Vazquez vs. Marquez III was Magnifico; Israel Vazquez scores Split Decision win in Fight of the Year candidate
By Phil Santos, (March 2, 2008) Doghouse Boxing  
It was everything we hoped for and more than we should have expected. Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez proved once again to be incredible fighters and true champions with yet another amazing performance. The perceived heavier hitter in Vazquez hit the canvas and was visibly shaken more than once and the slicker boxer in Marquez appeared to be landing the more solid shots.

Much like their two previous meetings just when you thought one fighter was taking control the other man came
back to shift the momentum. The early rounds were defined by Marquez’s jab which he used to control the tempo of the fight and keep Vazquez from planting and effectively shooting his left hook. The back and forth action resulted in Marquez and Vazquez trading the first three rounds on my card with Marquez taking the 1st and the 3rd.

The first, of what would be many, pivotal moment of the bout came in the 4th when Marquez stunned Vazquez with a straight right hand followed by a quick flurry landing the defending champion on the canvas. Vazquez rose to his feet and Marquez pounced in anticipation of finishing Vazquez off and just as if it was scripted Vazquez fired back vicious counters stopping Marquez in his path and doing enough damage to halt the challengers’ advances.

Marquez boxed beautifully for the next two rounds capturing the 5th and 6th on my card. His right hand was beginning to land with frequency and Vazquez face was looking worse for wear as the fight wore on. Vazquez had decent success on the inside but he wasn’t as forceful as expected during the close exchanges.

Rounds 7 thru 9 were property of Israel Vazquez. Marquez did well to fend off the busier Vazquez with well timed counters and often fired off flurries to end the rounds however Vazquez was more aggressive and consistent. Just as the 9th round was nearing its conclusion Vazquez slammed Marquez with a brutal combo punctuated by a hard right hand that wobbled Marquez. With only seconds left Vazquez didn’t have enough time to capitalize and had to settle for a 10-9 round.

The second crucial moment of the fight came in round 10 when after repeated warnings Rafael Marquez was deducted a point for a very questionable, seemingly beltline, low blow. Upon second look at the punch it truly did appear to be square on the belt of Israel Vazquez and in such a close, significant fight probably should not have been called. Following the fight referee Pat Russell offered no apologies and said that he made the call due to repeated warnings.

Vazquez now looked to be gaining control and outworked the slowly fading Marquez. Just as in previous rounds both men emptied their tanks with wicked exchanges before the bell. Vazquez controlled the majority of the action and therefore was awarded the round on my card.

The final critical, and perhaps most decisive, moment came at the end of the 12th round. Israel Vazquez was intent on closing the show with a bang and came out in the final round like a man possessed. Marquez did his best to survive and it looked like he would until Vazquez peppered him with a double right hand followed by a left that sent Marquez stumbling backward into the ropes for a knockdown. Vazquez endless stamina and will to come back helped him retain his title in the early favorite for fight of the year. Vazquez vs. Marquez IV anybody? Now I’m just being greedy.

My scorecard read 113-112 in favor of Israel Vazquez while the judges saw it 114-111 for Vazquez, 114-111 for Marquez and 113-112 for Vazquez. With the victory Israel Vazquez retains his WBC Super Bantamweight Title and improves to 43-4 (31). Rafael Marquez drops to 37-5 (33).

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