It was there on the Gary Shaw Productions fight card and televised live around the world on Showtime’s Championship Boxing telecast, that the trilogy came to an end as WBC super bantamweight champion Israel Vazquez (43-4, 32 KOs) won a twelve round hard fought split decision victory over former world champion Rafael Marquez (37-5, 33 KOs).
Leading into last night’s third encounter, there were understandably high expectations that this would be a battle of the ages. What transpired over twelve octane fuelled rounds far exceeded all of the boxing world’s expectations.
Make no mistake about it, this would have been a classic matchup in any era of boxing, and this trilogy deserves a place alongside any of the other legendary trilogies you can think of.
Having been knocked out in the sixth round of their previous encounter, it was anticipated that Rafael Marquez would try and utilize his superior boxing skills and movement while trying to avoid being pulled into the trenches by the more physically imposing Vasquez. That is exactly how things played out in the first round. Working off his back foot, Marquez used a jab to keep his opponent at bay.
The former champion mixed in some good uppercuts, however in the last thirty seconds of the round, Vasquez finally caught up with him by landing a blistering three punch combination that had Marquez’ s legs looking a little wobbly.
The second stanza saw both fighters continue with their strategies. Marquez looked the more skillful of the two combatants as he was able to use angles along with his accurate punching to catch Vasquez as he advanced forward.
Perhaps not fully healed from their last bruising encounter, Vasquez already started to look a little red over both of his eye brows. Once again at the end of the round Vasquez found a way to get in close and landed some punishing shots on his adversary, but it was not enough to claim the round away from Marquez.
Throughout the third stanza this pattern continued as Marquez, although landing more punches than his opponent, had to work hard as he constantly had to switch directions to avoid being pinned against the ropes by the reigning WBC champion. What was noticeable however was that every time Vasquez did land a punch, he also appeared to shake-up his opponent who has been known in the past to have a questionable chin throughout much of his career.
The fourth round was when the fight really caught fire. Marquez landed a booming right hand which he followed with a rapid two fisted assault that dropped Vasquez for the first time in their series of fights midway through the round.
Vasquez was hurt and didn’t immediately leap to his feet as he received the mandatory standing eight count from referee Pat Russell. When the fight resumed, Marquez charged in for the kill only to find himself the recipient of a blistering two fisted counter attack from his gutsy foe.
With the crowd on its feet both men continued to trade landing thunderous shots from either hand. It was open to debate as to who got the better of the ensuing action, either way this was again a round in the bank for the challenger Marquez.
Marquez followed up the success he had in the previous round by landing combinations. He also managed to find a home on the chin of Vasquez by connecting with a big right hand.
Already the faces of both fighters were beginning to look marked up as Marquez’s left eye was starting to close. As in previous rounds, Vasquez finished strongly but had to endure taking a lot of shots while continuing to press the action ahead.
On this reporters score card he had yet to win a round, however he looked to be gaining ground and momentum as his unrelenting pressure was beginning to make Marquez a little uncomfortable and at times desperate.
The sixth round was Vasquez’s best of the fight so far. He came out of his corner very aggressively and really had his way with Marquez, who was starting to flounder under the pressure. His legs were becoming noticeably tired and had a very shaky look to them as he backpedaled his way around the ring and tried to stay off the ropes.
The damage to the faces of both fighters was starting to become alarming as although neither appeared cut, the punishment was taking its toll. On a couple of occasions in the previous rounds Marquez strayed low with a shot and was warned by the referee.
The seventh saw Marquez regain the initiative under heavy fire as he chose to stand his ground and trade with his rampaging foe. This was a tough round to score as unlike in previous rounds Vasquez had early success bouncing big shots landing off his opponent’s head. It was Marquez however who closed the round strongly by landing a scorching combination that stopped Vasquez in his tracks and again had him looking vulnerable.
Another exciting round ensued in the eighth as it was Vasquez who was clearly gaining momentum now although it was still tooth and nail all the way. Sure he was being outworked, but Marquez still looked the flashier of the two when he chose to stand and double up on his punches.
At this stage his left eye was completely shut and his punch output was dropping. Still always dangerous and in the fight, Vasquez never stopped moving his head to avoid being caught and remained elusive.
Vasquez on my scorecard still had some catching up to do as the fight entered the ninth round. As is his way he was getting stronger and busier with every passing round and was clearly out hustling the now weakening Marquez.
Again this was a tough round to score as right at the last few seconds Marquez landed a stunning three punch combination that visibly buckled the legs of the champion Vasquez. Ever cognizant of the time left in the round and with the ring presence of a champion, Marquez knew to turn on the pressure at the end of the round in the hopes of stealing the round from his opponent.
In terms of scoring the fight, the tenth round would prove to be pivotal. Once again it was a give and take round. Vasquez the busier fighter, while Marquez landed the more impressive eye catching shots, unfortunately once again Marquez strayed low and after numerous warnings left referee Russell little choice but to deduct a point. Despite roaring back and landing some truly devastating shots that hurt his opponent at the conclusion of the round, Marquez saw a winnable round for him suddenly just slip away.
In the penultimate round Vasquez charged out of his corner and nearly ran a fading Marquez out of the ring. He must have known he had given a lot of the early rounds away and was now fighting like a man possessed.
For his part Marquez tried to stay out of trouble and was fighting off of his back foot and expended a lot of energy in the process. This was a clear round for Vasquez who at this time could smell blood and appeared to be on pace to finish the fight in a big way.
