Saturday, August 4, 2007

Sweet, Bloody, Violent Revenge

Photos by Chris Cozzone

Quite possibly, the fight of the year--which also features the round of the year--ended the way all ebb and flows fights end: in a stoppage.

Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez did something rare to a great original: They superceded it with an even more spectacular sequel. The action was fast and furious from the opening bell with both men trading power shots toward each other's faces with Marquez going to the body with greater efficiency.

The first two rounds featured both fighters punching with bone crunching intentions though neither fighter looked the worse for wear. That all changed in the hellacious third round.

Round three, a round of the year, consisted with action from the first two rounds--hard, straight jabs, digging hooks to the body, jolting uppercuts, and heavy hooks to the chin/jaw/face--on an even more frenetic level. Both fighters were stunned, Marquez more so by a left hook, and both fighters were cut, Vasquez more so with a cut over each eye.

The action died down very slightly--at least compared to this fight--until the sixth round. That's when a left hook, the same potent punch in the first fight, by Vasquez dropped Marquez hard onto the mat. Not wanting for history to repeat itself in the same regard as the the first fight, Vasquez would not release his stunned opponent and threw punches until referee Guadalupe Garcia (of Oliver McCall-Lennox Lewis fame) stopped the fight when a jab sent an already hurt Marquez stumbling backwards.

Vasquez, bloody and bruised, let out a vociferous, triumphant roar while leaping in the air in a state of nirvana. Marquez, though a gacious warriro, refused to accept the loss citing it a quick stoppage. In the end both men said they wanted a third fight.

What dreams will come from that one?

Next up: The Shogun of South America

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Middle Man, Front and Center!

(Photo by Ed Mulholland via

The drums have already started beating for what may be one of the best matches in combat sports today. Undisputed middleweight champion Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor will defend his titles against consensus #1 contender Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik. This is a must fight for both fighters, the sport of boxing, and the fans.

Taylor first came into boxing prominence after a trio of very close, could-go-either-way-type championship bouts versus Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins and Ronald "Winky" Wright. Since those fights, what should have been a coronation of his middleweight conquest, has now become a snide question mark due to his last two performances against undersized foes: Kassim "The Dream" Ouma and Cory Spinks, Jr.

Pavlik, on the other fist, has been on a tear against a contender his own weight with an equally as ferocious a puncher. And he did it in a much more exciting fashion that Taylor's last five fights have been. This feat alone does not mean a victory on Septermber 29, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, and will be televised on HBO World Championship Boxing, thankfully no PPV.

As far as stats go Pavlik is the taller of the two at 6'2 1/2" while Taylor stands at 6'1". A native of Youngstown, OH, Pavlik is also younger by three years at 25 years of age. Each undefeated fighter has fought at middleweight or close to it their entire professional careers.

Taylor, the franchise of Little Rock, AR, has the better pedigree as far as boxing experience goes. From winning a bronze medal at the 2000 U.S. Olympics to dethroning a certified boxing legend in Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, Taylor's boxing resume far exceeds all Pavlik has done ... so far.

As far as styles go, Pavlik appears to have the advantage. When he wants to, he can use his great height and reach to outbox and punish foes with heavy hands. Taylor,on the other hand, has been fairly predictable, though still unbeatable, with his jab, jab, straight right hand style. His footwork is reminiscent of a duck sliding across at your local carnival's shooting gallery. Pavlik showed great adjustment--and a great chin--in choosing to brawl on the inside with the supposed harder hitter, Edison "Pantera" Miranda, and come away with a jaw dropping ko.

Reading the above paragraph should spell a tactical, hard fought victory for Pavlik. But, and you know there always is one in boxing, it must be noted that Taylor fought one of the craftiest infighters in B-Hop and one of the better defensive boxers in Winky and was competitive against both. The main difference is that Pavlik hits harder than both of them and keeps his aggressive stamina late into fights.

My fearless prediction (based on my last predictions, play strictly with funny money): Pavlik wins a fairly comfortable decision after being tested by Jermain.

Fitness Jiu Jitsu