Another Classic Battle

By Tom Donelson
Updated: March 2, 2008

GlovesIOWA CITY, Ia. — The Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez trilogy can now be entered in boxing history as one of those trilogies to be forever remembered. Think Barrera-Morales in recent times or Graziano-Zale of the late 40′s, and you can accurately see that these fighters belong among the greats.

Great rivalries are often born at the highest levels and with much at stake. For Graziano and Zale, the Middleweight championship was the holy grail but after their trilogy, they became immortalized.

For many in my generation, it was Ali-Frazier, whose three fights transcended the sport. Their first fight could easily be declared the greatest boxing match ever, and one of sports’ biggest events of the 20th century.

Over the past decade, we have witnessed many great rivalries that will soon have their own special place in history. Barrera and Morales produced their own magic and one can’t forget Arturo Gatti-Mickey Ward.

The third battle between Marquez and Vazquezt may have been their best. Their first two ended with stoppages and never made it to the distance. Marquez won the first when Vazquez couldn’t answer the bell.

In their second bout, Vazquez stopped Marquez to recapture his super bantamweight title. This bout had classic written all over it and it didn’t disappoint.

In the opening rounds, Marquez’s jab dominated the action as he took the early rounds. In the fourth round, Marquez nailed Vazquez with a right and sent him down for a 10-8 round. Starting in the fifth, Vasquez slowly changed the momentum of the fight.

In the fifth round, he used a body attack in attempt to slow Marquez down. From this point, Vazquez moved closer to his target; which allowed his right hand to become a factor.

A vicious left hooker, Vazquez shot his right over Marquez’s left jab.Going into the sixth round, Vazquez’s eyes were cut and starting to swell but his ability move closer on the inside gave him the opportunity to the fight around.

From this point, Vazquez inside game took hold but not without some exciting moments. Many of the late rounds saw Vazquez’s inside game take hold early in therounds but Marquez often rallied late in rounds.

In the eighth round, Marquez’s right buckled Vazquez but his efforts in the previous rounds made Marquez tentative. Two crucial lost points occurred late in the fight.

In the 10th round, Vazquez and Marquez fought a close tenacious round as each fighter gave as they received. But throughout the fight, Marquez had nailed Vazquez with low blows.

After repeated warnings, Marquez went south one time too many which led to a one point deduction. The second crucial moment came in the 12th round as Vazquez went after a knockout.

With the fight hanging in the balance, the 12th became the decisive round in this trilogy. Vazquez could not be certain that he could win a decision after losing many of the early rounds. One of those rounds was a 10-8, but Vazquez’s goal was not to let this fight in the judges’ hands.

With 10 seconds left, a Vazquez right sent Marquez reeling. He grabbed the rope to stay standing but the referee gave him a 10 count. The ropes kept Marquez in the ring and the referee declared it a knockdown.

This gave Vazquez a 10-8 round. Those two points lost by Marquez proved decisive in the judging. One judge gave Vazquez the fight by a 114-111 margin whereas another judge gave Marquez a 114-111 margin. The final card saw Vazquez a victor by a razor thin 113-112 margin.

What if Vazquez not get his knockdown in the final round or that Marquez doesn’t deliver that low blow in the 10th? Marquez would have won. Those two points determine the fight.

One was a mistake by Marquez and the other was Vazquez delivering under pressure. Vazquez won the rubber match but there may be a fourth match.

Whether these men have in them for yet another classic is the question.