Friday, August 3, 2007

As Good As It Gets

Now that I've tackled some of the worst boxing has to offer, I'll tackle the best.

Saturday comes a rematch between super-bantamweights (122 lbs.) Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez. Marquez is one-half of the best boxer/brother combination ever. Ever. Like his brother Juan Manuel, Rafael has skill for days, although less so than his bigger sibling. Juan Manuel can punch hard, but his brother is on a whole other plane. Rafael is the consensus hardest puncher in the sport, and as high as third best overall on some pound-for-pound lists. In the first round of their first scintillating fight (highlights here) just a few months ago, Marquez crushed Vasquez' nose and had him on unsteady legs with a straight right. The crushed nose would prove Vasquez' eventual undoing, as he quit after round seven because of an inability to breath through the blood and cartilage.

That Vasquez bounced back from that cataclysmic first round to deck Marquez in the third tells you two things you need to know about Israel. One, he too, can punch like hell. Two, he only gets better as the fight goes deeper. He did it to the very tough Jhonny Gonzalez, and he was building a head of steam before he quit against Marquez. He's most boxing fans' kind of fighter -- the kind that never backs up and trusts his power and his chin to outlast the other guy.

The first fight was building into an instant classic before its anti-climatic ending. There was the brilliant first round for Marquez. The comeback and knockdown for Vasquez. The technical mastery of Marquez' jab and counterpunches followed by Vazquez' technical mastery of fighting in close. The numerous times both men just stood and traded massive shots. Why not do it again?

MY PREDICTION: Marquez by middle rounds knockout. Marquez has advantages in power, speed and technique. Vasquez has a brittle nose, given that it was probably broken in the Gonzalez fight, too, and he is coming back to the ring a little quickly for a guy who's been in a few rough slogs of late. Plus, Marquez says he has had more time to train, while Vazquez has pinballed around to various trainers. I usually don't buy into that "I'm in the best shape of my life!" talk from fighters, but Marquez hasn't claimed that -- only that he is better prepared.
CONFIDENCE: 65%. Vazquez proved he can change the tide with one punch in the first fight. He also figured out a way around Marquez' jab as the fight progressed and got inside, where he has the one skill advantage. And Marquez, for all his skill, disregards defense. Vazquez could very well score a knockout or decision win.
ALLEGIANCE: I like both fighters, but Marquez is a personal favorite. I will cheer him on. More, though, I will cheer for a good fight. Not that these two need my help making that.














Nothing snarky to say here. Marquez, left, and Vasquez just freaking bring it. (from kocorner.com)

3 comments:

bob said...

Marquez wins before the 9th.

I am calling an upset...Morales by split decision

Tim -- tstarks2@gmail.com said...

You've not been wrong yet, so I'm now regretting my call for Diaz.

alex said...

How the HELL do you know so much about such obscure people?

Color me impressed.