Rafael Marquez-Toshiaka Nishioka - Can The Modern Day Mexican Legend Win Another World Title?

By James Slater: Mexican great Rafael Marquez is surely heading into the final stages of his illustrious career at age 36, yet the modern day legend is still hungry for more world title glory. Next up for the former long-reigning bantamweight and super-bantamweight king is a drop back down to 122-pounds and a shot at classy Japanese fighter Toshiaka Nishioka’s World Boxing Council (WBC) crown.

After coming up short against the then undefeated Juan Manuel Lopez last November - in yet another great fight, fought up at featherweight - Marquez got himself a confidence booster in the form of a stoppage win over Eduardo Becerril last month. There was talk of a return with Lopez, seeing as how the 8th-round retirement win “Juanma” scored was such a good fight, but instead Marquez chose to go back down to his more natural weight class. Can he defeat the 38-4-3(24) champ from Tokyo?

The fight will be held on October 1st, in Las Vegas, so Marquez will not have to make the long trip to Japan, which could prove to be a big factor. Nishioka has boxed and won in Vegas before, but never has he engaged in such a big headlining fight under the neon lights. Could the pressure of the event faze the defending champion? At age 35, Nishioka is no spring chicken himself, but he really has been on a roll over the last few years. Unbeaten in his last 15 outings, Nishioka has shown no signs of slowing down.

A southpaw and a fast-handed aggressive type who likes to engage, Nishioka has seen off good men like Jhonny Gonzalez (W TKO3), Ivan Hernandez (W RTD3) and, more recently, Rendall Munroe (WU12) and Mauricio Javier Munoz (W KO9). Stopped just one time in his long career (by Masahiko Nakamura, way back in 1995, in what was Nishioka’s second pro fight), the only guy Nishioka has had real trouble with whilst in his prime is Thailand’s Veerphol Sahaprom - who he went 0-2-2 with. Since the last of his battles with the Thai, though, Nishioka has kept a clean sheet.

Arguably at his championship peak right now, and enjoying being champ and now looking forward to future big fights, Nishioka will fight hard so as not to let Marquez derail him in October.

How much has Marquez got left? Will Nishioka’s southpaw stance trouble him? Will the shoulder injury Marquez picked up in the Lopez fight serve to come back and haunt him? Is Nishioka about to face the best fighter he has ever met?

Both men are fine body punchers and this one figures to be lively, with lots of punches thrown from both sides. There is pretty much nothing in it between the two when it comes to height and reach; as is the same with the age factor. A solid-looking match-up between two highly experienced fighters, the fight at The MGM Grand could wind up being one of the year’s unexpected treats.

Both men are true champions in every sense of the word (there will be no bad blood or trash-talk of any kind going into this fight) and both men have good skills. Marquez can box and he can fight; Nishioka is the same.

I lean slightly towards Marquez to be able to pull off a close points win. But again, it all depends on how much the Mexican has left in the tank.

Article posted on 10.08.2011

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