Israel Vazquez Makes Successful Return With 9th-Round TKO Over Angel Priolo, But Struggles
by James Slater - Israel "Magnifico" Vazquez made a successful return to the ring last night in Los Angeles fighting for the first time since the third of his brutal battles with Rafael Marquez. That 12-round war came in arch of 2008, and in taking on the little-known Angel Priolo yesterday, many people felt the 31-year-old former champion was entitled to a relatively easy fight. 35-year-old Priolo of Colombia, who was 30-7(20) coming in, had lost his previous six outings, all but one by stoppage, and he had fought a good number of his recent fights down at the 118-pound range.
But, perhaps due as much to ring rust as the possibility that he is a faded fighter due to all the hard battles he's been involved in, Vazquez had a tough time last night.. Fighting up at featherweight, and coming back after having had retinal problems, Vazquez once again had to dig deep to win, and he won in exciting fashion. Improving to 44-4(32), the Mexican great suffered a nasty-looking cut over his swollen left eye, and the action was far more competitive than a good number of people felt it would be.
Finally, after an admirable effort by the Colombian, "Magnifico" stopped his man with three knockdowns in the 9th-round, forcing referee Pat Russell to halt the bout at 2-minutes and 10-seconds of the round. So, on one hand Vazquez again thrilled his many fans, but on the other he looked as though his days as a world champion have perhaps gone.
There's no doubting how we should give the 31-year-old a break; after all he was fighting for the first time in well over a year-and-a-half. Vazquez was bound to be rusty and his timing was bound to be at least a little off. But had Vazquez not got the stoppage in the 9th as he did, he may have had to have settled for a very close points win. At the time of the stoppage, Vazquez was up by a score of 78-74 on one card, and the fight was all even at 76-76 on the other two cards of the judges.
The thought of a Vazquez loss reared its head in the fight for another reason; the cut. The ringside doctor came to look at the nasty cut in the intermission between the 7th and 8th rounds, but decided to let the fight go. A number of fights have been stopped on lesser cuts.
It's good that the popular and respected Vazquez won, even though he didn't get the easy tune-up he had perhaps hoped for (but then again, does Vazquez ever look for an easy fight!?!) but there are many questions now regarding his future. Will he look to a fight with Juan Manuel Lopez, who surprisingly struggled last night with Rogers Mtagwa? Or will Vazquez look for a fourth fight with rival Marquez? Both fights will likely be tough ones for the man who has been a pro since 1995.