Friday, October 07, 2022  |


10: Notable flyweight title fights


April 2, 2011 – Hernan Marquez KO 11 Luis Concepcion, Arena Roberto Duran, Panama City, Panama

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For casual sports fans, the term “flyweight knockout artist” has a strange ring to it but to those in the know it applies quite nicely. When that power is accompanied by ravenous ferocity, as was the case when “Tyson” Marquez (22 KOs in 29 wins) and “Inca” Concepcion (17 KOs in 22 wins) met, the results are beyond breathtaking.

For several years the WBA made available three different title belts – the “super” belt, the “regular” belt and the “interim” belt – in order to keep the “title” active as well as triple the incoming sanctioning fees. While ridiculously illogical to fans and media, this arrangement made perfect financial sense to the WBA given that elite boxers no longer fight more than two times a year. That said, the lineage of the belt had long been broken and in the weeks leading up to the fight it was frayed further when Concepcion was elevated from “interim” to “regular” champion because previous occupant Daiki Kameda opted to move up to 118. Confusion aside, Concepcion and Marquez ended up producing a fight worthy of an undisputed championship match.

The feeling-out period ended just seconds after the opening bell sounded as Conception blasted a right hand through Marquez’s southpaw guard. Almost every time Concepcion fired a power punch – which was often – his supporters unleashed a thunderous yell, as if their voices could magnify the power of their hero’s blows. While Concepcion fought with white-hot passion, Marquez was composed and calculating.

The opening plot twist occurred just 85 seconds into the fight as a crunching right put Marquez on his behind for an eight count. As he pursued the kill Concepcion went right-hand crazy, which allowed Marquez to plot out his proper punching angles. A heavy Marquez left over a missed Concepcion right briefly stunned the titleholder and another one in the round’s closing seconds drove Concepcion to the canvas. A furious Concepcion paced back and forth as referee Luis Pabon administered the mandatory eight count, which took up the round’s remaining moments.

Although the pair fought at arm’s length in the second, the distance only made their blows harder and snappier. Concepcion stalked behind light jabs and full-powered rights while Marquez circled and picked his battles wisely. The already intense action picked up even more in the final 40 seconds as they traded devastating power shots at close range, after which Concepcion produced an incredible surge that impaled Marquez on the ropes and had him on the verge of being decked a second time.

Instead, it was Marquez who scored the second knockdown, for in the opening moments of round three his sensational right hook sent Concepcion spinning to the canvas. Yet, once the action resumed, it was Concepcion who raged after Marquez with a series of power shots, which, in turn, gave Marquez plenty of counterpunching opportunities. A short right hook by Marquez nearly scored another knockdown and after tasting a follow-up left cross, Concepcion beckoned for more. And more came. A double left-cross very nearly dropped Concepcion as well as a right-left to the face. The challenger, whose snarling visage had the look of a mini-Rocky Graziano, continued to blast in hooks, crosses and uppercuts at will but Concepcion somehow stood up through it all without hitting the floor again.

Improbably, Concepcion recovered nicely from his third round beating to press the action in round four. The Panamanian walked through Marquez’s heaviest shots in pursuit of landing his own, even switching to southpaw at one point. All semblance of boxing science had been thrown out of the equation; this was high-octane brawling at its most intense.

By the fifth both sported swollen eyes – the left for Concepcion and the right for Marquez – and while the action slowed a bit it was still, when compared to most fights, quite frenetic. The sixth round continued the pattern of Concepcion chasing and Marquez countering, though a corking right hook shook the title-holder noticeably in the final 20 seconds and let to a series of unanswered blows that lasted until the bell.

As was the case in round six, the seventh’s best action occurred in the final minute as they exchanged heavy blows, but while Concepcion’s carried plenty of power they lacked Marquez’s precision and purposefulness. It is rare to see a shorter fighter prosper while retreating but Marquez was doing just that against the advancing Concepcion. Whenever the title-holder launched a blow Marquez found a way to slip it, slip in the counter and slip out the door.

The eighth and ninth rounds saw Marquez continue to pick apart his pursuer, though Concepcion broke through with a stiff right in the final minute of round nine. Concepcion enjoyed a bright start in the 10th as he got on his toes and moved in behind quicker right leads that boasted far more accuracy than in the previous five rounds. Marquez, however, stopped Concepcion’s mini-rally with a trio of left crosses that forced the titlist to regroup. In the final minute a weary but still willing Concepcion landed a right uppercut to the chin but after landing a follow-up hook to the body Marquez lashed out with a sizzling counter right that floored Concepcion for the third time in the fight. Concepcion tried to have the knockdown nullified by leaping to his feet and issuing shrugging complaints but Pabon correctly continued his count.

Once the action resumed, the angered Concepcion channeled his rage into three left-rights that had Marquez reeling. For the first time in several rounds the crowd leapt to its feet and urged their charge to keep coming. Concepcion, as always, kept coming and this time he landed several more crosses and hooks that capped an incredible turnaround.

Just when it appeared that the fight was heading toward an extraordinary crescendo, it ended. Shortly after the 11th round bell sounded Pabon stopped the action and summoned the ringside physician to look at Concepcion’s left eye, which was now a slit. As a second physician held a flashlight to illuminate the orb, the first doctor peered in, then slowly shook his head. Just like that, the fight was over and Marquez was declared the new WBA champion. Although the local fans were disappointed – several ringsiders held chairs over their heads in case a riot broke out – the reasoning was sound: If Concepcion had trouble defending himself with two good eyes, how could he do so with one?

Still, it was a terrific action fight and one scribe declared it a front-runner for 2011’s Fight of the Year. Ultimately, THE RING bestowed that honor to Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto.

With eight months of 2014 already in the books more than a few fights have emerged as contenders for Fight of the Year – Francisco Rodriguez-Katsunari Takayama, Lucas Matthysse-John Molina, Daniel Rosas-Rodrigo Guerrero, Robert Guerrero-Yoshihiro Kamegai and, my personal choice, Tommy Coyle-Daniel Brizuela, being just five examples. Will any of the upcoming flyweight title fights crack into the discussion? Given the division’s reputation for fantastic action, one shouldn’t be surprised if they do.



Lee Groves is a boxing writer and historian based in Friendly, W.Va. He is a full member of the BWAA, from which he has won 12 writing awards, including nine in the last four years and two first-place awards since 2011. He has been an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame since 2001 and is also a writer, researcher and punch-counter for CompuBox, Inc. He is the author of “Tales From the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics. To order, please visit or e-mail the author at [email protected] to arrange for autographed copies.



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