Strange sport we follow, no?

In boxing, unlike in, say, marriage, the more success you show in tearing the other guys head off, and he yours, the more money you can make together.

Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez have gone at in nuclear fashion three times, and will get it on again on May 22nd, at the Staples Center in LA.

The scrap will be shown on Showtime, and I must, high up in the piece, applaud Ken Hershman and company for paying good money for this, and not offering it on a pay per view basis, unlike the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz sequel, which will be a PPV. We take out share of shots at TSS, but never let it be said that we dont offer ample claps on the back when warranted…

Speaking of approbation, Vazquez (44-4, 32 KOs) and Marquez (38-5, with 34 KOs) deserve it, bucketloads of it. Its a pronounced pleasure to take these two in; they sign on the dotted line, and praise be, actually take pleasure in telling us that they 1) of course do it for the money, but 2) do what they do largely for the fans enjoyment.

They dont get bogged down in excessive idolatry of money, but matter of factly acknowledge that its nice to be getting meaty purses at this stage of their life.

The 32-year-old Mexican-born Vazquez, who holds a 2-1 lead in the series, and won the last tangle between the ultra-rivals, via SD12 (on March 1, 2008), has more question marks attached to him as we look eagerly toward the May 22 beef. Hes fought only once since the last Marquez fight, winning a KO9 from journeyman Antonio Priolo last October. Hes had multiple surgeries on his right eye, to repair a detached right retina suffered in Fight 3, and there were times he wondered if he would ever fight for a fee again. He touched on this during a Tuesday afternoon conference call to hype the May 22/Showtime event.

How much did (the three prior bouts) take away? he said, rhetorically, through interpreter Eric Gomez. But Im very happy and very motivated for the fourth fight. Im finally making money, and if I feel the way I do now, Ill fight til Im 50. He said hes amped to shut up those who noted he looked rusty in his return fight.

The Mexican native Marquez didnt light the boxing world afire since the last Vazquez bout. He stopped journeyman Jose Mendoza last May, and at age 35, nobody knows if this May 22nd, he might well look it.

Israel is very strong and resilient, he said through the interpreter. I feel physically fine, and I matured from those fights. I still feel as I did during the three of those fights.

Promoter Gary Shaw, who would like the winner to fight his guy, Vic Darchinyan, said he likes Vazquez, also his guy, duh—within five rounds. But neither of these classy cats swerved into trash talk. No need to, really; theyve given the goods three times before, and no extra hype is neccessary to build an audience.

Both men agreed that there are plusses and minuses to knowing their foe so well. I see that as a positive and as a negative too, the California resident Vazquez said. I know his tendencies, where to attack. The negatives, you can always correct them. Marquez, the older brother of the more heralded Juan Manuel Marquez, agreed. Its positive and a little negative. There are some things I can correct. Neither man, unsurprisingly, wanted to share what mistakes theyll be aiming to shore up.

Vazquez especially is fan centered, refreshing in an age where too often too few people dont get that its us, and our premium cable fees, and PPV payouts, which churn up huge wads of cash for a lucky, select few. More than anything, the fans ask me, When is the fourth fight? If not for them, it probably would not take place. You sometimes get motivated by money, and its very good money were getting…but a big reason for doing this, is for the fans. By the way, both guys will be making more than $750,000 apiece for the fourth installment of the classic tug o war.

And might we see a fifth installment? Its up to the fans, Marquez said. I do this for the fans. Im going to do my job, and if the fans want to see it, I have to pay attention to the fans.

Shaw also gets a backslap, for not trying to BS a BSer. He said the reason guys fight is for money, and he didnt slip into a hyperbolic state, talking about legacy and whatnot. If he would, he said, hed take them both on a world tour, and have them fight in Asia, South America and Europe.
OK, that might be a tad on the sadistic side for me. Maybe itd be nice to put each in with a feather-fisted counterpuncher type if this fight is cut from the same cloth than the first three. But its not for me to say…

Vazquez sounds jazzed to keep brawling with Marquez until the fans have said no mas. Well probably end up in wheelchairs, still battling, throwing punches at each other in wheelchairs, he said, chuckling.