Abner Mares-Yonnhy Perez may deliver what Vasquez-Marquez promises on paper

boxingBy Matt McGrain: The noise in the wake of the third Vasquez-Marquez war, the best fight I’ve ever seen in colour, was deafening, but if you listened closely, you heard a murmur of discontent. The word was that the two men felt that what they were losing, what each man was taking away from the other in that ring, made the price they were paying to high, that a fourth fight would not be possible. Both men took a deserved and lengthy period of rest and recovery, including surgery for Vasquez, before embarking on an almost furtive comeback. Rafael Marquez was first, though not in time to save his p4p Ring ranking which was stripped from him for inactivity. Nevertheless, after 14 months out of the ring, he was back, albeit at 126lbs, the super-bantamweight division left behind in a bid to spare his body that particular rigour. I, we all, I’m sure, watched for signs of the expected rust, and certainly they were there for all to see, his timing out, his accuracy seemingly betraying him, Marquez looked every inch the hurt fighter he may very well be. Fighting in Mexico for the first time since 2001, he probably knew it..

As for Vasquez, he waited longer. His opponent for his October 2009 comeback fight was the veteran, Antonio Priolo. Knocked out inside of six round in five of his previous six outings, all of which were losses, he was made for a rusty Vasquez. Surely the brutal punching pressure-cooker warrior could do what 24-32 Paulino Villalobos could do and blast beefed up bantamweight Priolo out before the end of the sixth? Unfortunately Israel’s featherweight debut was to be even more inauspicious than his blood brother’s. In what Ring called a “blood spilling tightrope walk” of a fight, he finally put his hapless former Columbian flyweight champion away at the third time of asking in the ninth. Two judges had the fight even on the cards going into that round.

IV had been mooted throughout of course, and when both men came through unbeaten - though hardly unscathed - it was probably inevitable that the fight be made. Furthermore, it is rumoured that the original barrier to the fight happening - that the men were giving away to much of themselves against one another in return for so little - had been overcome by a payday which was in excess of those paid to the fighters in their three wars. Good. Of that we can be glad, because these two deserve a payday and hopefully, afterwards, gracious retirement with their health as firmly in tact as is possible. That said, what do we as fans expect from this fourth battle between these great warriors? After all, this is the entertainment business, if the strong-men at this particular circus happen to bleed during the performance, so what - right?

Vasquez talks of a new strategy, of showing Marquez something knew. He needs to. The fact is Vasquez looked terrible last time out, he has slowed badly. Marquez hit him hard and often in the last fight, Vasquez needed that knockdown in the last round to take the decision, he was basically out-landed. Vasquez is coming to the ring bringing what he has and no more after fighting more wars in his career than some fighters have fights. So why won’t he be hit more often and just as hard this time? Disturbingly, his one hope seems to be that Marquez is in similar shape: “We are in the same boat. In a way, neither one of us has to worry how active the other was.”

My guess is that Israel is bang on and this fight is going to be decided by which of the two has more left. Marquez, like Vasquez, has refused an additional tune up despite the fact that it will be one day short of a year since his last fight at the time of the opening bell for Vasquez IV. I believe this was because the money men, and perhaps the fighters, were frightened that one or the other might lose, spoiling the biggest pay-day either man could muster, or that further poor performances would take the shine off the gate…like I said, the entertainment business, in which the bottom line speaks loudest. This may mean that Marquez has slipped again, and that whilst Vasquez has shaken off his ring rust in more recent bout, Marquez will have to shake his off all over again. However, I think he will have time for this in the fight. Vasquez was painfully slow against Priolo and watching him struggle to get himself across whilst dropping rounds was a haunting sight. Against a puncher like Marquez it may get an awful lot more haunting very soon. Trying to box might net Vasquez the first round against a vastly diminished and rusty Marquez, but after that I see it as all down hill for the great warrior, forced to put it all on the line against a more complete fighter after dropping rounds two, three and four I see him taking a bad beating in a depressing fight. My greatest hope is that the referee spares the man’s pride and pulls him for a cut in the middle rounds, because as well as being haunted by Vasquez’s last performance, I’m haunted by his words: “We are both warriors and have that will to win. We fight for our fans and we always want to give our all.”

But perhaps the fans are asking a little much this time?

There are no such misgivings about the main attraction on the undercard, however. In fact it’s reassuring by comparison.

Yonnhy Perez and Abner Mares are not struggling desperately to make the bantamweight limit. They are not old(31 and 24 respectively). They are not used up in brutal wars, they are not cashing in their last check in a risky fight that puts their health at risk, any more than is normal at least.

They are both hungry - Perez is the more established of the two, but this is the first defence of his title. They are both punchers, Perez has dispatched fourteen of his twenty opponents, and in a pleasing near-symmetry, Mares has dispatched thirteen of his twenty foes. Perez has more experience at the highest level, but only by virtue of the fact that he has come to the title - it is not as though Mares is stepping in over his head, in fact he has boxed more professional rounds than the champion.

What of their styles? Here is where things get interesting. Perez is a decent boxer with a good technical guard who can win rounds boxing behind those high hands, but who is there to fight, right in front of his man, looking to land, all guts, as dangerous in a brawl as a boxing match. Mares is there to be hit, to square for his own good sometimes, but he has excellent offence, look for a sneaky left to the body and his money punch, a lightning right-hand over the top. He looks to me like the type of fighter that will inevitably draw the right kind of opponent into a war, presenting chances whilst landing hard punches of his own - the Vasquez to Perez’s Marquez? Probably, it’s to much to hope for that on the night those two great warriors (hopefully) bow out they are replaced like for like by two punching bantamweight warriors…probably. For one thing, neither is anything like as proven in the heart or chin department, and whoever replaces Vasquez and Marquez (if they can even be replaced), they will need buckets of both. But at the very least I expect to see an exciting fight with plenty of exchanges in the centre of the ring, Mares going back, Perez creeping forwards, a decisive knockout, probably going Perez’s way…maybe even in the same round that Marquez stops Vasquez.

Good luck to all four.

Article posted on 20.05.2010

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