Marquez-Vazquez: Thank God for the little guys

By Benn Schulberg


Marquez-Vazquez: Thank God for the little guys

If all fistic opponents could thrill their audiences the way Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez did this past Saturday night in Los Angeles, the sport of boxing would never have to answer to its critics who blame the scores of uninteresting and mismatched fights on its decline.  Living up to its billing as a barn-burning battle between two of the best little guys in the world, Marquez moved up in weight to take the WBC super bantamweight title away from Vazquez via a 7th round TKO.  Ironically, Vazquez controlled the last round of the fight, landing his biggest left hook since his one-punch knockdown of Marquez in the 3rd.  
The crowd hollered in adoration following a fierce exchange at the end of the 7th, but was then rudely interrupted of their entertainment when Vazquez failed to get off his stool when the bell rang for round eight.  Without warning, the fight was over and the fans were left to piece together what would’ve been the telling second-half of a classic battle. 

As fast and exhilarating as the action was for seven rounds, its premature end seemed to occur with even more haste.  Vazquez gazed up to trainer Freddie Roach and said he couldn’t go on any longer. 

“I can’t do it anymore.  I can’t breathe,” pleaded the Mexican warrior, his eyes full of disappointment, his face bruised as blood streamed from his smashed nose.  The injury seemed to happen in the second round thanks to Marquez’s pistol of a jab, unbeknownst to all those watching, but Vazquez fought on until he could barely breathe, let alone fight.  It turns out there were signs of a stoppage beforehand and despite standing toe-to-toe with Marquez and matching his frenetic pace, the hard-nosed Vazquez (no pun intended) hinted to his corner that the end may be near.  “He complained that he couldn’t breathe two round before so when he told me again I had to stop it,” said Freddie Roach.

Despite the boos from the disappointed fans craving more blood and guts action, Vazquez was valiant in defeat and deserves credit for making what turned out to be the right decision in the midst of such a heated and important battle.  A decision made even harder by Vazquez’s competitive spirit, not to mention his powerful left hook that downed Marquez four rounds earlier, but ultimately he understood that he couldn’t win with a wounded beak and bowed out in order to fight another day.

“The fight was stopped at the right time.  The only problem was my breathing but I wasn’t hurt,” Vazquez explained.  His great courage and perseverance that he showed so memorably in his fights with Jhonny Gonzalez and Oscar Larios couldn’t quite carry him to victory on this night, but nevertheless, we applaud him and his sensational opponent for an unforgettable performance that boxing needs more of. 

The talk of a rematch was in the air before Vazquez’s nose even seemed to stop bleeding.  Why shouldn’t these two go at it again?  Hell, I’d pay to these two high-octane, superb super bantamweights battle once more for all the glory.  This is as good as it gets and if you can’t get excited for these little warriors then you’re simply missing out on the best boxing has to offer.  Think Barrera-Morales shrunk down a size or two and maybe then you’ll realize the class and intensity of this matchup.   

This unfinished war will happily get its finality as Marquez agreed after the fight that Vazquez deserved an immediate rematch considering the injury and the fact that he was the defending champion.  Their aggressive, head-on styles and crafty skills made for a dream match and now a riveting rematch as we can expect nothing less than another epic battle, another mesmerizing session of poetry in motion to decide who will reign as the super bantamweight king.