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Questions about Vazquez will be answered Saturday

08
Oct

Israel Vazquez’s handlers are as curious as anyone about how he’ll do against Angel Priolo on Saturday night in Los Angeles after a 19-month layoff.

They believe in Vazquez, one of the most-accomplished fighters in the world. However, he has engaged in the kind of ring wars that can shorten the career of a fighter. Plus, he had three operations to repair a detached retina.

Thus, no one knows for sure what might happen when he steps into the ring at Nokia Theater.

“A lot of people have questions, the fans, the media, myself and Israel too,” said Frank Espinoza, Vazquez’s manager. “This Saturday will tell us a lot. I mean, c’mon, he’s been off for more than a year and a half. I don’t expect him to look sharp.



“And this fight will tell us how he’s held up, how the inactivity has affected him, whether he has anything left after three brutal wars with Rafael Marquez.”

Vazquez (43-4, 31 knockouts) says he feels great. And although it makes sense to wonder about wear and tear, the Mexican national who lives in Huntington Park, Calif., has shown no signs of decline in the ring.

The eye also seems to have healed. Vazquez has passed all medical examinations and has experienced no problems in training. Still, an actual fight will be a more-stringent test for the eye.

“I think the eye is more of a question mark than whether these fights have taken anything out of him. People want to know whether it will hold up,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.

Vazquez certainly won’t be overmatched in the 10-round featherweight bout.

Priolo (30-7, 20 knockouts) had considerable success in his native Colombia but has become a designated opponent in the United States. He has lost his last six fights – all in the U.S. – and three were knockouts against big-name fighters: Brian Viloria, Jorge Arce and Abner Mares.

Priolo also has fought primarily at bantamweight while Vazquez has been a junior featherweight, meaning both will be moving up in weight. And Priolo also is coming off a layoff; he hasn’t fought in 17 months.

So clearly Priolo isn’t much of a threat.

“I thought it was important to put him in with the right guy under these circumstances,” Espinoza said. “We just want to see where Israel is at.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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