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DISINTEGRATION: Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez Preview

No one knows exactly what to expect when Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez meet tomorrow night for the fourth time in a little over three years. Violence, naturally; blood, no doubt; pain, the likes of which few will ever experience, of course. But as for the strategic or competitive aspects of a fight between two boxers who may have left pieces of themselves scattered in stained rings across the West Coast during their ferocious trilogy, no one can say.

It is hard to imagine that they are looking forward to facing off one more time. For Vazquez and Marquez, stepping into the ring with each other is like checking into a bed and breakfast run by Procrustes.

Nothing in boxing over the last few years has matched the mayhem–tempered at times by exquisite skill–Vazquez and Marquez have subjected each other to. In fact, some have expressed concern about the health of the participants tomorrow night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Vazquez, he has already suffered noticeably from his dangerous meetings with Marquez. In the last three years, Vazquez has undergone an operation for a shattered nose and multiple surgeries for a detached retina. Another unsettling aspect concerns how often Vazquez, 44-4 (32), appears in public wearing sunglasses.

Now 35, Marquez is looking to even the series with Vazquez at two apiece, but there is no telling how much he has left either. After all, it is not only Vazquez who has been diminished from the punishment absorbed over the last few years. Indeed, Marquez, 38-5 (34), has been dropped heavily in all three fights against Vazquez and might have been knocked out in the last bout if not for the mercy of the final bell.

Marquez, like his nemesis Vazquez, has been a superb fighting machine for fifteen years. His only real weakness is a jaw as reliable as a game of bingo with balls missing. Although he has been stopped four times in his career, Marquez has protected his chin with fine technique and the ultimate deterrent: crippling power in both hands. Still, Vazquez has managed to get the edge over him in the last two fights, a 7th round TKO and a split decision.

This time Marquez seems to have found the equalizer for Vazquez: disintegration. Long before he swapped vicious shots with Marquez, “Magnifico” took grinding punishment in fights with hard cases like Hector Velázquez, Jhonny Gonzalez, and Oscar Larios. But the ultimate sign of repeated GBH having taken its toll on Vazquez was his last fight, a 9th round TKO of Angel Antonio Priolo nearly eight months ago. Vazquez was returning from a layoff of over a year and a half.

Within a round it became obvious that Vazquez was either shot or so rusty as to be its temporary equivalent. Not only did Vazquez struggle mightily with Angel Antonio Priolo, a pushover who decided to push back for once, but he also suffered a nasty crescent-shaped cut over his left eye that might have caused the bout to be stopped at any moment. Against Priolo, a former flyweight, Vazquez ate right hands all night and never seemed to get his offensive rhythm. So dreadful did Vazquez, 32, look against Priolo–loser of six in a row and five by knockout coming into the bout–that Marquez is the favorite despite the fact that he has lost consecutive fights to Vazquez.

For his part, Marquez has been no busier than Vazquez since 2008. In his only fight since his third bout with Vazquez, he made such short work of Jose Francesco Mendoza that indications of decline, if any exist, could not manifest themselves.

Marquez, Mexico City, Mexico, may indeed be “more whole” than Vazquez at this point, but has he squandered that edge by not fighting in the last year? In addition to all the other X-factors aswirl Vazquez-Marquez IV, this fight will take place at featherweight, four pounds north of their previous encounters. Will the added weight make any difference, and, if so, will it affect Marquez or Vazquez?

Vazquez, Huntington Park, California, via Mexico City, has shown in the past that he can offset his disadvantage in skill by forcing a hectic pace and obliging Marquez to trade shots, but the past seems farther away than ever for Vazquez. But if Marquez has lost any of his finesse, does that mean Vazquez will be closer to the present in the ring?

The two likeliest outcomes are Marquez by cuts or Vazquez by TKO. One seems as plausible as the other. Less clear is how time will blacken either man.

Topics: Featherweights, GBH, Israel Vazquez, Rafael Marquez

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  • johnpaulfutbol

    Carlos,

    That was a really good preview of Mares/Perez, I’m looking forward to that fight…and anticipate it being a war.

    Also, good stuff here re: Vazquez/Marquez. There’s a great chance these guys are shot, however I think they’ll manage to elevate eachother to make a good fight….but at what cost? I’m a huge Vazquez fan, and really like Marquez as well. But, I’m not sure this is a good thing. After their last fight, I was completely against them fighting again. Then I went to Vazquez’ fight against Priolo here in LA, and thought for sure he was done and should retire. He did look awful and his eye is worrisome. Fast forward to a couple months ago, and all of a sudden I’m chomping at the bit to buy tickets. I’m really looking forward to the fights tomorrow night, and feel that Mares/Perez could steal the show……but I feel sort of creepy buying tickets to this event on some level. Vazquez and Marquez have given the sport and it’s fans quite a bit. I’m not sure I should be supporting them knitting their own doom! Once again, I find myself thinking about some of the stuff McIlvanney had to say regarding being a conflicted boxing fan.

    Anyway, enough psychobabble….good stuff as always Los. And very nice on the Procrustes reference! I’m a dimestore classicist…love Greek and Roman history/mythology etc.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi JPF,

      I think it’s great that you are going to the fights tomorrow night…these guys deserve support for all the courage and skill they’ve shown over the years…As you probably know better from having seen him live, Vazquez looked truly miserable against a GBP “Special” (old guy with decent numbers on paper, 2 or 3 divisions above his best weight), but was he shot or was it the 19-month layoff? Or both? And is Marquez any better for coming back off of a year’s inactivity? We’ll find out tomorrow.

      But, yeah, Vazquez’ eye is a concern in and out of the ring. I was looking for pictures for this post, and, man, I saw so many of Vazquez with sunglasses on–even indoors–I was like, whoah. And Marquez might be a concern, too. After all, he’s been knocked down three times in his last four fights….

      Anyway, I’m sure the show will be a good one, especially with Perez-Mares on there as well. That’s a pick ‘em fight, and we don’t get many of those these days (especially on HBO). Make sure you don’t spill beer on your lap!

      That “Procrustes” reference will cost me lots of readers, trust me. They’ll move right on to Sadsackboxing.com…..

      I saw you tweet last night on Anthony Beevor…I’m trying to finish his book on The Spanish Civil War…we both read McIlvanney and Beevor!

      I think you’ll

      • johnpaulfutbol

        Hey Los,

        I read that book on the Spanish Civil War last year….pretty good, but I had a hard time following it at times…..I guess because I was reading a few things at once. But, it was hard for me to keep up with all the different factions, such as the P.O.U.M. etc! I did enjoy his book on Stalingrad though! I’m a sucker for the Eastern Front……lucky to be born where I was and when I was, I’ll tell you that.

        I’ll check in after the fights! Hope you have a great weekend.

        • Carlos Acevedo

          Hi JPF,

          what did you do to the last sentence of my reply to your first comment?

          I am feeling exactly the same way about the Spanish Civil War book…I always thought it was just the Republic vs. The Fascists….but everybody was up in there, including the WNBA.

          Anyway, have fun at the fights…