If you’re a fan of intense professional prizefighting than this weekend brings the best of it with several world titles fights between Mexican fighters, up and coming prospects and possibly the adieu of Tijuana’s great Erik Morales. And throw in a match between young heavyweights too.
Back in March two Mexico City fighters Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez dueled in a blistering fight that many dubbed as one of the best this year. They’re back again in the rematch.
Marquez (37-3, 33 KOs) defends the WBC junior featherweight title he won from Vazquez (41-4, 30 KOs) this coming Saturday from the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. The fight will be televised by Showtime.
“Everybody who has seen or heard about that fight knows it was beyond a terrific fight,” said Gary Shaw, whose promotion company is sponsoring the bout.
Before their first fight many predicted the two “Chilangos” would engage in a firefight worthy of their Aztec warrior ancestry. The fans were not disappointed though the fight ended in a seventh round technical knockout for Marquez.
“Vazquez is a hell of a fighter,” said Marquez who moved up in weight from 118 pounds to 122 pounds to compete against Vazquez for the world title. “He punches hard.”
That night Marquez jumped to an early lead with his precise boxing and accurate bombs that seemed to befuddle Vazquez during the first two rounds. But once Vazquez aimed his sights on the body and opened up some holes in Marquez’s defense, a lightening left uppercut dropped him on his knees.
Back and forth the two Mexico City fighters engaged in one of the more riveting and skillful fights seen between world champions. At the time Marquez held the IBF bantamweight title. After several damaging Marquez uppercuts, Vazquez nose began to swell and he found it difficult to breathe. He asked trainer Freddie Roach to stop the fight at the end of the seventh round.
“The pain was really intense,” Vazquez said of the broken nose he suffered that night. “If I had decided to stay in there an let myself die, I wouldn’t have a second opportunity for this rematch.”
Fans and experts were thrilled with the back and forth action including the quick pace both fighters set.
“That fight to me was the Fight of the Year,” said Henry Ramirez, who trains Chris Arreola and Josesito Lopez who is fighting on Aug. 18 in Soboba Casino. “Even though Vazquez quit in the seventh he gets a pass because everyone knows his reputation.”
In this fight Vazquez has a new trainer in Rudy Perez who replaces Freddie Roach. Perez also trains Marco Antonio Barrera.
“I’m seeking perfection,” said Vazquez.
Marquez, who is trained by Nacho Beristain, loves the attention his first fight with Vazquez has created.
“I feel obligated and responsible to give everything in the ring so I can please my fans,” said Marquez.
WBA junior featherweight title
Celestino Caballero (26-2, 18 KOs) defends his WBA title against Jorge Lacierva (32-6-6, 22 KOs) on the semi-main event in Hidalgo, Texas. It will also be televised by Showtime.
The nearly six-feet tall Panamanian fighter Caballero burst on the national fight scene when he handed current WBO junior featherweight titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon his first loss two years ago. The he burst on the international fight scene when he stopped the favored Thai fighter Somsak Sithchatchawal in the third round in that fighters home turf for the WBA title last October.
He’s a monster.
If Caballero beats Lacierva he is slated to fight the winner between Marquez and Vazquez.
Last hurrah for Morales?
Erik “El Terrible” Morales (48-5, 34 KOs) laces up the gloves once again and for perhaps the last time when he attempts to wrest the WBC lightweight title from Chicago’s David Diaz on Saturday. The fight will be shown on HBO pay-per-view.
“I’m the smarter fighter,” stated Morales who was knocked out twice by Manny Pacquiao in 2006.
Perhaps one of the greatest fighters of all time and definitely for his generation, Morales attempts to win a world title at the 135-pound weight limit against a very strong and younger Diaz.
“Now I get to defend my title which is even better and against a great legend like Erik Morales,” said Diaz (32-1-1, 17 KOs) who captured the title with a 12th round knockout over Jose Armando Santa Cruz in a fight he was losing. “You can’t ask for anything better.”
Tijuana’s Morales seeks his fourth weight class world title. He captured world titles in the junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight and now seeks a fourth weight division that would stamp him as the only Mexican prizefighter to accomplish that feat.
“I don’t know what he’s got left. What I can tell you is that David is ready,” said Diaz during a telephone press conference. “Respect stays out of the ring. If you give the guys respect in the ring he’s going to eat you up.”
Also on the same pay-per-view card is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. trying to maintain his undefeated record in a junior middleweight match against Louis Brown. It’s scheduled for 10 rounds.
Chavez had been mentioned as an opponent for Arturo Gatti had he won his bout against Alfonso Gomez, but the former Contender dashed that to bits with his knockout win.
In another world title bout Ulises Solis defends his IBF junior flyweight title against Rodel Mayol of the Philippines. Expect this to be an exciting fight.
Undefeated Kevin Johnson faces California’s Damian “Bolo” Wills in a heavyweight clash in Atlanta. It will be televised by Showtime on Friday.
“I know how he fights, it’s going to be easy,” said Johnson (15-0, 6 KOs) who was in California preparing for the fight last month.
Wills, who trains in West Los Angeles, said he expects to extract retribution for Johnson’s comments.
“He’s going to pay for those remarks,” said Wills (22-1-1, 16 KOs). “He thinks he’s going to say those things and get away with it? He just made me angry.”
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Jean Pascal (17-0) vs. Kingsley Ikeke (23-2).
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Giovanni Segura (18-0) vs. Ruben Lopez (14-11).
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Kevin Johnson (15-0) vs. Damian Wills (22-1-1).
Sat. HBO pay-per-view 6 p.m., Erik Morales (48-5) vs. David Diaz (32-1-1); Julio Cesar Chavez (32-0-1) vs. Louis Brown (15-2);
Sat. Showtime, 9 p.m., Rafael Marquez (37-3) vs. Israel Vazquez (41-4).