Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Ring Ratings Update: Marquez debuts at featherweight


Rafael Marquez's decisive TKO of Israel Vazquez earned him a featherweight ranking by THE RING, but can the 35-year-old veteran compete with the 126-pound division's young contenders?. Photo / Naoki Fukuda.

Rafael Marquez’s three-round technical stoppage of arch rival Israel Vazquez on Saturday did more than even the score in their four-bout series at two wins apiece, it put the 35-year-old veteran back on the board as a bona fide contender.

Marquez (39-5, 35 knockouts), whose fourth bout with Vazquez took place in the featherweight division, debuted in THE RING’s 126-pound ratings at No. 10.

Their first three bouts, which comprised one of the best trilogies in boxing history, took place in the junior featherweight division with THE RING’s 122-pound title at stake.

Marquez, who spent most of his career at bantamweight, where he won a title and defeated top American fighters Mark Johnson and Tim Austin, always had the height and build of a featherweight.

However, now that Marquez is finally a player in the 126-pound weight class, many fans wonder if the Mexico City native has enough left in his tank to compete with the division’s top fighters.

Like his older brother, Juan Manuel, Marquez has put together a hall-of-fame-worthy career, but it has not come without a price.

It’s doubtful that Marquez’s legs and reflexes are what they were prior to his brutal series with Vazquez, but it’s difficult to determine exactly where he is based on his fourth fight because his opponent was so badly faded.

Marquez’s promoter, Gary Shaw, suggested that Vic Darchinyan, who he also promotes, is a possible next opponent for the Mexican veteran but the dynamic 115-pound titleholder is clearly a more suitable foe for bantamweights Yonnhy Perez and Abner Mares, who fought to a spirited draw on the Vazquez-Marquez IV undercard.

Marquez has a few marketable — and formidable — potential opponents among his fellow RING-rated featherweights.

Indonesia’s Chris John (No. 1), Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez (No. 2), who was ringside for Marquez-Vazquez IV, and Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa (No. 7) have all made names for themselves in the U.S. with impressive recent appearances on HBO.

Fights with either featherweight standout would not only create style matchups and story lines that would capture the attention of the boxing world, the bouts would also let fans know exactly how much fight Marquez has left.



Ruslan Chagaev (No. 6 last week) returned to action with a 12-round decision over Kali Meehan and trades places with Eddie Chambers (No. 5 last week).

FEATHERWEIGHTS: Marquez debuts at No. 10 following his TKO of Vazquez. Marquez’s inclusion pushes out Mario Santiago (No. 9 last week) and elevates Daniel Ponce De Leon from No. 10 to No. 9.

“The reason Mario Santiago was dropped and Daniel Ponce De Leon retained was because Santiago’s most-recent fight was a decision loss to Jorge Solis at junior lightweight, while Ponce De Leon’s four most recent bouts (all wins) have been at featherweight,” said Nigel Collins, Editor-in-Chief of THE RING magazine. “Rafael Marquez’s TKO of Israel Vazquez was only his second start at 126 pounds, therefore it was impossible to rank him higher than No. 10 despite his excellent record at 118 and 122 pounds.”


Mares jumps from No. 8 to No. 5 following his 12-round draw with Perez, who maintained his No. 4 ranking. Mares’ advancement also forces down Joseph Agbeko (No. 5 last week), Nehomar Cermeno (No. 6 last week), and Silence Mabuza (No. 7 last week) down one position each.