Finish big was what Vasquez did as he displayed near super human stamina. Vasquez swarmed all over Marquez from the start. Marquez just couldn’t hold him off and for the first time in fight, he was initiating some clinches much to the chagrin of the raucous crowd.
By the mid-way point of the round Vasquez just couldn’t miss and was landing crushing shots to the head of his weary foe with frightening regularity. It was amazing that Marquez was even on his feet and I remember looking to his corner thinking that at any second a towel might be thrown in.
Around the ring Vasquez pursued his quarry until finally with only seconds left on the clock a blistering combination sent Marquez reeling into the ropes. The ropes kept Marquez from hitting the canvas of which the referee called it a knockdown and began to administer the standing eight count.
Marquez protested but there was no doubt that he would have gone down had it not been for the ropes. As the referee signaled for time in, Vasquez again charged in but was beaten by the clock as the final bell sounded signifying the end the fight.
The crowd was on its feet knowing that they had witnessed a fight for the ages in anticipation of the judges’ decision. As the result was read by ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. there was an audible groan as the words “split decision” were read.
The scores were 114-111 and 113-112 for Vasquez, while the other judge scored the bout 114-111 for Marquez. A decision does not much closer than that, unless the fight is determined to be a draw, and as fights go they don’t get much better than this classic.
Later in the evening after the post fight press conference came to an end, Rafael Marquez was taken to nearby Harbor General Hospital. It was reported by FightNews journalist Edgar Gonzalez that he underwent an MRI as a precautionary measure and was later admitted to the hospital as Marquez was not feeling well after such a brutal and hard fought battle. – Chris Bronte
De Marco Decisions Martinez!
In a dominating performance, Antonio De Marco (18-1-1, 13 KOs) of San Diego dominated Mexico’s Juan Carlos Martinez (9-6-1) over eight rounds to capture a unanimous decision.
De Marco’s long reach and his speed was enough to easily control the tempo of the bout. He worked from the outside and was able to out worked Martinez who at times seemed frustrated as he tried to figure out a counter to De Marco’s offense.
Unfortunately for Martinez, he simply ran out of time as the eight round limit came to a close. All three judges scored it for De Marco 78-74, 79-73 and 78-72. – Edgar Gonzalez
Paez Jr. Stops Barragan!
Exciting super lightweight Jorge Paez Jr. continued his rise to glory with a third round knockout of Tomas Barragan.
Although Barragan kept the fight interesting by landing some eye catching shots early in the fight, he was clearly overmatched. As soon as he was dropped hard in the first round by Paez Jr., the press and crowd in attendance knew that it was only a matter of time before the fight came to an end.
Knowing he could hurt his foe at any moment he chose to, Paez Jr. showed no fear and steam rolled his opponent with a dangerous right hand that seemed destined to deliver a knockout. The punch connected and delivered as promised, as he knocked out Barragan at :55 seconds of the third round.
Paez Jr. improves to (19-1, 11 KOs) while Barragan falls to (8-3-1, 1 KO). – Chris Bronte
Perez Stops Becerra in Fourth!
Yonnhy Perez (14-0, 11 KOs) fighting out of Colombia kept his perfect record intact as he sent his opponent, Alejandro Becerra (19-5, 9 KOs) to the canvas. Referee Ray Corona stopped the bout at 39 seconds of the 4th round after Becerra was unable to reach his feet before the count of ten. – Edgar Gonzalez
Buchanan Decisions Thompson!
It was a lackluster fight with no knockdowns, however the crowd was enthusiastic and very appreciative of both of the fighters efforts as Henry Buchanan (15-1, 11 KOs) scored a unanimous decision victory over Ross Thompson (26-10-2 16KO’s). All three judges scored it 77-75. – Edgar Gonzalez
Franco Destroys Marquez!
In a very brief super bantamweight contest Riverside’s Michael Franco (10-0, 7 KOs) proved his thunderous right and his fast speed was enough to remain undefeated with a devastating knockout of Colorado’s Ernie Marquez (6-3-1) at 2:57 of the first round. – Edgar Gonzalez
Valdez Defeats Andrade!
Alejandro Valdez (19-2 11 KOs) knocked Oscar Andrade (36-31-2, 18 KOs) down in the first round en route to a unanimous decision win. All three judges scored it 79-73 in favor of Valdez. – Edgar Gonzalez
In Other Action:
It was an exciting fight with a lot of toe-to-toe action, Sergio Espinoza (14-4-1, 5 KOs) controlled most of the fight to win a unanimous decision over Wilbert Uicab (19-3-1, 11 KOs). Scores of the bout were 77-75 and 79-73 twice. – Edgar Gonzalez
Nick Casal (16-2-1, 12 KOs) only needed a couple of right hands to force a technical knockout stoppage victory over James Wayka (15-6, 8 KOs) at 1:15 of the second round. Referee Ray Corona stepped in and stopped the fight as it appeared Wayka was unable to defend himself. – Edgar Gonzalez
In a complete mismatch local favorite, Chris Avalos demolished fellow bantamweight Constancio Alvarado in just 2:23. The carnage began when Avalos dropped his foe with a big right hand. Alvarado rose bravely, however Avalos never let up forcing him to the ropes with a combination that rendered him defenseless. This prompted referee Raul Caiz Jr. to leap in to the rescue of Alvarado. Avalos improves to (2-0, 1 KO) while Alvarado tumbles to (2-4). – Chris Bronte