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On this day: Israel Vazquez stops Rafael Marquez in Fight of the Year rematch

Fight four between Mexican greats Israel Vazquez (right) and Rafael Marquez. Photo by Tom Casino
04
Aug

This is a criminally underrated rivalry.

On August 4, 2007, Israel Vazquez regained the Ring and WBC junior featherweight titles by stopping Rafael Marquez at the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. The official time was 1:16.

Five months earlier, Marquez dethroned Vazquez in the seventh round of a classic encounter in Carson, California. But despite the quality of that bout, the ending was unsatisfactory with Vazquez pulled out due to a badly broken nose.

The sequel between these brilliant little Mexicans was better than the original.

Motivated by revenge, Vazquez turned in a vintage display. He hurt his countryman with a perfect left hook in Round 3 and survived a torrid response from Marquez, who let it all hang out with some insane combination work. That session was later named Round of the Year.

The action remained elite-level throughout. In the seventh, Vazquez scored a knockdown with an incredibly short left hook on the inside. This time the punch stayed with Marquez. Sensing his opponent’s plight, Vazquez put forth a sustained assault and refused to stop punching until referee Jose Guadalupe Garcia stopped the bout.

This matchup was later named Fight of the Year.

Incredibly, the rubber match, won by Vazquez on points in 2008, was better than the first two bouts combined. This dramatic showdown would also be named Fight of the Year.

“I believe [Marquez] was the best [fighter I ever faced],” Vazquez told The Ring years later. “All the fights I had with Rafa, his shots were like being hit with a mallet in the face, a really hard punch. Out of all the fighters, Rafa had that power — you could feel it.”

Money was the main factor for a fourth fight. Due to injuries sustained in the third meeting, Vazquez had underwent three surgeries to repair retina damage. Marquez cut his friendly rival early, dropped him in Round 3, and forced a stoppage soon after to tie the series at 2-2.

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