(Rafael Marquez v. Human Fountain, Saturday; Photo credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
What you see above is the gaping wound in Israel Vazquez’ face spurting blood like it came from a slit throat, a wound so horrific that some have already ranked it amongst the most graphic cuts in boxing ever. When you can more or less see a boxer’s bone yourself from the comfort of your home — and there are more graphic photos available, like here and in the next link; the above choice shows some serious discretion — then yeah, it’s pretty bad.
Izzy’s future is obviously one of the subjects up for discussion in this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts, as the headline would suggest, along with a discussion of some bad habits at Showtime, one of the weirdest referee intros in forever, the fight for the honor to battle David Haye and more.
- Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez V? No. Nobody wants it because Vazquez is done as a fighter, whether he knows it or not. Marquez promoter Gary Shaw was amongst those smiling inappropriately and holding up their fingers in the “five” formation following the conclusion of the fourth fight between these two featherweights, but he later wisely reconsidered and said he didn’t want installment #5. I’m bothered that #4 happened, still. Reasonable people made the case that these two deserved a shot to make one more big payday against each other, but all the evidence was there that Vazquez was done for anybody who could use their eyes. Vazquez’ right eye was sideways, and his inability to knock out a blown-up journeyman with a shaky chin in Angel Antonio Priolo should have been enough. Now — and I don’t know why we’re only learning this afterward, because I don’t remember reading it beforehand; were reporters sitting on this information for some reason, or did Vazquez’ team not disclose it? — numerous outlets have reported that Vazquez had to wear a face mask during sparring to prevent cuts. Maybe this happens more than I realize, but I’ve been writing about boxing for years and following it for longer and I’ve never heard of such precautions being taken. Vazquez-Marquez I-III elevated the sport and dignified it. Nothing can change that. But Vazquez-Marquez IV diminished the sport and demeaned it. Not a lot. But some.
- Next for Marquez. There’s the idea of Marquez fighting Vic Darchinyan, which is fine and probably would do nice business in Cali but doesn’t enthuse me too much, and some have brought up the idea of him fighting the likes of Elio Rojas, who holds a title and is young but isn’t thought to be the young class of the division like Yuriorkis Gamboa or Juan Manuel Lopez. Me personally, the fight I’m liking for Marquez is Chris John. As an unabashed Marquez bros. fan, I’d love to see Rafael try to avenge the debatable loss Juan Manuel suffered to John years ago. John isn’t some megapuncher, so it’d give us a sense how much Marquez had left without subjecting him to terrible punishment.
- Vazquez’ legacy. Until Vazquez really retires, I’ll save the authoritative career retrospective, but here’s the short version. He really was one of the top action fighters of the last decade or so, ranking up there with Arturo Gatti, albeit behind him in my books. He was in two Fights of the Year (Marquez II and Marquez III) and three others that were no worse than honorable mentions (Oscar Larios II, Jhonny Gonzalez, Marquez I). But don’t forget that he was also one of the best fighters of the decade; I didn’t include him on my top 10 list, but he was one of the fighters I gave strong consideration to including. It’s not that he was untalented or unskilled, but amongst top fighters of the last decade, he may have been the least talented and least skilled. He was a brawler who could box some, and he obviously had considerable punching power, but most of what he got done he got done with pure heart. I’ll save the rest for later.
- Next for Abner Mares and Yonnhy Perez. Both sides say they would do a rematch of this bantamweight slugfest, one of the best fights of 2010 so far — although admittedly there have been no real convincing “Oh that’s the Fight of the Year right there buddy” moments yet this year. OK. Is there anyone else who doesn’t want a rematch? I don’t know who they are or where they live or why they’re so wrong. It was interesting the number of boxing writers who had it for Mares, as I did. Following the results on Twitter at the party I was at, I got the impression most of the fans out there thought Perez deserved the win. Unlike some other boxing writers, I wouldn’t have thought it a bad decision if Perez had won, although on the color scale, “Mares win to draw” is a more defensible outcome than “Perez win.”
- Showtime’s bad habit and a new toy. The last couple weeks on Showtime, the broadcasters have collectively used the word “champion” 2.5 billion times to describe junior middleweight Sergiy Dzinziruk and then Perez, and they spent a bit too much time focusing on the WBC “silver” belt that was made available to Vazquez and Marquez. I get it that some people out there care who’s got one of the eight to 12 “championship” belts available via the alphabet sanctioning organizations per division, even though I only care about the true lineal championship, but really, Showtime has gone above and beyond merely pointing out who has what belt and decided to really beat into the ground that someone’s the “champion” when he’s merely “a” beltholder, because champion by definition means “first place.” So if Showtime can’t get with the program like HBO and at least make a point of describing who the real champion is, and instead wants to talk about the alphabet belts, do it once and then move on. Don’t keep saying, “the champion is putting on a show” or “the challenger really needs to take it to the champion” and perpetuate bad ideas like that. But hey, they got punch stat numbers at Showtime finally! I think they instituted it last time around, but this time I noticed it more. That’s good news. Sometimes the punch stat numbers are misleading, sure, but often they’re extremely informative.
