It was a big weekend of boxing but the best matchup of the night belonged to Showtime. Israel Vazquez took on Rafael Marquez in a bout that garnered Fight of the Year buzz before it ever happened. It certainly lived up to the hype. Flyweight knockout artist Vic Darchinyan was on the undercard in a one-sided beating that had a scary ending. Overall a great card for Showtime when up against stiff competition from HBO.
Vic Darchinyan vs. Victor Burgos
Darchinyan keeps talking about fighting bigger names but until he can get a big deal signed, he’s going to be fighting guys like Burgos that are underneath him. Darchinyan awkwardly stalks Burgos and shows no respect for Burgos by leaving his hands down. It looks like Darchinyan is trying to end the fight with one punch and it’s the first round. Darchinyan lands a big left and Burgos takes a knee after a wild hook to the body. Darchinyan is just teeing up for big shots. It seems like Darchinyan has only landed about ten punches through two rounds but half of them either knock Burgos back a few steps or force him to take a knee.
Victor Burgos connects on a couple of nice combinations in the third round. Burgos is trying to box in there but Darchinyan is dead set on making this a Toughman Contest. The fact that Burgos landed punches seems to piss of Darchinyan. It doesn’t really change the pace of the fight as Darchinyan is still just loading up for one big shot. Some nice exchanges occur in round 5 that end up with Burgos being wobbled. Darchinyan is taunting a lot in this fight, perhaps to suggest a change in nickname from The Raging Bull to Sugar Vic Darchinyan. Nah, it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.
The fighters get tangled up in round seven causing Darchinyan to fall into the ropes and subsequently down to the mat. It was ruled a slip but the ref never stepped in and that allowed Burgos to land some clean shots on Darchinyan. That didn’t end up well for Burgos as it just pissed off Darchinyan again and fueled him to destroy Burgos for the rest of the round.
It’s more of the same in the final rounds and the only question going into the 12th round is will Victor Burgos be able to go the distance? The answer is no. The referee stops the fight with about a minute and a half to go as Burgos staggers in the corner. It’s a TKO win for Darchinyan but Burgos is looking awful in his corner. He’s actually taken out on a stretcher in what has quickly become a frightening scene. Ring physician Paul Wallace said Burgos’ vital signs were normal, but that “We didn’t like the way he was responding.”
Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez
This fight has generated an anxious buzz amongst boxing fans and for good reason. These two fighters were made for each other and while both are on tremendous winning streaks, they also produce solid action fights. Israel Vazquez’s fight with Jhonny Gonzalez was a nominee for 2006 fight of the year at Inside Fights. With 32 of his 36 wins coming by knockout, Rafael Marquez also has a pension for excitement. Marquez is coming up in weight to face Vazquez for his WBC Super Bantamweight Title.
Both fighters said they would come out aggressive early and while they both landed good shots, it was certainly no Hagler/Hearns moment. Vazquez is already bleeding from the nose. Marquez takes over at the end of the first round and even rocks Vazquez with under ten seconds remaining in the opening frame. Rafael Marquez is looking very good through two rounds. He lands a beautiful combination in the round three that knock Vazquez back. It also wakes Vazquez up. Vazquez unloads on Marquez and knocks him down with a left uppercut. WOW. Vazquez was tight in rounds one and two but getting hit with that combo just fired him up. Some fighters need to get hit in order to be reminded they are in a fight. It acts as an on switch for their intensity. Vazquez is that fighter tonight.
Both guys trade clean punches as if defense isn’t a part of the unified rules of boxing. It’s as if they are accepting a punch as merely a job hazzard, a nuisance that delays one man from hitting the other for a few seconds. Marquez responds well to the knockdown and likely takes the 4th round. Vazquez complains of getting “thumbed up the nose” in the fifth round and it seems like that would be extremely uncomfortable during a boxing match. It causes Vazquez to temporarily stop fighting. It was temporary because Marquez used the lull to rush the champion and as stated before, fighting back is the only way that either of these guys know how to play defense. It makes for a nice flurry to close the round.
The pace of this fight is incredible after six rounds. Vazquez lands huge shots in the seventh round but Marquez is taking them well. The seventh round ends and abruptly, so does the fight. The Vazquez corner stops the fight out of nowhere and Rafael Marquez is deemed the winner. Upon further review, Israel Vazquez had been having trouble breathing due to a broken nose suffered in the second round. It was only made worse by the “thumbing incident” in round five that replay showed instead to be two stiff jabs. He didn’t want to fight anymore and Rafael Marquez becomes the new champion by TKO in 7th round.
This was a spectacular fight that lived up to it’s billing and an early candidate for fight of the year. The fight did end suddenly but it was seven rounds of action-packed boxing. There is no controversy over the decision. If the nose had been broken due to a headbutt or another illegal blow than the fight would have been tainted. Instead, Marquez broke his opponent’s nose early in the fight and earned the stoppage. It’s a great fight that will almost certainly be contested again in the future. In fact, Gary Shaw confirmed that he is interested in an August rematch between the two in the post-fight news conference.
Looking like that, Israel Vazquez may want to reconsider. Boxing fans certainly hope he doesn’t and it seems inevitable that a rematch will happen before year’s end.
Come back to Inside Fights for a full report of the fights on HBO.