By Miguel Maravilla
Former two-time world champion Israel “Magnifico” Vasquez (44-5, 32 KOs) of Mexico City is now retired has been enjoying life outside the ring for the last four years. Known for the classic fights against countryman Rafael Marquez that defined his career, Vasquez has continues to work in boxing as a trainer coaching young amateurs, filling in as an expert TV commentator at ringside, and attending special events as an ambassador for the sport. This past weekend Vasquez once again fulfilled his duties as an ambassador of boxing attending a charity event for cancer for the Junior Foundation Charities held at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena in Pico Rivera, California. During the event Vasquez met with popular Mexican recording artist Larry Hernandez who without permission snatched Vasquez’ WBC green belt and autographed it with a Sharpie Permanent Marker causing an uproar.
“I was there attending representing the WBC, which is why I had my belt in the first place. He asked me three times to sign it and I told him not to,” Vasquez told Fightnews.com. “We ran into each other moments later. He then grabbed my belt and signed it.”
“He then told me he is a ‘bad ass,’” Vasquez continued. “Many have asked me why didn’t I punch him or beat his ass. I was there representing the WBC as an ambassador, I am not about to get into legal issues. I am an educated and better person than that.”
“What he did was put my title to shame. I can’t explain it with words, if you as a writer get the biggest achievement award and then someone decides to write on it, that is something valuable for you,” Vasquez said.
Winning his first world title in 2004 with a TKO over Jose Luis Valbuena, Vasquez won the IBF super bantamweight title. One year later Vasquez won the WBC title with a third round TKO over Oscar Larios as he defended his title two times before losing it and regaining his WBC title from Rafael Marquez.
“I put in years of hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and sleepless nights to win that title,” Vasquez said. “I don’t think he would have liked it if I would have signed his gold/platinum record.” Vasquez stated.
Since the incident Hernandez admitted that Vasquez asked him not to sign and issued an apology on radio and TV.
“I have seen much bigger name Mexican celebrities and sports figures with my belt in hand. They have never disrespected me or acted like that,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez’ former manager Frank Espinoza spoke to WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman about the incident. The WBC announced Tuesday morning that they will be replacing Vasquez’s WBC belt and they will soon present him with a new one.
“I want to thank Mauricio, the WBC, Frank, and all the boxing world for their support,” Vasquez said.
Contact: Twitter @MigMaravilla