Last night's HBO and Showtime cards went more or less as expected, except for one thing: Israel Vazquez quit after the seventh round of his fight against Rafael Marquez, crowning Marquez as the new WBC super bantamweight champion.
But describing the Marquez/Vazquez showdown so dryly as to simply say, "Vazquez quit," is not giving the fight its due. The much-hyped fight between the two Mexican champions lived up to its billing, with furious action that had no rest, resulting in Vazquez (41-4) flooring Marquez (37-3) with a mighty left hook in the third round, only to have Marquez -- who was clearly and cleanly outboxing his opponent -- rebound beautifully and continue the gameplan that had been working for him.
Marquez was landing very hard shots throughout the contest, with precise accuracy. Vazquez never seemed to be Marquez's total equal in the fight, but with his thunderous power looming, it never seemed like it was a true mismatch or anything of the sort. And Marquez acknowledged Vazquez's power after the fight: "He's the first one that knocked me down with a punch to the jaw."
Plus, we saw Jhonny Gonzalez outbox Vazquez last fall, only for the puncher to fight through the storm and take a well-earned, exciting victory. This time, though, Marquez's fists made sure Vazquez wouldn't be able to stage a similar comeback.
With his nose badly broken, Vazquez was unable to get air in without breathing through his mouth. According to his trainer, Freddie Roach, Vazquez had been in that state for a couple of rounds, and wanted to call it off earlier than he did. Roach asked him to suck it up, thinking Marquez was tiring himself out, but Vazquez was simply taking too much punishment as a result of not being able to properly breathe.
Roach's thinking is something that has been a minor issue in the past for Marquez, who often comes out looking fantastic, only to hit a wall in the middle rounds before finishing very strongly. Many people expected that to happen again last night, but the broken nose prevented us from finding out.
At the time of the bout's ending, Marquez was ahead on two of the official cards. I had it as a draw at 66-66, and Brent had Marquez up 67-65. It was a very good fight that could have had a phenomenal second half. Vazquez had gotten himself back into the fight piece by piece, and that was fighting with a broken nose.
As for the possibility of a rematch? I'd bet my children -- if I had any -- on seeing just that.
Marquez: "I proved I am the best champion. Vazquez hit me so hard. He is a great champion. He deserves a rematch."
Vazquez: "If Marquez wants a rematch, I would be happy to fight him again."
We may be looking at the next great rivalry in boxing.
On the undercard in Carson, California, Vic Darchinyan (28-0) dominated an overmatched Victor Burgos (39-15-3) to score a 12th round TKO, when the referee finally jumped in to stop the fight, which really should have been done rounds earlier. The unorthodox Darchinyan hurt Burgos repeatedly in the fight, but the game Mexican fighter never stopped trying to establish something, though he also never got close to doing so. Burgos didn't have the size or the power to stand with Darchinyan, who unleashed some hellacious shots.
The Darchinyan camp is also already saying that the fight should have been stopped much sooner than it was. Darchinyan's trainer, Billy Hussein, said, "(Burgos) was never going to win that fight. Why let him be punished and cop a beating like that? ... I do wish his corner or the referee would have stopped it earlier. ... (Darchinyan is) disappointed and pretty upset. There's been no celebrations."
After the fight, Burgos was conscious but clearly in bad, bad shape from absorbing so much punishment, the majority of it to the head. Burgos was carried out on a stretcher, unable to support his own weight. I heard nothing further after the fight, but the ring physician said his vital signs were normal. Best of luck to Victor Burgos from all of us at Bad Left Hook, and from everyone in and around the boxing community.
Darchinyan is expected to move out of the flyweight division and pursue a fight with Jorge Arce next.
On HBO, Edison Miranda survived an eighth round knockdown at the hands of Allan Green to win a 10-round unanimous decision, improving to 28-1 and showing a much more well-rounded game than most have given him credit for, Green included. Green falls to 23-1.
In the main event from San Juan's Coliseo Roberto Clemente, Miguel Cotto soundly thrashed mandatory challenger Oktay Urkal en route to an 11th round TKO victory when Urkal's corner waved the white towel.
It was something of a bizarre fight, though. Urkal was repeatedly warned and eventually twice had points deducted for headbutting, but Urkal's corner complained after the fight of Cotto getting away with several kidney punches. I never though Cotto's body shots looked illegal, but I wasn't taking them. They did look brutal all night long, though, and Urkal was throwing his head around an awful lot.
Urkal (38-4) does deserve a little bit of credit for being wily enough to know that headbutts and crowding would save him from being floored by Cotto (29-0). Cotto was the stronger puncher and the better boxer. Urkal did not duck-and-run as much as I thought he might, but it was clear from the get-go that he had no chance against the champion.
Cotto now moves on to face Zab Judah in June, given that Judah wins a tune-up fight against some chump in April in Tunica, Mississippi, which he will. Judah was in attendance, though I didn't stick around long enough to see if he had anything to say after Cotto's victory. I also don't much care to know if he had anything to say, as I think this is going to be Judah's last crack at big-time boxing for a while. If he loses to Cotto, that's three in a row. It is a risky fight for Judah to take at this stage of his career, but it's a big win situation potentially for Cotto. Like him or not -- and I don't -- Judah still has a little bit of name recognition and some rub to give a fighter like Cotto, who has great marketing potential to go along with his in-ring skills.
Also last night, Chris John retained the WBA featherweight title with an easy unanimous decision win over Jose Rojas. John improves to 39-0-1, and he is a very good fighter, but he's got to fight outside of Indonesia if he ever plans to become recognized as one of the true best pound-for-pound, but that would also likely require him to move up to super featherweight, where he could take on someone like Pacquiao, Barrera, Valero, Soto, Guzman, etc. There's a lot more competition, and I just don't think John is going to rush into fighting someone like Orlando Salido or Robert Guerrero at feather.
On Friday night, "Ol' Unreliable" Danny Williams brought out his good stuff, scoring a 9th round knockout against Scott Gammer to capture the British heavyweight title. The 33-year old Williams fought at the second-lowest weight of his career, checking in at 228 at the weigh-ins, 39 pounds below what he weighed in his previous fight, a third-round KO loss to Fraudley Harrison. Williams' lowest official weight is 227, which was at his first fight in 1995. Who knows with Williams?
Showtime also ran ads for a Diego Corrales/Joshua Clottey bout on April 7, which is very intriguing. I honestly expected Corrales would take it easy with a move up in weight, but Clottey is no joke. He gave Antonio Margarito a fight in December, and his only other loss was to Carlos Baldomir by disqualification in 1999. Corrales hasn't won since his 2005 victory over Jose Luis Castillo.
On the other hand, Clottey has yet to score a big victory. Corrales could very well shed further light on Clottey's weaknesses, or he could be the guy that Clottey beats to really get his name on the map. Corrales, like Zab Judah, seems old and a little used-up for a guy who's only 29 years old. Both could still very well have great career revitalizations, but to say they're teetering on the brink of top status is an understatement.
But really, all I've got on my mind right now is Marquez/Vazquez II, hopefully sometime this summer or early fall. That fight can not come quickly enough for me.