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Rafael Marquez vs. Israel Vasquez Fight Preview and Prediction

When: Saturday, May 22, 2010
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Showtime at 9:00 p.m. (EST)
Weight Class: Featherweights: 12 Rounds

By Scotty L of Predictem.com

Rafael Marquez, 38-5 (34 KOs), Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico. Vs. Israel Vasquez, 44-4 (32 KOs), Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico.

Fight Odds: Rafael Marquez (-120), Israel Vasquez (Even)

Analysis: Here we go again! In three fights, these two have redefined “heart.” Their best moments in the ring together are like scenes from Rocky. Watching these two dig deep to the bottom of their souls have led many to call it the best trilogy in boxing. These two have matched skill, power, and speed, but also heart, will, determination, and pure guts.

On Saturday on Showtime at the Staples Center in L.A., these two great warriors will do battle again. But something is different. They are no longer the best fighters in the world, forced into long layoffs stemming from the beatings of their first three fights. It’s almost as if they have existed in a vacuum the past several years.

Their trilogy has been great human drama, but hasn’t done Marquez or Vasquez any favors in regards to their viability. Each fight featured two-way butt-whippings that take a lot out of fighters, especially ones who already have some ring mileage. Their last two fights, especially the third one, have seen both warriors absorb untold punishment. While we marvel at their ability to take it, we must also be realistic about how it affects their futures.

Vasquez has won the last two meetings, but hasn’t carried on like you imagine a winner would. Horribly battered from the past two fights, Vasquez took an extended layoff before returning in October. He seemed to have some facial surgery and looks a little different. Hopefully the layoff did him some good, but he struggled with oft-beaten Angel Priolo before putting him away in his comeback bout. Having turned pro in 1995, many have rightfully questioned Vasquez’ comeback. He has been in a lot of wars and the upside at this point seems minimal in light of the potential massive downside he could incur by sticking around too long.

Then again, Marquez is also shopworn. It might seem like not long ago, but his two victories over Mark Johnson were almost a decade ago. At 35, he has been in a ton of grueling fights. He somehow seems a tad fresher than Vasquez, however. It feels strange saying that about the loser of 2/3 fights, but it’s not unprecedented. Many fighters have fought at a superhuman level to overcome their opponent, only to be in an even more dilapidated state after the fight.

Then again, what rules can we really apply to these two? Heart is the most immeasurable quality in a fighter and the determining factor in all their fights so far. Since they have only really been fighting each other for the past several years, there are no other points of reference to go off of.

I have a feeling that one of two things have happened to these two fighters: Either they no longer have the ability to operate at the death-defying clip they once operated at, or they have gained perspective that they don’t need to do that anymore. I suspect the former might be the case. I think Vasquez wants to drag it into the trenches again. Marquez doesn’t need that in his life. He is at the age now where he should use his legs and spare himself the trauma of prolonged and grueling infighting.

I suspect we will not see the kind of fight these two are known for. It would almost be like if Ali and Frazier decided to have a fourth fight in 1980. The window of these two fighter’s effectiveness seems to have expired. With all the killers at featherweight, I wouldn’t be the only one shocked to see either of these men enjoy a career renaissance at this point. This isn’t intended as a knock on these warriors, but quite the opposite. The fruits of their labor will never be forgotten.

Scotty's Pick to Win: It rings hollow to say Marquez should just use his legs and jab more to make things easier on himself. If it were so easy for him to do that, why didn’t he do it in their last two fights? I think the main difference is Vasquez. If he does not come with the same kind of fire that characterized his past two efforts, Marquez might just have enough real estate to conduct a long-range clinic.

Watching their past fights, it is clear that a faded fighter will not be able to go at that pace. Marquez at least has the dimension of boxing in his repertoire to fall back on. Facing a slower Vasquez, Marquez should have an easier time controlling distance. Power is the last thing to go on a fighter, and both men have plenty of it. Something tells me, however, that Marquez is going to be able to connect first and more often. He will have some snap on those punches, so maybe he can dissuade Vasquez a bit.

Maybe both men can rise to the occasion and rekindle their fire, but I expect a calmer fight. Marquez will box, Vasquez will try to get inside, and both men will have their moments. I think Marquez has enough in the tank to make his work count more and allow him to win a competitive but clear decision. Lay the –130 on Rafael Marquez to win.

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