Boxing

By Frank Gonzalez Jr., photo by SUMIO YAMADA: March 1st, 2008 - It was a year ago that they met for the first time in the ring, Marquez was the WBC Champ then and after six brutal rounds, Marquez had broken Vasquez’ nose so badly that he couldn’t breathe, so he retired on his stool. Marquez got the win and they signed up for a rematch five months later, where Vasquez won by TKO 6 after the referee stopped the fight after Marquez was being hammered and not answering with punches. Marquez is tough as nails and refused to even believe what happened. They signed up to fight again seven months later..

vazquezSaturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson California, WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Israel Vasquez (43-4, 32 KO’s), one of the best power punchers in the sport fought that rubber match against one of the sharpest boxer-punchers in the boxing, Rafael Marquez (37-5, 33 KO’s). It was an amazing fight and a definite candidate for “Fight of the Year” honors.

No Mariachi bands, no pre-fight swipes, no confetti, no hype, just pure, unadulterated fisticuffs from the first bell to the last.

Marquez won many of the early rounds with his powerful jab and combinations. Vasquez started to win more rounds late with his well timed punches that had Marquez in trouble a few times.

The referee deserves credit for a job well done. He made the right calls when he made them. Marquez was penalized for a low blow after numerous warnings. The last round saw the ref make the right call in a tough spot.

The Fight

Round One
Marquez led with his jab, following with rights and combos in spots. Marquez landed a nice body shot. Marquez in charge until Vasquez started landing some power shots that hurt Marquez, including an uppercut to the chin late in the round. Marquez went back to the jab and retakes the momentum as the bell sounds. Vasquez left eye reddened. 10-9 Marquez.

Round Two
Vazquez used his jab to get in closer and was effective. Vasquez landed a clean right. In close, Vasquez is dangerous. Marquez jabbed outside to retake a moment of the tempo. Vasquez pressured Marquez and during the exchanges, landed the bigger punches. Marquez best scores came from the jab. Vasquez landed a right hook and uppercut that stunned Marquez. A great fight as they exchange punches until Vasquez landed a big right as the bell rang. 10-9 Vasquez.

Round Three
Marquez looked great throwing his jab. Vasquez double jab stunned Marquez. Marquez kept landing his jab and an occasional right to follow. Marquez landed a low blow and gets a light warning from referee Pat Russell. 10-9 Marquez.

Round Four
Vasquez led with pressure, always punching and landing something. Marquez landed a strong right. Lot of action. Marquez landed more often but with less pop in his punches. Head butt occurred. Vasquez looked to suffer more from the butt. Marquez clocked Vasquez with a right and Vasquez was hurt and covered up. Marquez came forward and unleashed punches, many that scored and a right put Vasquez down for a count. Vasquez got up quick, and then rocked Marquez with a left hook and a double overhand right and was chasing Marquez down—as if HE was going for the finish! Incredible! Marquez came back with a solid left hook followed by an uppercut that stunned Vasquez. What a battle! 10-8 Marquez.

Vasquez corner told him to stay on the inside.

Round Five
Marquez was fighting ‘long,’ popping his jab and doing his best work when he kept Vasquez on the outside and at a distance. It was a very technical display from Marquez, who also did some work to the body. All Marquez, jabbing and controlling the action. Vasquez landed a big right hand to Marquez face near the ropes. Marquez 10-9.

Round Six
Marquez’ jab is the story of the fight so far. Vasquez landed a few good right hands. Vasquez got Marquez on the ropes and went to work, landing at will with good clean shots that were hurting Marquez. Another low blow by Marquez, referee warned him strongly, saying he’d take a point next time. They traded shots and Marquez landed another low punch unnoticed by the referee. 10-9 Vasquez.

By the midpoint, Marquez looked clean and uncut. Vasquez had a gash over one eye, reddening over the other one.

Round Seven
Vasquez was more aggressive and worked his way in close where he didn’t mind taking a shot to deliver one of his own. Marquez’ right eye started to close and Vasquez was aiming that way. Vasquez took the momentum as he kept his right hand in the face and body of Marquez. Marquez landed a left hook to the jaw of Vasquez. Left upper cut by Marquez, who stole the round with a crowd pleasing rally, relentless to the bell. 10-9 Marquez.

Round Eight
Lots of action! Both try to reassert themselves quickly. Marquez jabs, Vasquez shot power punches into Marquez face and body. They switch roles and scored. What a GREAT fight! Big right by Vasquez rocked Marquez. Vasquez pressed Marquez toward the ropes and shot his combinations with no regard for the return fire. The tide is turning. Vasquez’s power started to take over. 10-9 Vasquez.

