Rafael Marquez thought he did enough to defeat Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka on Saturday night in Las vegas, but the judges disagreed. They scored it 117-111, 116-112, 115-113 for Nishioka, who retained his WBC super bantamweight crown. For that matter, TSS disagrees with Rafa, forcefully; he looked a step behind most of the night and this decision to us lacks even a hint of controversy.
The 35 year-old Nishioka goes to 39-4-3, while the 36 year-old Mexican drops to 40-7. He lost to JuanMa last November before stopping journeyman Eduardo Becerril in July.
Much of the bout was a tactical battle fought at a measured pace. Both men rarely threw caution out the window, as they looked for prime openings. The lefty Nishioka scored well with his left hand often. Marquez looked like he saw openings but wasn't able to pull the proverbial trigger. Nishioka's D was impressive; he slipped, ducked and moved to avoid direct hits. Rafa heated up a bit in the eighth, after an accidental clash of heads. But Nishioka remained elusive and didn't get drawn into a rock em sock em scenario.
The distance between the fighters closed some in the later rounds. That didn't favor the Mexican, who has a 76% to 52% edge in KO percentage. Rafa looked beat in round ten, while the Japanese boxer had ample energy in his tank. Both men showed urgency in the 12th, and Rafa landed some clean blows, more than in other rounds, but it was not enough. When the decision was announced, Rafa looked dismayed but the crowd didn't show disgust. No booing was heard. The right man got the win.