It’s been quite a year for Super bantamweight champion Israel “Magnifico” Vazquez.
After winning the rubber match against Rafael Marquez in one of boxing’s most beloved trilogies and what’s considered to be one of the fights of 2008, Vazquez’s popularity soared. Now more than ever, people recognize him and usually ask for his autograph or a picture. “It’s so different. I’m still not used to it,” Vazquez said from his home in Los Angeles. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed about but to actually have it happen is unbelievable.”
It took a lot of work, pain and self belief to get to this point. He had to go to war against a powerful and merciless opponent like Oscar Larios three times. He also chopped down the highly regarded champion Jhonny Gonzalez in a late rally after being knocked down twice and lagging behind on all cards. In addition, he went to war another three times against one of boxing’s most ferocious punchers in Rafael Marquez who he defeated twice in fights that will forever be remembered.
After almost a decade as a professional fighter, the accolades finally came. He was honored with recognition from publications like “The Ring” to “Hispanic” magazine. His popularity grew even larger after The Showtime Network released a documentary on his three fight series with Marquez. He also served as a special commentator for the Telemundo network during the Olympics and appeared on Telefutura’s boxing show “Solo Boxeo”, where he helped call the action along with Bernardo Osuna and Ricardo Celis. “A part of me really wants to be a ringside commentator. I really enjoyed the experience,” Vazquez said. “It’s something I want to do after I retire.”
But the road to the top took a physical toll. He’s been recovering from a detached retina he suffered against Marquez for most of 2008. Manager Frank Espinoza has been keeping watch over his charge, making sure he regains his health. “It’s been a slow process. The doctor says he might be ready to fight again in a few months but we’re not sure right now,” he said. “Israel’s health is what’s important here. We would never let him get back in the ring unless he was a hundred percent ready.”
Vazquez looks forward to 2009 when a fourth match against Marquez could materialize. In the meantime, Marquez is reportedly keeping himself busy as he prepares for a possible match against WBA champion Celestino Caballero. Although he’d love a fourth go at Marquez, Vazquez is content to sit back and heal properly while other fighters keep calling him out. “Juan Manuel Lopez, Jorge Arce and Vic Darchinyan have all mentioned my name. The list is long,” Vazquez said. “It’s normal that people want to topple the guy at the top. Everyone wants what I have and I have to fight to keep it.”
Although his promotional contract with Sycuan Ringside expires this coming June, Vazquez says he has no plans to move on to another promotional company at the moment. “There are a lot of important and exciting fights to be made in the future,” Vazquez said. “I still have a lot of goals to accomplish. I want to win the featherweight and super featherweight titles.”
After he’s cleared by his physician, Vazquez is assuring the fans that he’ll continue giving them the thrills he’s been providing for years. “Whether it’s against Marquez or Marco Antonio Barrera or Darchinyan. I want to get back in the ring against the best. Especially against Barrera who’s my idol. If I could have any fight, that’s the one I want. That would be truly a big fight for me,” Vazquez said. “I plan for 2009 to be another amazing year. I want this coming year to be even better then the last.”
Finally, the champ sends warm wishes to the fans. “I want all the readers to have a Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2009. I always appreciate their support. They make our business possible,” Vazquez said. “Without the fans we’re nothing and I feel humbled every time someone asks me for an autograph or a picture. I want them to know that they can always count on me to say yes and they can always count on me to give them exciting performances in the ring. My family, my friends, the sport and the fans are what I live for and to them I’m forever grateful.”
For more on Israel Vazquez go to: www.espinozaboxingclub.com
To vote for Israel Vazquez as the Showtime Network’s fighter of the year go to: http://sports.sho.com/boxing/best-of-2008/fighter.html