Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez
By Derek Bonnett: William Shakespeare once wrote, "Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends." Over the past year, I have spent considerable time pondering this very idea, particularly when speculating about the futures of Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez: two of boxing’s greatest contemporary warriors.
On one hand, it seemed time off was exactly what these noble combatants needed following their epic trilogy, which saw both men bloodied, dropped, and stopped. How could one continue on without rest after facing the other three times in a 12 month stretch? On the other hand, could a lengthy hiatus also serve to soften both fighters, who quite possibly took a great deal away from each other throughout their hellacious 25 rounds together, and allow them to grow comfortable and satisfied with their previous accomplishments?
Marquez, 34, understandably, needed to return to go out the victor.
Regardless of how admirably he fought against Vazquez, he lost the trilogy and a champion cannot easily go out on a defeat, especially to his greatest rival. His comeback was successful. On May 23, he dispatched Jose Francisco Mendoza in three rounds to raise his record to 38-5 (34), but he elicited mixed reviews from boxing fans.
Vazquez, although in need of a long rest, was also sidelined due to a lengthy recovery after an eye operation following his successful completion of the Marquez trilogy. The rest was due and greatly warranted, but now that Vazquez has committed himself to coming back, one has to wonder: Is he giving up the perfect platform to retire on?
Vazquez was the victor of one of the sport’s greatest trilogies. He was a world champion and Ring champion. He was ranked highly among most boxing pound for pound compilations. He was universally recognized as the best fighter in his division.
Is there a better way to be remembered?
In speaking with the great Israel Vazquez, 43-4 (31), it is clear he has a different opinion. As a world champion, he still has that drive to prove himself, and, likely, earn a little bit of the green stuff in the process. He’s already proven he’s superhuman in the past, so what’s one more super challenge?
In regards to Shakespeare’s words, only time will tell how things will end for Vazquez, but we can all be certain there will be considerable danger involved. The man lives for it.
Here is what Israel Vazquez, boxing’s thrill-a-minute champion, had to say to SecondsOut:
Derek Bonnett (DB): Israel, it’s been 15 months since you last stepped into the prize ring. In the twelve months before that, you fought Rafael Marquez three times. Has your body given you indication it is time to stop?
Israel Vazquez (IV): No, not at all. I think the time off was good for me. In some ways, I think it was a blessing in disguise. If it wasn’t for my injury, I probably would have fought right after the Marquez fight. This forced me to take a layoff and I feel great. I am just eager to get back in the ring.
DB: You’ve probably heard the talk that neither you nor Marquez will be the same after your epic trilogy. After his May 23 bout, do you think Marquez looked as though he had left something in the ring back in Carson City?
IV: I thought Marquez looked good under the circumstances. He looked a little slow and off his rhythm, but that is probably because of the time off. Marquez showed that he is still dangerous with his punch.
DB: Without any bouts scheduled at this time and a dream match with Pacquiao now out of the question, how easy would it be for you to walk away right now?
IV: For me to retire now, it would be hard. During my time off there is one thing that I have come to realize and that is how much boxing means to me. It’s a passion. It means a lot to me to compete in the ring and fight for the fans and most importantly, retire on my own terms.
DB: In your absence, Juan Manuel Lopez, Celestino Caballero, and Bernard Dunne have established themselves as the best fighters at super bantamweight. Who have you been most impressed with throughout your hiatus?
IV: All of them have been very impressive with their wins, but I think Juan Manuel Lopez has established himself the most. Hopefully we will meet in the near future.
DB: In the event that you do return to the ring, are we to expect that it will be as a 126 or 130 pounder?
IV: I will be competing at 126 lbs. I’ve been at the junior featherweight division for over 10 years. With the layoff, I think it would be wise for me to move up. Fortunately, I have kept myself in decent shape and did not blow up.
DB: What would a defeat do to you at this stage of your HOF career?
IV: I don’t think a defeat would affect me outside of motivating me more. I want to fight the best and in doing so, you have to take risks. And I’ve never been afraid to take those risks.
DB: Politics and red tape aside: Name the bout you want right now to prove your greatness is intact.
IV: I would like to fight Rafael Marquez again and Juan Manuel Lopez. I want to fight them because the fans want to see it. And if the fans are happy, then so am I. Because at the end of the day, the fans will decide if my greatness is intact.
June 7, 2009