Toshiaki Nishioka edged Rafael Marquez by unanimous decision in Las Vegas tonight, in a junior featherweight bout that began tepidly but finished boiling hot. TQBR had the hard to score fight a draw, but there were a whole lot of close rounds in there.
The fight began with a lengthy feeling out process, with both men pumping their jabs and working in the occasional cross. During these rounds, Nishioka (39-4-3) landed the more eye catching single shots, but the consistent jab of Marquez (40-7) kept his head popping back and forth.
Things only began to heat up in the eighth when, after landing a booming left, Nishioka accidentally drove his head into that of Marquez. The man from Japan came off the worse, with blood streaming down his face from a cut above his right ear.
Both men seemed energised at the sight of claret flowing, with Marquez throwing combinations and Nishioka answering with hard counters. One particularly hard left had Nishioka take the round in TQBR’s book and had Rafa making that determined face both he and his brother Juan Manuel make when hurt, pulling his upper lip over his teeth.
Nishioka undoubtedly finished stronger down the stretch. For several rounds it appeared he couldn’t miss with his straight left hand and he began to dial in his right hook behind it as well. Marquez never stopped throwing punches though, and the both men went into the last round looking exhausted but determined. In a sizzling final stanza, the judges had to choose between Nishioka’s accuracy and the simultaneously loose looking but targeted offence that makes the Marquez bros so awesome to watch. TQBR had the ultimate round even.
In the end, Nishioka won with scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 and will likely go on to face Nonito Donaire, who was at ringside. Marquez has nothing to be ashamed of and nothing left to prove, and could easily ride off into the sunset and leave fight fans with many happy memories. That seems sadly unlikely however. “The truth is I was robbed. Five points? What is that? The truth is I won that fight,” he insisted after the bout.