Following three epic battles, three-time World Champion Israel Vazquez and two-division World Champion Rafael Marquez will face off in the fourth installment of what is perhaps the greatest boxing trilogy of all-time on Saturday, May 22, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, live on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). In the co-feature, Yonnhy Perez will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) Bantamweight World Title against unbeaten top contender Abner Mares. The historic SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader is co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Gary Shaw Productions, Espinoza Boxing Promotions and Zanfer Promotions and sponsored by Cerveza Tecate.
Tickets, priced at $250, $125, $75, $50 and $25 will be available starting Friday, March 19 at 10:00 a.m. PT online at ticketmaster.com, via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone lines at (800)745-3000. Tickets will also be available starting Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. PT at the STAPLES Center Box Office.
Photos: Big Joe Miranda
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“Without a doubt, this is going to be a war just like the previous fights were,” said Vazquez. “I’m really motivated to come back for this battle with Marquez and I know this fourth fight is going to be very significant to my career. I hope all the fans are as excited as I am for this fight and as excited as they were for the previous three, as the fourth will no different than the others.”
Marquez commented, “Israel Vazquez and I are destined to be intertwined together because of the legendary battles we have waged against each other, but I intend to close the book on our rivalry by dictating the final chapter — and the fight — on May 22 at STAPLES Center. I have never wanted to win a fight so much in my life. I’m training to win. I’m fighting for my legacy.”
Oscar de la Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions and Vazquez’s Co-Promoter said, “May 22 is more than a fight, it is for pride, honor and respect of the boxing world and we are excited to be able to deliver the fourth fight following one of the best trilogies in boxing history. This type of fight reminds us of the great events from the 70′s at the Olympic Auditorium and the Forum, featuring two great Mexican warriors who leave it all in the ring. In addition, we are going to have one of our top young contenders in Abner Mares competing for a world title on the same night. This is a classic night of boxing that you will not want to miss and that you will never forget.”
Gary Shaw, President of Gary Shaw Productions and Marquez’s Promoter, “There has been no greater privilege for me than to have promoted Corrales-Castillo I and the Vazquez-Marquez series. At the end of the day, boxing and boxing fans are the winners. Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez are two of the greatest warriors ever. They are the stuff Hollywood movies are made from.”
Frankie Espinoza of Espinoza Boxing Promotions added, “Vazquez and Marquez are the two most exciting and courageous fighters in the sport. Along with the championship battle between Abner Mares and Yonnhy Perez, May 22 is going to be a special night for fight fans. We at Espinoza Boxing Promotions feel honored to be part of such an amazing event.”
Fernando Beltran, President, Zanfer Promotions, “I am very excited to be back working with Rafael Marquez. He won his first world title with our company Zanfer. For this fight, we are with Gary Shaw and looking forward to a fourth and final match to put to rest who is the real champion.”
Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports said, “Vazquez-Marquez IV is a fight we couldn’t say no to. The rivalry between these two warriors is rooted in the deep respect they have for one another. We knew from the first time they faced off against each other that their fights would deliver the highest quality boxing and fans should expect nothing less May 22. We are honored to have them back on SHOWTIME. Fighters like Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez represent the best boxing has to offer: amazing competitors putting it all on the line in the name of sport.”
Lee Zeidman, STAPLES Center General Manager commented, “STAPLES Center is incredibly excited to host the fourth bout between these two decorated fighters in Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez. Southern California boxing fans are in for night that they won’t soon forget and we are excited about hosting this fight here in downtown Los Angeles on May 22.”
The Vazquez-Marquez trilogy is perhaps the most complete and closely contested all-action series of fights in boxing history. “El Magnifico” Vazquez (44-4, 33 KO’s) of Huntington Park, Calif., by way of Mexico City, leads Mexico City’s Marquez (38-5, 34 KO’s) in the epic series, 2-1, winning the last two.
In their first meeting on March 3, 2007, Marquez broke Vazquez’s nose in the first round, but the fight carried on and the two continued to exchange accurate and powerful shots. Vazquez could barely breathe through his broken nose and after seven hard fought and electrifying rounds, Vazquez asked trainer Freddie Roach to stop the fight, losing his WBC Super Bantamweight World Title in the process.
In their second fight on Aug. 4, 2007, Vazquez stopped Marquez in a rematch to regain the WBC Super Bantamweight World Title at 1:16 of the sixth round in an old-style, classic, bloody slugfest. The bout was touted as Fight of the Year and contained Round of the Year as awarded by boxing’s leading experts.
The two Mexican fighters squared off for the third time on March 1, 2008 in an epic 12-round, all-action battle that might have been the most compelling of them all. Vazquez eked out a thrilling, split-decision victory by just one point, scoring a fight-winning knockdown in the waning seconds of the twelfth round, successfully defending the WBC and Ring Magazine Super Bantamweight World Titles in an instant classic.
Vazquez and Marquez each took more than a year long sabbatical from boxing to recover from injuries and regroup after the thrilling trilogy.
Marquez returned to the ring on May 23, 2009, getting back to his winning ways with a third round KO victory over Jose Francisco Mendoza in his first fight at 126 pounds. Vazquez returned on Oct. 10, 2009, also at featherweight, against Angel Antonio Priolo registering a ninth-round TKO.
Boxing fans craved a fourth fight between the two fearless warriors and while they have both moved up in weight (this bout to be contested at featherweight, 126-pounds) and have tried to continue with their storied careers, destiny pulled them back together one more time.
Undefeated Yonnhy Perez (20-0, 14 KO’s) of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., by way of Colombia, is coming off an upset 12-round unanimous decision over defending champion Joseph King Kong Agbeko to capture the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Bantamweight World Title on Oct. 31, 2009 on SHOWTIME.
“We will give the fans a great fight,” said Perez. “I know Abner well, he is a very good friend of mine who I have known since the amateurs, but I don’t even let my best friends touch my championship belt. I worked too hard and too long to get it. Mares will not be able to take it away from me, no way.”
“This fight could very well steal the show,” said Ken Thompson, Perez’s co-promoter with Shaw. “These are two great bantamweights, two all-action boxers with lots of power, but there is only one champion and I’m confident Yonnhy will remain undefeated and will be able to successfully defend his title in a great battle.”
A top-contender at 118 pounds Mares (19-0, 12 KO’s), of Montebello, Calif. by way of Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, is ranked in the top five by the WBO, WBA and IBF. The 24-year-old has won three of his last four fights by knockout and is fresh off of a sixth round knockout over Carlos Fulgencio in his last fight on Aug. 27, 2009. He is looking to earn his first world title on May 22.
“I’ve known Yonnhy for a long time and we are friends outside of the ring, but come May 22 that will all change when I will get down to business,” said Mares. “All the fans should look forward to the next Mexican World Champion because on May 22, I will become the next champion. He is a great fighter, and I’m not taking this fight lightly, so I’ll be ready to take his belt that night.”
A stacked lineup of exciting undercard bouts will be announced shortly.