Friday, March 24, 2023  |


Weekend Review: Marquez-Vazquez fall out


Israel Vazquez's cuts probably saved him from a beating against Rafael Marquez on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Photo / ML Preissel


Rafael Marquez: No one can be certain what Marquez has left at 35 because Israel Vazquez appears to have so little at 32. But the former RING junior featherweight champ’s third-round knockout Saturday night in Los Angeles and his prominent name assure him of more big fights in the near future. He probably can’t handle the young guns in the featherweight division — gifted, big-punching fighters like Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa — but he probably has enough left to beat almost any other fighter in and around his weight class. In other words, he can still accomplish a great deal with the right matchmaking. Those with any sense of compassion only hope that he doesn’t have Marquez-Vazquez V in his future.


Israel Vazquez: The popular little warrior tried to give us one more thrill against his arch rival and failed. He should consider himself lucky to have been cut so badly that he couldn’t go past the third round. The blood, which blinded him, probably prevented him from absorbing an ugly beating. Vazquez’s difficulty with journeyman Angel Priolo in his last fight seemed to confirm that he has almost nothing left to give, one reason so many were so concerned before Saturday’s fight. And it seems a cool breeze is enough to cut the tender skin surrounding his eyes. The signs are there: Enough is enough. Vazquez gave the fans what they wanted time and again and built a Hall of Fame resume in the process. He should be proud and walk away while he still can.


Marquez-Vazquez V: The majority of those who have followed their series would say in retrospect that Marquez-Vazquez IV shouldn’t have happened. We don’t know for sure what might’ve happened had Vazquez not been cut but Marquez, the much fresher of the two, apparently was much too much to handle this time. And Vazquez, should he decide to continue, is going to get cut every time he fights. What’s the point? The same thing almost certainly would happen in a fifth fight. And, frankly, the fight fans aren’t that stupid. Many had their doubts going into IV. They wouldn’t buy into V. And isn’t it fitting that the series ended 2-2?


Abner Mares: The 2004 Mexican Olympian, who had to overcome so much to earn his first opportunity to fight for a major title, believed he did enough in the ring to beat belt holder Yonnhy Perez only to learn the fight was scored a majority draw. He was clearly depressed a few hours later. Not to worry, Abner. This one slipped away but there will be more. Mares proved at 24 and with limited professional experience that he belongs in the ring with a monster like Perez, who is seven years his senior and ridiculously rugged. He outboxed Perez when he could and, remarkably, outslugged him when he had to. He was the better fighter regardless of what the judges had to say. He has a very big future.


Mares-Perez: My gut reaction immediately after the decision was announced was to dismiss judges Eugenia Williams and Gwen Adair — both of whom scored it 114-114 — as incompetent. Some observers I respect saw it the way they did, though, so I’ll keep my emotions in check. I’ll say this, though: I believe Perez was given too much credit for being the aggressor for much of the fight. Mares landed more and cleaner punches even when he was moving. He also fought at least as aggressively as Perez did down the stretch, when champions must dig deep to demonstrate their greatness. Mares won the last four rounds on one card and three of four on the other two. I won’t say that Mares was robbed but that’s how it feels in my gut. Rematch?


Yonnhy Perez: The Colombian is so tall and rugged that it seemed at times as if Mares were fighting an opponent two or three weight classes above his own. Anyone hoping to be competitive against him is going to have to work extremely hard, as Joseph Agbeko learned in October and Mares learned on Saturday. He isn’t a great boxer but solid skills are enough when you overwhelm opponents with your strength and tenacity. One thing was interesting, though: It was Perez, not the smaller Mares who seemed to fade somewhat down the stretch. That might be a sign of vulnerability against someone as skillful and determined as Mares.


Kim vs. Diaz: The fight between slugger Ji-Hoon Kim and Ameth Diaz was shaping up to be a thriller when it ended in less than full round Friday in Laredo, Texas, Kim scoring a KO at 2:59. Kim is one of the wildest, most-awkward fighters to come along in years. He’s fun to watch. His utter lack of defensive skills won’t serve him well against a top-flight opponent, though. Diaz, only a journeyman, was able to land punches with ease before he fell face first onto the canvas. Doug Fischer, Co-Editor of, suggested that Kim would make an ideal opponent for the likes of Michael Katsides, Urbano Antillon or Brandon Rios. Bring ’em on. All three of those matchups would be can’t-miss wars.


Ruslan Provodnikov: The unbeaten Russian has a similar style to that of Kim, wild, reckless and fun. He absorbed a lot of punishment from an old fighter — Emanuel Augustus — who took the fight on a few days notice but he dished out much more in the end Friday night. Provodnikov scored a ninth-round TKO. His recklessness will come back to haunt him, particularly because he doesn’t seem to punch particularly hard. A good fighter near his prime with time to prepare could give Provodnikov all kinds of problems. We love true fighters, though. And that’s what the Russian is.


Cries of racism: Some Manny Pacquiao supporters cried racism when it was announced that Floyd Mayweather Jr. had passed the Filipino icon in the most-recent Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound poll. Rubbish. Boxing writers have fallen in love with Pacquiao, a wonderful person and the most-exciting fighter in the world. It’s Mayweather many of them can’t stand. The reality is that 20 of 33 writers who voted in the poll decided Mayweather is the best fighter in the world based on facts, not any prejudice. I personally voted to keep Pacquiao at No. 1 but there are legitimate arguments for Mayweather, whether Pacquiao supporters want to recognize that or not. I suggest the race baiters calm down and give rationality a try.


Determining who’s No. 1: It all depends on how one approaches the pound-for-pound argument. Is the No. 1 fighter simply the best in the world or is that a position that must be earned over time? I subscribe to the latter approach, which is why I have Pacquiao at No. 1. He ascended to the top while Mayweather was on his hiatus and certainly has done nothing to lose it. However, now that Mayweather is back and dominating his opponents again, it’s understandable that a reasonable expert would say his sublime skills are superior to those of Pacquiao. I agree with them, although I’m not certain Mayweather would beat Pacquiao. Once again, let’s hope that they end this debate in the ring.


Mayweather-Pacquiao breakthrough: Some people might think that a door has opened because the last blood test for the Mayweather-Mosley fight was conducted 18 days before their May 1 fight, as reported by Yahoo! Sports. Pacquiao has said he would give blood 14 days before meeting Mayweather in the ring. This overly optimistic notion misses the point: The Olympic-style drug testing used for Mayweather-Mosley is random, meaning the fighters can be asked to give blood at any time leading up to the fight. That’s the best way to catch cheaters. So far Pacquiao hasn’t agreed to that and Mayweather has not given any indication that he will compromise.


Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA, which conducted drug testing for the Mayweather-Mosley fight: “If you know you aren’t going to be tested within the last 14 days, you can cheat and get away with it. It is our right to test at any time, 30 days before the fight, 20 days before, the week of, the morning of – that provides the deterrent. If you block out a period of time and say we can’t test during that period, then an athlete could cheat and get away with it.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]