What Next For Rafael Marquez, Israel Vazquez?

by James Slater - Two of the greatest and most determined warriors ever to have come out of Mexico faced one another for the fourth and final time this past Saturday, as Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez concluded their fierce rivalry in Los Angeles. As fans know, the fourth clash was the poorest fight of the legendary series, with older man Marquez simply having way more left in the tank than the 31-year-old Vazquez (Marquez is 35 now); stopping "Magnifico" inside three-rounds..

Though the first three wars the two Mexican heroes had will remain safely in the place that is reserved only for the very special fights, the fourth bout was so one-sided a fifth, deciding clash, will not be necessary. Fittingly, the two men who fought their hearts out in 2007 and again in 2008, will be forever linked; with each man winning two fights and losing two in the series that lit up boxing like few ever have before. But what will be the next step each man takes?

Retirement is now a serious possibility for Vazquez; while a clash with either Vci Darchinyan or Juan Manuel Lopez could be on the cards for Marquez. At the post-fight press conference (as reported on Marquez, 39-5(35) boldly stated that he will fight "anybody," and that he especially wants "the best fighters in the [126-pound] division - Juan Manuel Lopez or any of the other champions." There was no real talk from or about Vazquez, other then whether or not he will actually hang up the gloves and call time on a truly memorable and thrilling career. If the former two-time champ who is now 44-5(32) does opt to walk away, he is safe in the knowledge that he has earned the right to do so, and that his place in boxing history is safe.

Marquez, however, wants fresh challenges still, even though he is fairly long in the tooth at age 35. And though the warrior from Mexico City could very likely get away with a couple of "easy" fights, seeing how he has already given enough of himself to the paying fans to get their respect, this is just not his way. Like the man he will forever be tied at 2-2 with, Marquez is as old-school and as brave as they come. Should we really be surprised that he wants to get it on with lethal punchers such as Lopez and Darchinyan!

Still, as brave as he is and as good as he looked on Saturday against a slow and faded Vazquez, would Marquez have a chance against "The Raging Bull" or "Juanma?" Well, when we take into account the sheer heart, the sheer will and the still considerable skills of Marquez, then, of course, he would have a chance against either southpaw; but can the former two-weight ruler actually beat them? Indeed, will Marquez perhaps be guilty of pushing his luck (and his body) too far if he signs on for a date with either banger?

This is a question his adoring fans will very possibly be asking themselves right now, but it is Marquez' decision to make when it comes to what he does next. Personally, I had a feeling Marquez AND Vazquez would either agree to a fifth fight or decide to retire after Saturday's fight; with both men feeling content and ready to walk away. And had this been the case, would it have been so bad? Both guys have nothing more to prove at all, and enshrinement in The Hall of Fame is a dead-cert for both fighters.

However - and my pre-fight feeling be damned - Marquez is not about to walk into the sunset; even if his former archrival is.

Article posted on 24.05.2010

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