This Saturday on WealthTV, the L.A. Sports Arena
will be resurrected to house a feast for the boxing hardcore. If there’s anything
you need to know about the pugilistic arts, it’s this: nobody throws down like
the little guys. From 135 on down, the lower in weight, the higher the punch
volume and the better the action. Some fans praise the heavyweights for their
giant-sized power but when it comes to 12 rounds of sustained action with the
same amount of possibility for explosive knockouts, look no further than the
flyweight division. The talent-rich division will be featured Saturday as WBO flyweight
champ Brian Viloria takes on WBA flyweight champ Hernan “Tyson” Marquez, a
Sonora, Mexico warrior with a penchant for taking leather to deliver nuclear
bombs. Co-featured is Roman Gonzalez defending his own WBA light flyweight belt
in a stay-busy affair while awaiting the winner of the main event.
“I started when I was 11 years old,” Marquez, 34-2 (25),
told Maxboxing.com Monday evening. “I started by getting in the ring. I
idolized Jose Luis Castillo, who is from my neighborhood. I always loved to
fight. I was always getting into street fights. Someone said, ‘Why don’t you
just get in the ring?’ So I did. We’d have tournaments in my neighborhood. We’d
go from neighborhood to neighborhood doing tournaments. That’s how I got
The 24-year-old Marquez turned pro at age 16 in
October of 2005. A month prior, the now 31-year-old Viloria won his first world
title at 108 pounds.
“I have always heard of [Viloria] since I turned pro
at 16 years old. I always followed his career. He’s a good fighter but I never
thought I would be fighting a unification fight with him,” said Marquez. “He
has a lot of experience. It’s going to be a great fight. Beating Viloria will
take me to the next level. I am happy to be fighting in the U.S. It’s a great
opportunity. I respect Viloria but I expect to beat him. I am excited for this
Like all Mexican fighters who turn pro at an early
age, there is a trial-by-fire element. Oftentimes these young fighters are
essentially boys fighting men. While the street can weed out some fighters from
the rest and brief amateur careers can further close the field, the pro level
is the true proving ground.
Marquez was 27-0 with 20 knockouts when he ran into
Richie Mepranum for the first time in March 2010 at the Gaylord Hotel in
Grapevine, TX. Though he’d blown through 27 fighters and earned the name
“Tyson” for the explosive way he did it, when the fight was over, Marquez was
no longer undefeated. The scores were 99-91, 96-94 and 98-92.
“I made mistakes,” admitted Marquez. “The first loss
hurt me more because I lost my undefeated record. I felt I was ready for the
fight but I had a hard time making the weight. The people I was with at the
time, they didn’t understand nutrition and how to properly make weight. I went
three days starving myself from Tuesday to Friday, not eating and hitting the sauna.
That hurt me. My father didn’t want to take the fight but I couldn’t abandon
it. I had to do it. Even though I was weight drained, I was winning the first
four or five rounds, I thought. After that, I started feeling sick and weak. I
know I lost the fight for that reason.”
In his next fight nearly four months later, Marquez
was offered a shot at the WBA 115-pound belt against Nonito Donaire, now a
titleholder at 122 pounds. While Marquez knew the fight was risky, he is a
fighter and risking is what fighters do.
“I am a 112-pound fighter,” said Marquez who stands
5’2” with a 61½” reach. “They wanted this fight at 115. They took me because
they knew I would lose the fight. I had nothing to lose. The chance to make
$5000 was big for me. I needed the money, so I said, ‘Let me take the risk.’
The only thing I asked was that, win or lose, I wanted to be given a chance at
112 where I feel I am the best.”
Marquez took the fight and ended up losing by eighth
round stoppage. While he was game, he was simply, as he put it, a true
112-pound fighter. The back-to-back losses changed everything for him.
“After I lost to Donaire, I wanted to go back to
112. I had a talk with my team and my father, my chef and my physical trainer
to work on my physical stamina. I didn’t want to take just any fight. I wanted
to dedicate myself to preparing for the right fight and preparing correctly,”
Marquez took two more fights in 2010 to tune-up
after the loss and then opened 2011 with arguably the fight of 2011. With 50
days to prepare and an advance from his team, Marquez began to prepare for a
title shot in the division he truly belonged.
With the WBA flyweight belt on the line, on April 2,
2011, Marquez and Luis Concepcion unleashed hell on each other. Both men hit
the canvas in the first round and each time one seized control, the other would
wrest it right back. Marquez dropped Concepcion in the third but the war raged
on. Marquez, once thought a mere brawler, changed up his tactics in this one,
boxing and countering from the outside and attacking only when he needed to.
Being a southpaw was starting to have advantages for Marquez as he boxed and
punched in equal measure.
In the 10th, Marquez dropped Concepcion
with what appeared to be a hard jab. Concepcion popped right back up from the
shot and a fight broke out. Marquez was wobbled by Concepcion. For a moment, it
appeared he might get stopped but he fought back gamely until the bell.
Between rounds, the ringside doctor looked at
Concepcion’s damaged left eye and waved the fight off.
Just two fights removed from back-to-back defeat, “Tyson”
Marquez was back.
“We made weight comfortably without starving,”
recalled Marquez. “The difference was that I came prepared for the fight. No
weight issues. I was hungry to win the fight.”
For this fight, Marquez has prepared up in Oxnard,
CA with Robert Garcia at his Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. Garcia was once
Viloria’s trainer. The two split in 2010.
“This is my first time working with him. Basically,
I wanted to get away from home because of a lot of distractions,” Marquez
explained of his sudden switch to a Southern California-based training camp. “I
had heard about the Viloria fight for a while. I just wanted to stay sharp. So
[I took the fights with Richie Mepranum and Fernando Lumacad) and won by
decision with no injuries. The reason I went to work with Robert Garcia
was to get away from all the distractions of home. Also, Robert Garcia knows
Viloria very well and where to hurt him. That helped me make up my mind.”
While the big networks are looking at televising
mismatches and fights based on personal relationships as opposed to good
business sense, gems like Marquez vs. Viloria fall to the new player in the
sport, WealthTV. Credit goes to them for knowing a great fight when they see
it. Viloria is an experienced boxer-puncher who, at age 31 and a record of 31-3
with 18 knockouts, knows who he is and what he has to do to win. His right hand
is the perfect counterpoint to Marquez’s long left or explosive right hook. The
fight is a can’t-miss – and also one you don’t want to walk away from for one
am prepared for 12 rounds but I don’t expect it to go the distance,” said a
confident Marquez. “I believe the fight will end towards round ten. Either way,
I am ready for a war. It’s not going to a decision.”
On one card, we will witness a potential “Fight of
the Year” candidate that unifies two belts in a division, leading to another
unification bout. And all of the fights involved in that scenario will likely
end in entertaining knockouts. How often can you say that?
All hail our smaller warriors.