Photos © Damian Dovarganes / AP
I never got to experience what trilogies like the action-packed series between Rocky Graziano and Tony Zale really felt like, or the serious significance of Ali-Frazier.
While I think you can study boxing history and learn a lot from it, it's my opinion that it's tough to really feel what things were truly like unless you were around to experience them. You don't have to be there live (although that never hurts), but feeling the hype, the buzz and the glamour of a fight or any other event is hard to duplicate on tape.
What are the best boxing trilogies of my lifetime?
Barrera-Morales tops my list. Gatti-Ward and Holyfield-Bowe were legendary, and Pacquiao-Morales was electric, even with the one-sided finale. Casamayor-Corrales is overlooked, I feel, in comparison to the others.
And now we have Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, the most super of the super bantamweights.
You can't do any better than their first two fights, but if there are two fighters that could, it's Vazquez and Marquez. During their first bout last March, Showtime color commentator Al Bernstein said that the two were tailor-made for one another. He was right. And many of us knew it going in.
It was a fight that, on paper, couldn't fail. And not only didn't it fail, it surpassed expectations. And then? The rematch in August was even better.
Can their third fight be the best yet? As much as it would be unwise to expect them to top last August, they've earned those expectations.
Simply put, these two cannot give you a bad fight. The only question about a knockout is when it will happen, and which side it goes to. There will be no decision. It's not possible for these guys to go 12 rounds with each other.
Vazquez and Marquez, like the warriors before them, are not fighters that are going to be boxing at the top level for a whole lot longer. Morales retired in August a month shy of his 31st birthday. Barrera decided to hang them up in October at age 33.
Vazquez is 30 years old and has been through more grueling wars than just the Marquez fights. And Rafael is 32.
But whether or not they stay much longer as two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport is not the point right now. The point is that these two men have given boxing and its fans a gift with their fights. They deserve a hot crowd at the Home Depot Center tonight, and they deserve for everyone with even a slight interest in the sport to tune in and watch them perform against each other one more time.
At 1-1, the tie will be broken. Will Vazquez's left hooks end the story, or will it be the combination punching of Marquez? Frankly, I have no idea. And I don't care who wins. I'm in awe when I watch these two fight, and I'm looking forward to seeing them go at it one more time.
9pm eastern on Showtime. We'll be here with round-by-round coverage and scoring, though the scorecards won't matter. This one will end before the final bell sounds -- that's a guarantee.