LOS ANGELES-Sitting inside the a Mexican restaurant located in the middle of historic Olvera Street, junior featherweight world champion Israel Vazquez and former champion Rafael Marquez strike a pose.
It’s the last time the two Mexico City warriors will do any posing side by side.
Vazquez (42-4, 31 KOs) defends his WBC and Ring world titles against Marquez (37-4, 33 KOs) on March 1, at the Home Depot Center in Carson. It’s the third fight between the little big men and will be televised on Showtime.
Both fighters arrive in L.A. on Wednesday to kickoff the final chapter.
If you’ve never seen refined violence to the 10th degree, then this is your big chance. Both Mexico City prizefighters are the best at their craft and you won’t find two other boxers with their fighting skills and passion for knockouts.
This trilogy is all about history.
“It’s why you fight, to make history,” said Marquez, 32, while inside El Paseo Inn located near the historic Avila House, the first non-Native American dwelling in the city of Los Angeles. “You fight so people can remember you long after you stop fighting.”
Inside the restaurant more than a 100 representatives of various media outlets crowded inside to see the Mexico City pair make their formal opening comments on the third fight.
The first meeting took place at the same venue the Home Depot and was set up so quickly that the public barely had enough time to generate interest. Within two weeks of the actual fight Vazquez and Marquez met at the tennis stadium and lit up the arena with their fury.
Marquez won when Vazquez was unable to continue because of an inability to breathe. Though the TV announcers and others saw the capitulation and as act of disgrace, Vazquez knew he would get another chance.
The rematch took place in Texas last summer and proved as explosive as anticipated. But the end results were not to Marquez’s liking.
“Everything went wrong from the beginning,” said Marquez. “First there were no commission members around when you needed them, then there were problems with the hand wraps. I went into the ring mad and out of focus.”
Marquez, unlike in his first encounter with Vazquez, did little jabbing and seemed more inclined to stretch out his opponent with every punch.
“I tell you I was out of focus,” Marquez says. “I had no concentration for that fight and it showed in the way I fought.”
Several thunderous exchanges saw Vazquez’s left hook inflict damage early in the fight.
In the sixth round another left hook sent Marquez careening around the ring. The referee stepped in and stopped the fight much to the chagrin of the fans and Marquez’s supporters.
Marquez isn’t giving any excuses but says he feels much better in California than Texas.
“This is where the fight should have been last time too,” said Marquez who along with his older brother Juan Manuel Marquez fought in the Forum Boxing shows early in their careers. “People know me and now Vazquez in California.”
Scott Woodward, vice president of Sycuan Ringside Promotions, said these two fighters cannot fail to excite.
“These are two legitimate pound for pound guys,” Woodward said. “That’s how you get a Fight of the Year.”
Many boxing publications named their second contest as the best fight of 2007.
Eric Gomez, vice president of Golden Boy Promotions, said even their first fight was “an instant classic” and deserving of credit as one of the best fights of 2007.
“These two little guys have big hearts,” Gomez said.
Vazquez, who recaptured the WBC junior featherweight title in Texas, said admiration for his opponent only drives him harder.
“Rafael Marquez is a great warrior who inside the ring will try to knock me out at all cost. I don’t hate him for that, I respect him,” said Vazquez. “Outside the ring we can be friends.”
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?