LOS ANGELES-It wasn’t decisive but Rafael Marquez got his revenge with a third round stoppage over the cut and bleeding Israel Vazquez as he had predicted and IBF bantamweight titleholder held on to his title with a majority draw on Saturday at the Staples Center.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for almost 3 years,” said a jubilant Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs).
Marquez had predicted that their fourth encounter would not last long and he kept his promise in front of more than 3,500 fans. In the co-main event Perez and challenger Abner Mares fought to a majority draw.
In the fourth battle between Mexico City’s two rivals, Marquez looked better, fought quicker but cautiously against Vazquez (44-5, 33 KOs) who had won their last two collisions that were both voted Fight of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
Behind a stiff and accurate left jab Marquez kept the heavy hitting Vazquez from running in. At the end of the first round both unloaded with combinations but those jabs seemed to win the round for Marquez.
Vazquez’s right eye in the second round opened up from a punch and was later injured further when both fighters collided heads. Blood came streaming down Vazquez’s face. Marquez was able to land power shots through Vazquez guard but not enough to hurt the warrior. In the last five seconds both fighters collided heads with Marquez returning to his corner with blood on his forehead.
“He hit me with a good shot and my eye opened up. I could feel it was a punch. My eye couldn’t open up. I didn’t know I was cut until I saw the cut,” said Vazquez.
A more determined Marquez emerged in the third round and immediately worked on Vazquez’s cut. A right hand to that cut dropped Vazquez to his knee as the referee counted to eight. The fight resumed but Marquez jumped into action and fired combinations as Vazquez retreated to the ropes. A Marquez right hand connected and referee Raul Caiz Jr. jumped in to stop the fight at 1:33 of the third round.
“That was the plan to go directly to the eye,” Marquez said. “This fight plan was different than the other fights I had with my last corner.”
Vazquez said he lost to a great fighter and would not rule out a fifth. His manager Frank Espinoza Sr. said that is not going to happen.
“That’s it. His career is over he never has to fight again,” Espinoza said.
Marquez and Vazquez can end their rivalry with two wins apiece and call it a career.
“I’m happy because we gave the fans four great fights,” Vazquez said.
Marquez was surprised but happy with the outcome.
“Israel Vazquez is a hell of a fighter,” Marquez said.
Perez vs. Mares
Perez (20-0-1, 14 KOs) couldn’t seem to find the defensively proficient Mares (20-0-1, 13 KOs) who landed several left hooks. A big Mares right hand ended the first round on a solid note for the challenger.
Mares opened the second round just like the first. Left hooks continued to land but in this round Perez also connected on a few left hooks. A barrage of body shots followed by a overhand right landed for Mares.
Perez pressured Mares in the third round and began opening up with more punches. Mares turned things around by pinning Perez on the ropes and fighting inside. A left uppercut found the mark and both battered each other till the bell.
The Perez machine began to roll in the fourth round as the Colombian slipped into another gear with combo after combo. Several left hooks by Perez landed and gave him the round.
Both fighters slowed in the fifth round but Perez ended the frame with some body shots while Mares went into defensive mode. It could have been the Colombian’s round.
Back to boxing Mares turned things around as he caught Perez with quick one-twos and an occasional right hand. Mares moved side to side and easily captured the round as Perez struggled to keep up.
In the seventh Perez closed the distance and found Mares with several right hands, but Mares worked combinations and landed a right hand at the bell in a very close round.
Perez scored the best punch of the eighth round with a solid right hand that oohed the crowd. Mares landed blows but not with the same intensity.
Mares worked the ninth round inside as Perez seemed to take the round off for a respite. Though Mares didn’t land a big shot he was the fighter applying the pressure as the Colombian cruised.
Once again mares became the aggressor as he worked Perez up and down in the 10th. Both traded shots with Mares landing an overhand right that connected. Both fought furiously in the last 10 seconds.
Mares used his defense to offset Perez’s attack and then went to the body. Both fighters are visibly slowing down in the 11th round. Perez worked his left jab effectively jamming it on Mares. He was winning the round until a Mares right hand connected big time twice in the last seconds.
The last round saw both looking to land the big punch. It didn’t come until the last 15 seconds when Mares landed two big blows that seemed to rock Perez. The Colombian kept his cool and fired back until the final bell.
Judge Marty Denkin had it 115-113 for Mares and judges Gwen Adair and Eugenia Williams had it 114-114 for a majority draw.
“I won this fight. It was not a draw. Im willing to fight a rematch but it’s up to my promoter,” said Mares. “He’s a good fighter but he never hurt me.”
Mares remains undefeated but does not win the title. It remains with Perez.
“I’m really sad I thought I won the fight. I fight for the crowd and for the people. And that crowd saw me won but the judges didn’t I want the rematch,” said Mares. “I showed him a high caliber fighter tonight. In the last round I thought I was going to KO him but I didn’t.”
Molina vs. Tapia
Carlos Molina (used his technique to win an eight round decision over Tijuana’s Humberto Tapia in a lightweight battle.
Molina landed three crackling left hooks in the first round against Tapia and it looked like it might be an easy fight. But in the second round the Tijuana fighter caught Molina with a right hand that bloodied the Norwalk fighter’s mouth.
In third round action Molina trapped the taller Tapia in the corner and rocked him with a left hook. That upset the Mexican boxer who erupted with his own punches. In the final 10 seconds a big right hand by Molina connected. He tried to follow up but ran out of clock.
Both fighters slowed down in the fourth round, but in the last minute Molina opened up again with that left hook that just could not miss.
In the next three rounds it was Molina’s tighter punches against Tapia’s wider punches with no telling blows. Molina’s right hand is beginning to sneak in more.
All three judges scored it for Molina 79-73 and 78-74 twice.
Rios vs. De Leon
Featherweight Ronny Rios (11-0, 5 KOs) seldom used a jab and found Texas boxer Lupe De Leon (8-11, 4 KOs) much tougher than his record showed.
Rios started fast as De Leon waited and waited to see what the youngster had to offer.
The first two rounds went to the busier Rios. In the next two rounds De Leon caught Rios in between exchanges with some heavy handed left hooks. From then on the fight was on.
De Leon didn’t throw many punches but when he unleashed them he moved Rios back with the force of the impact. In the fourth round Rios opened up quickly but ran into a sledgehammer left hook. Rios fired back with a right to the body that seemed to bother De Leon who moved out of the range until the last 10 seconds when he connected on yet another left hook.
Both fighters fought inside for the remaining two rounds and Rios seemed to understand the fight was still in doubt. Though he landed many combinations Rios could not stop that left hook counter.
After six rounds Rios won by unanimous decision
Rodrigo Garcia vs.T. Washington
Undefeated junior middleweight Rodrigo Garcia (7-0, 5 KOs) blitzed through veteran Taronze Washington (14-13, 7 KOs) in a six round bout. The Oscar De La Hoya look-alike had decent speed and power but couldn’t put away Washington despite some big bombs throughout the fight. All three judges scored it 60-54 for Garcia.