Round Nine
Marquez makes it a boxing match, staying away, moving and popping his jab up or down. Vasquez effectively pressed forward into the chest of Marquez maintained control of the round, mindful to crack Marquez with heavy rights until about 10 seconds to go, when Marquez rocked Vasquez with a left uppercut, right cross combination that wobbled Vasquez just before the bell. 10-9 Vasquez.

Round Ten
Lots of back and forth action. Vasquez pursued Marquez with his jab, forcing him towards the ropes and letting the leather fly. Marquez landed a nice combination that caused Vasquez to hold. Marquez popped a power right straight into Vasquez face. Marquez landed another low punch and the ref stopped the action to take a point from Marquez, who protested the call. Vasquez moved in and Marquez had something for his ass as he peppered him with clean combinations that turned Vasquez’ offense back into defense. The bell rang. Damn…how do you score this round? 10-9 Vasquez compliments of the point deduction.

Round Eleven
Vasquez was taking aim at Marquez’ left eye, which was swollen like a fat lip and closing fast. Marquez takes a lot of shots to the face. Marquez moved a lot on defense. Vasquez kept on him. Marquez landed a few good shots but Vasquez landed more and heavier. Feels like Marquez is fading until with ten seconds left, Marquez lit up like a firecracker and the burst into fisticuffs until the bell sounded. What a fight!! 10-9 Vasquez.

Round Twelve
Vasquez landed a crushing right, they slugged it out. Vasquez the hunter, Marquez, the hunted. Vasquez rocked Marquez with a left hook to the face, followed by a right and a clinch initiated by Marquez. Right hook Vasquez, Vasquez combo. Marquez running. Marquez held on. Vasquez goes for the knockout and lands a slew of punches that staggered Marquez, who clinched. Vasquez landed shoeshine upstairs, Marquez staggers into ropes from a series of Vasquez punches. Marquez held onto the ropes but it was clear by his rubbery legs and semi conscious look on his face that he was down. If the ropes weren’t there, he’d have fallen down for certain. The ref rightly counted. Marquez was up and protesting the call. The bell rang. It was over. 10-8 Vasquez with a BANG, not a whimper.

The official scores were 114-111 for Vasquez, 114-111 for Marquez and 113-112 for Vasquez, who won by Split Decision. Not to be a trouble maker but can you imagine if World Title fights were fought at 15 rounds instead of 12? I had it close and can see how anyone could have scored this fight close within 3 points for either guy. Vasquez did do the more telling damage and Marquez was the better technical boxer.

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During the post fight interview, Marquez was asked if he thought he won the fight. He said yes, by a point or two. Marquez showed frustration again at the consequences of two calls by the referee. First, he said the punch for which he lost a point, was actually a legal punch. The replays showed it was a borderline shot. But Marquez had been warned a few times prior for low punches, so it’s hard to make too big a case for this. The second gripe was the ref counting him down in the final moments of the last round in the corner ropes. If the ropes weren’t there, Marquez would have fallen backwards onto the floor, outside of the ring. Marquez ended the interview saying that he wasn’t down, and that this was bullshit.

The truth will visit him when he watches the tapes.

Vasquez was gracious and humble, said he did what he had to do to win. When asked about the deduction on Marquez in the tenth, he said that Marquez did get away with a few head butts as well as low blows.

Maybe as a lead up to their fourth fight, Marquez and Vasquez ought to take on one of the other belt holders in their division. If they can beat the others and get their belts, it would make the fourth fight more interesting since they’d be fighting for all the belts and the True Championship.

Who’s out there at Super Bantam? You have Steve Molitor (26-0, 10 KO’s) of Canada. He’s scheduled to face Fernando Beltran Jr. in April. There’s current WBA champ, Celestino Caballero (28-2, 19 KO’s) who’ll be busy this coming May with a rematch against the formidable Daniel Ponce De Leon (34-1, 30 KO’s). Either Vasquez or Marquez should be able to sign fights with either winners of those fights.

I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see Marquez or Vasquez fight besides each other. Bring on Marquez vs. Vasquez IV! What fight fan would miss that? For blood and guts, you got to go with the rivalry of Gatti vs. Ward. For pure slugfest at a higher skill set, you got to go with Barrera vs. Morales but when it comes to overall blood and guts, high quality boxing skills and non stop action, Marquez vs. Vasquez is my pick for best rivalry so far of the twenty-first Century.

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Article posted on 02.03.2008

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