- Friday Night Fights main event and undercard. Lightweight Ji-Hoon Kim and junior welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov entertained me on ESPN2 Friday but I’d hesitate to say they impressed me. Both are really fun TV fighters, coming straight ahead with no defense and trying to bang out their opponent with haste. On the other hand, both are really fun TV fighters who come straight ahead with no defense and try to bang out their opponent with haste. I say keep putting them on TV and stepping them up step by step, recognizing that you’ll find their limit at some point unless they suddenly learn D — but the journey will provide some excitement. Alternately, put them in against each other. Why has no one suggested this yet? As for their opponents, Kim did have some rocky moments in the 1st with Ameth Diaz before finishing him off with that borderline legal punch (I thought it was legal) to the back of Diaz’ ear. Huge kudos to Teddy Atlas — who I criticize a fair amount — for recognizing early that Diaz too often ducks his head to the right, because that’s exactly how Kim finished him off. Provodnikov’s opponent was the cult legend Emmanuel Augustus, and I’d previously expressed my disdain for bringing him in as the replacement foe because he’s past his prime. Augustus held up better than I expected and won a round on my card, even, but he’s getting old and it won’t be much longer until “The Drunken Master” is endangering his health, as the beating he took in the 9th round before it was called off showed. The highlight of that fight was beforehand, when the referee made the sign of the cross and said something about the father, the son and the Holy Ghost before telling the fighters to go back to their corner and prepare to beat each other up.
- Ramsey Luna vs. Rene Luna. I can’t say I always stick around on FNF to watch the swing TV bouts after the main event wraps up, but I’ve never been gladder I did than when I happened to catch the pro debuts of two junior welterweights named Luna doing insane battle. Ramsey was 18 and Rene was 20. Here’s what the fight wasn’t: a show of dazzling technique. Here’s what the fight was: everything else you could want. It was a slugfest where both men cocked back as far as they could with one hand, then after they threw that power punch, did the same with the next hand. Each landed tons of flush power shots, with the punch stats coming close to averaging 100 punches thrown per round each. Ramsey scored a 1st round knockdown and was the decision winner and superior talent, but Rene never backed down, not once, no matter how ill-advised it was, and Ramsey didn’t either. No fight of this skill level or significance could ever be a candidate for Fight of the Year in my book, but I’ll mention it in December because it was that good and that fun — four rounds of surprising, unadulterated zeal for combat between two men who’d never stepped into the ring as pros before. What a find.
- Ruslan Chagaev vs. Kali Meehan. Chagaev won an easy, pedestrian decision over Meehan to become David Haye’s mandatory challenger, and given the stalled negotiations with Wladimir Klitschko, Haye-Chagaev figures as a fight we might see in the near future. If you missed Chagaev-Meehan, no need to go hunt it down. The Klitchkos don’t have a copyright on boring heavyweight fights. Chagaev was the more skilled man, plain and simple. I don’t think he figures as much of a threat to Haye, because I don’t think he hits hard enough, but maybe Haye-Chagaev gives us a point of comparison for how Haye and Klitschko would fare against common foes. As for the rest of the weekend’s results, I refer you to ESPN’s rundown. (It also doubles as an original source for some of the facts in this post.)
- TQBR Prediction Game 2.0 update. The Mares-Perez draw robbed everyone the chance at some points, especially those like me who went with Mares, dammit. Fourteen people went with Mares to 21 for Perez, so no points for anyone with that one. The lack of points there puts greater importance on the two fights on HBO June 5, because they’ll conclude this round of the Prediction Game. With 1200 maximum points available, 13 people still can win it all, theoretically, but in reality for some of those people it would take a bunch of people above them picking both fights incorrectly. But forget about two weeks from now; the hero of this weekend was Geordie Dancer aka Andrew Harrison, who predicted the earliest knockout for Marquez — the 4th round, one round late. Eight people went with Vazquez overall, mostly on a lark. See a tabulation error? Let me know, and I’ll adjudicate.
David Schraub: 4700
Doug Fischer’s Ponytail (ALEXMAC): 4500
PI Joe (Irvin Ryan): 4050
PJ Prediction King (PJ): 4000
Manila Ice (JB): 3850
Arthur Billette: 3850
Drederick Tatum (Scott Kraus): 3350
Team Tell Me I’m The Greatest (me): 3350
D.C. Senators (edub): 3300
Geordie Dancer (Andrew Harrison): 3250
Team Great Santini (willfrank): 2900
Hit Dog: 2800
Southern Comfort (Dobbler): 2800
Paul Kelly: 2750
ShortFuse (RoWyN): 2750
the legend: 2750
team individuality: 2400
Malignant Narcissism (Eric Naff): 2350
The Weasel (Funky Badger): 2300
Ben Olson: 2000
Not Sure (Jay Ari Yin): 1750
Team Fingermonkey (ScottB): 1700
The Queensberry Fools (Eugene Dammrod): 1700
Pretty Toney: 1200
I likea da predictions (morelandj): 1200
queensberry wench: 1050
Jordan Adair: 500
College Wolf: 500
Fish Hook Combo (FlorencioR): 0
Burbank Baker: 0
Donkey Puncher (Brian.McNeeley): 0