Marquez-Vasquez IV: A Sure "Fight of the Year" Candidate

April 20, 2010

Don’t look now, but the fight of the year may not involve the names Pacquiao, Mosley, or Mayweather.

The reason? Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez will be meeting in the ring for the fourth time on May 22, 2010, in Los Angeles.

The bout is guaranteed to be one of the memorable fights of this era for the simple fact that Marquez and Vasquez have faced each other so many times.

In today's sweet science, the greatest boxers rarely seem to go head-to-head, and when they do, unfinished business often is the result.

For example, Oscar De La Hoya had two close fights with Floyd Mayweather and Felix Trinidad, but never faced them in a rematch. This month faded legends Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. finally faced each other once again - unfortunately it was nearly 17 years after their first fight.

That is precisely why Marquez versus Vasquez IV is such an unusual event: both men are talented and marketable fighters who instead of avoiding each other, will now have fought four times.

Each of their previous fights have been more trainwrecks than mere slugfests, as they gave it their all from the first bell. One could reasonably describe their series, without hyperbole, as the greatest rivalry of the current boxing era.

While some have compared these two to the Ali-Frazier or Barrera-Morales rivalries of yore, the truth is that both men genuinely like each other. In fact, based on crowd reactions alone, most fight fans are not split into opposite hate-filled camps, but rather seem to like both men.

Promoter Gary Shaw is another admirer, who in the aftermath of the third fight proposed that in a perfect world he would do nothing but take these two guys on a global fight tour.

Why not? Sugar Ray Robinson fought Jake LaMotta six-times, after all.

At only three fights, the Vasquez-Marquez series has to be mentioned as one of the all-time greatest rivalries in boxing. Perhaps even above such recent classics as the Gatti-Ward trilogy.

In the first bout, Rafael Marquez earned the victory primarily by breaking Vasquez’s nose. It appeared from ringside that at one moment between rounds Vasquez tried to blow his nose, which only made things worse. The injury made breathing visibly difficult for Vasquez, and he was forced to quit on his stool in the seventh round.

The second fight was moved to Texas, and in what proved to be the fight of the year, Vasquez turned the tables and conquered Marquez via a sixth round knockout.

The third fight resulted in a controversial split decision victory for Vasquez, and was again awarded fight of the year by many media outlets. However, Vasquez's win came at a price, as he was knocked down in the fourth round, and suffered eye damage, possibly due to the accumulated punishment from the prior two bouts.

Now the thirty-two year old Vasquez is coming off a long layoff in which he was recovering from a detached retina.

Although both men prevailed in their interim tune-up fights, the psychological edge has to be with the thirty-five year old Marquez. Marquez remains relatively healthy, and unlike Vasquez, he does not have to worry about any long term injury to his eye. Nevertheless, both men have a “puncher’s chance” to end the fight at any moment, so it is truly anyone's fight.

Expect this one to be good while it lasts. Without question, the fans will get their money’s worth. The only remaining issue is whether this fourth fight will be the last between these two Mexican warriors.

By Joe Hammond
Contributing Writer for

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