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The story and non-controversy of Vazquez-Marquez III

Photo © Mark J. Terrill / AP

There was good, bad and some ugly that came out of last night's remarkable conclusion of the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez trilogy, arguably the best of their three incredible fights, won by Vazquez via split decision thanks to a seek-and-destroy 12th round effort that gave him the official scorecard of Dr. Jim Jen Kim.

Let's talk about the ugly first.

There should be no controversy about this. Marquez was warned repeatedly for low blows, and landed a couple or three that referee Pat Russell didn't even catch. Whether or not the offending blow that got a point taken away from Marquez was actually low is almost irrelevant. Marquez could have justly had a point taken away prior to that, or after.

Secondly, promoter Gary Shaw needs to learn when to pick his fights. He has recently gotten under the skin of Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, accusing the promotional company of trying to upstage Vazquez-Marquez by holding a press conference for Oscar de la Hoya's bout with Steve Forbes this week, a fight that will also be taking place at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.

It's an unwritten rule that you don't upstage other major fights in the same region, but Golden Boy contends that that was not at all their intent. After all, they help promote Vazquez. The Golden Boy press conference spoke at length about the great fight coming this weekend, and tickets for Oscar's return bout don't even go on sale until this coming Tuesday.

Yet, Shaw really had at it about that one. Schaefer sniped back. I'm not that into tabloid stuff, but that was the first of Shaw's missteps this week. (For the record, the Home Depot Center was filled and rocking for Vazquez-Marquez.)

After the fight, and following Rafael Marquez's complaints that (1) no point should have been taken away and (2) he wasn't knocked down in the 12th (which he most definitely was), Shaw says he will protest Russell's calls, hoping to get the result overturned.

Jesus Christ, Gary. You just had a hand in putting on three of the best fights the public can ever hope to see, including this stone cold classic, and you want to overturn the decision? For one thing, the calls were just. Any protest will go nowhere. You cannot be held up by the ropes while you're falling. That was the case for the 12th round knockdown of Marquez, which ultimately won Vazquez the fight. And how many low blows was Marquez supposed to land before he got a point taken away?

For Gary Shaw to taint what we saw by complaining about non-wrongdoings is selfish and stupid. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and this won't become a real issue, because it isn't one to begin with.

As I said before, Pat Russell did a great job in this fight, and should be commended. A lot of other referees would have stopped the fight sometime during that 12th round. Marquez was taking shot after shot after shot, wobbling around the ring, fleeing for his life. Vazquez was a bulldozer that round, and even when stung by Marquez, he barely even flinched. The knockdown was legit, and that round could have easily been scored 10-8 even without it. Vazquez was all over him.

The bad? There's not much, but this talk of a fourth fight is too much for me. I've officially decided that. Yeah, LaMotta and Robinson fought six times, but this is a different age. There are a lot of other challenges out there for both men. As great as the fights were, do we need to see another one? The physical toll this has taken on both men and their careers will be felt in the future.

As Showtime's Al Bernstein said, it's a rivalry where few are going to recall that Vazquez emerged the winner. Not that he doesn't deserve all the respect in the world for beating Marquez two of three times, but when you talk about Vazquez-Marquez, you're talking about both fighters contributing to their great fights.

That will never change. This isn't about Israel Vazquez or Rafael Marquez. It's about both of them and the history they made with these three fights.

The good is obvious, isn't it? This trilogy was just off the charts, each fighter better than the last one, in my view. I don't even really have the words to describe how significant their series really was.

Congratulations to both men. Where they go from here isn't at all clear, though Vazquez has said he wouldn't mind moving to to 126, or unifying titles at 122. We'll have to wait and see. For now, just bask in the glow that comes from seeing another truly special fight. They raised the bar, again.

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