Lee Groves

10: Greatest 122-pound title fights

4. Israel Vazquez KO 6 Rafael Marquez II – August 4, 2007, Dodge Arena, Hidalgo, Texas

Just five months after the original Vazquez and Marquez met again in the hopes of duplicating, if not surpassing, what they did at the Home Depot Center.

Mission accomplished. After all, once the dust settled, Vazquez-Marquez II was deemed THE RING’s Fight of the Year.

The two men picked up where they left off in fight one as they engaged in a technical trench war. Any debate concerning the soundness of Vazquez’s surgically repaired nose were answered instantly as Vazquez smiled and nodded after taking a flush shot, then won an exchange of hooks that caused Marquez to stagger backward. The tenor of the fight grew more intense in round two as they indulged in far more toe-to-toe slugging than in fight one, a development that favored the shorter, more compactly built Vazquez. Another Vazquez improvement was his ability to jab his way inside, off which he occasionally landed solid hooks. The punishment already produced marks on both men — swelling around both Marquez eyes and a small cut on the bridge of Vazquez’s nose.

A Vazquez hook early in round three sent jolts of electricity through Marquez’s wavering body, but the defending titlist recovered enough to land his own hurtful hook moments later. The all-out slugging continued throughout the round and their facial tissues couldn’t stand up to the stress. Marquez opened cuts around both Vazquez eyes while Vazquez created a slice under Marquez’s right orb. Given the tremendous action, it was no surprise that round three was subsequently voted THE RING’s Round of the Year.

The savage exchanges continued in the fourth but a late Marquez surge enabled him to snatch the round away. The vengeful Vazquez imposed his strength in round five but the cuts around both eyes worsened markedly, particularly the left eye that had now become a trench.

A searing hook to the body, a right uppercut to the chin and a clean-up hook to the jaw floored Marquez early in round six. After Marquez arose at two Vazquez decided the time had come to end the fight and he launched a withering, non-stop assault. When Marquez’s retreating body stiffened ever so slightly and the animation drained from his face, referee Jose Guadalupe Garcia jumped between the fighters and stopped the contest.

Less than a minute after Garcia ended fight two, the question on many lips was “trilogy anyone?” Happily, the answer was yes.

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