Toshiaki Nishioka dug down deep and took a win over Rafael Marquez last night in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
Toshiaki Nishioka was regarded as the world's best super bantamweight going into his fight with former lineal champion Rafael Marquez, and he showed why as he dominated down the stretch and retained his WBC title with a decision win in Las Vegas. Official scores were 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113. Bad Left Hook scored it 116-112 for Nishioka.
Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KO) was up against a very faded but still very tough and talented fighter in Marquez (40-7, 36 KO), who was coming back down from featherweight to take perhaps a final crack at greatness. In the early rounds, Marquez was able to do some good work with his jab, and kept the fight pretty even through the first six rounds.
But Nishioka largely landed the harder blows in those rounds, and that came into play big-time in the second half of the fight. After the sixth round, it was pretty much all Nishioka, as the 35-year-old Japanese star overwhelmed the 36-year-old Mexican with a high punch output and some terrific accuracy, particularly in the final three rounds.
In the eighth, the fight, which was still fairly even at the time, could have taken a big turn. A hard clash of heads cut Nishioka on top of the head, which gave Marquez some fire. The Mexican slugger came hard in the eighth round, but wasn't able to quite get to Nishioka. After that, Nishioka took full control, and at crunch time, he dominated the fight and sealed his victory.
In the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds, by CompuBox numbers, Nishioka landed 27/69, 31/70, and 31/84 punches. Marquez took several hard blows, and in the 12th, with his back against the wall, Rafael showed what he's still made of deep down, throwing 102 punches and trying desperately to knock out Nishioka. They fought right down to the final bell, both winging hard shots. Nishioka had enough left, and he proved his class against a fighter who was once great, and is still pretty damn good.
For Marquez, this could easily be the end of the line, but I suspect he did well enough against a top fighter that he'll come back for more. He still has some thunder in his fists, and it's not like he really has as little to lose as he does to prove. Losing fights to top fighters isn't going to hurt his standing historically, and he clearly still has the fighting spirit.
It's just a matter of what he has left physically, and compared to his peak days at 118 and 122, he's a shadow of his former self. If he still wants to fight, he doesn't look so shot that I think he should be begged to retire. He's not what he used to be, but he's still a competitive fighter.
Nishioka simply cements is status as by far the best super bantamweight in the world. He didn't take Marquez lightly at all, and he brought it hardest when he needed to most.
On the undercard: The world's best junior flyweight was also in action, as Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez predictably crushed Omar Soto in two rounds. Super bantamweight prospect Christopher Martin was upset over 10 rounds by Mexican journeyman Jose Angel Beranza. Japanese welterweight Yoshihiro Kamegai stayed unbeaten with a TKO-6 win over club fighter Hector Munoz. And Jesse Magdaleno, the younger brother of Diego and a solid super bantamweight prospect himself, improved to 6-0 (4 KO) with a one-round win over Isaac Hidalgo.