|Vazquez Takes The Best of Three in a Classic War Under the Stars
By Gabriel Montoya at Ringside (March 2, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
Everywhere I looked, excited fans debated and awaited tonight’s showdown with baited breath. Chris ‘The Nightmare’ Arreola sauntered around the crowd like Mexican heavyweight royalty. A cool, smooth demeanor and a friendly smile for the fans and writers scattered nearby as Chris mingled among his people. Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA was a celebration of all things great about good old-fashioned Mexican boxing. A roar from the crowd as I set up at ringside signaled the entrance of the legendary Mexican warrior Julio Caesar Chavez. A dignified sight in a tuxedo, Mr. Chavez was doing guest commentary at ringside.
There was on odd wait for the main event as the card had been structured in such a way that we ended up with a twenty minute wait between a third round knockout by Jorge Paez Jr. and the main event.
Vince Phillips was introduced as well as The Nightmare and Tracy Ullman (?). Shaun Merriman from the Chargers got soundly booed. Chad Dawson got a good one from the crowd. And then the weirdest thing happened. Five guys started chanting “Tarver! Tarver!! Tarver!!!” Go figure. Guy’s got five fans.
Both men entered to thunderous applause. A survey of the crowd in the water/beer line told me that it was equal parts Vasquez and Marquez fans.
Finally the classy Jimmy Lennon Jr. came center ring, grabbed the mic, and did his signature “It’s Showtime!” Referee Pat Russell gave his instructions and it was on.
A brilliant first round featured both men boxing behind jabs with Marquez getting the better of it. Midway through, Vasquez got to his body as they traded inside. Shortly after Marquez took a flush left hook inside and was badly hurt. But he bounded back and took over the rest of the round. He was in control of the round except for that few seconds of hurt.
Vasquez was on the offensive to start the second. He landed a solid right that got Marquez attention. Vasquez worked hard and busy whenever they got inside. An explosive left hook on Marquez chin ended a lull in action, but the brave Rafa battled back landing a combo and a flurry at the bell.
A slower, more Marquez friendly pace in the third as he worked behind the jab and dug to the body. Vasquez used his double jab to get inside but Marquez worked behind the jab to stay at distance. A one-two for Marquez after the bell and a low blow the ref didn’t call were the highlights.
“Wow” is all I can say about the fourth. Marquez in a groove. Working the jab. Breaking Vasquez’ rhythm. A one-two hurt Vasquez and a flurry ended by a right put him down. Vasquez got up, dropped two rights on Marquez and a left that hurt him. They battle to the bell with Marquez coming back in what is this year's round of the year front runner.
Jabs and combos from Marquez in the fifth, with Vasquez pursuing and getting off bombs. A leaping hook from Vasquez. A one-two from Vasquez off a Marquez miss. A big right from Vasquez at the bell but Marquez takes it well.
Vasquez continued to press the issue in the sixth, really closing in and letting loose to the body. Marquez seemed to have lost steam while Vasquez was getting his zone on. A booming right lands for Vasquez who is now getting the target more often. Two shots, three shots land in succession. A huge low blow from Marquez earns him a warning at the bell.
A seesaw seventh with Vasquez pursuing and getting off two good rights. Marquez seemed to bide his time, picking his spots until two big rights down the stretch led to a rear uppercut from hell. A flurry to end the round and this was all even.
Round nine was another hard one to score as they traded even. Marquez got off the jab more consistently but Vasquez could care less as he ripped into his body with lefts and rights up and downstairs.
It was Vasquez’ round until the about the ten second mark in the ninth when Marquez landed the best shots of the round with a left-right left-right upstairs combo. Beautiful stuff. Vasquez pushed the pace however, landing up and downstairs in flurries. Is there a round either of these guys don’t go for the kill?
Vasquez was taking a pummeling to the face to this point but was still pursuing. A low blow from Marquez signaled referee Russell to take a point in the tenth. Vasquez came out of his short break to bull-rush Marquez. Rafa backed up and boxed, catching Vasquez at the bell with three brutal shots.
A brutal flurry inside as both men battle in a phone booth in the eleventh round as the fight is on the table at every turn. Vasquez lands two good rights. They exchange at the bell with Vasquez getting the better of it.
Round twelve was a classic. Vasquez came on like a storm throwing everything and the kitchen sink. Rights upstairs, downstairs with uppers to the body. Marquez was on his heels after a right-left caught him and hurt him. Marquez is barely there as he is getting teed off on with right after right. He keeps moving away. Only sheer will and at times the ropes are holding up Marquez. Vasquez goes in for the kill and Marquez falls into the ropes. Ref Russell gives the standing eight and Marquez makes it to the final bell. The crowd went crazy as we all agreed it was once in a lifetime fight.
Judges had it 114-111 a piece and 113-112 for Vasquez, who retains his 122lb title and bragging rights in one of the greatest trilogies the sport will ever know. I had it by one point for Vasquez. Breathtaking action, a scintillating crowd. What a great way to spend of cold L.A. Saturday night.
**Look for an exclusive one on one with Zab Judah in the coming week.
Gabriel at: Coyotefeather@gmail.com
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