Former Bantamweight Kingpin who ruled the division with an iron fist for nearly 7 years beginning in 2001. He destroyed every fighter at 118 with fan pleasing impunity and bone crushing knockout power. Among his biggest wins are his 2 fights with future Hall Of Famer Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson and fellow future Hall Of Famer "The Cincinnati Kid" Tim Austin, whom were both k.o'd by Marquez. A feat deemed nearly impossible against this caliber of fighters.
Rafael Marquez is trained by legendary Mexican trainer Nacho Beristain which partly explains his high pedigree in the sport. Like his brother pound for pound superstar Juan Manuel Marquez, Beristain fighters are among the best schooled in the sport. He throws perfect punches from every angle with blazing speed, pinpoint accuracy and deadly power. His punches have been described as "slashing" because they often cause deep lacerations to the faces of opponents.
His most notable accomplishment in boxing has been his unforgettable trilogy with fellow Mexican badass Israel Vazquez whom Marquez moved up in weight to challenge for the 122 lb. title in March 2007 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Boxing fans knew they were in for a special night and Marquez having cleaned up the 118 lb. division came out and forced Vazquez to quit on his stool after the 7th due to a badly broken nose. The fight itself was a knock down drag out war with Marquez tasting the canvas in the 3rd round and the fans knew that a rematch was called for and a rematch would be hard pressed to be as good as the first fight.
That rematch came in August 2007 in Hidalgo Texas and proved to be an instant classic. The artistry, skill and savagery of the second fight cemented it as one of the greatest of all time and won it honors for Fight of the Year 2007 by the media. This time around Vazquez came in with superhuman determination in trying to avenge his loss. Marquez coming in a bit overconfident seemed to forget his game plan and try to decapitate Vazquez from the onset, setting the stage for one of the best brawls in the history of the sport. This style was better suited for Vazquez however and the referee jumped in at the end of the sixth to stop the fight. Many say the stoppage was premature but either way, there was now an official trilogy in the air.
The culmination of this amazing rivalry was set where it began, The Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Due to their weight, their first two bouts did not receive the deserved attention from the media. Generally speaking, sports media does not give any attention to the lighter weight fighters unless their name is Oscar De La Hoya. For this reason even though their first two fights were among the best ever in the history of boxing, only the small hardcore boxing fan base knew to watch them and box office sales were relatively poor for this caliber of fighters. Showtime who televised the trilogy went on the offensive and promoted the third fight properly and this time around the Home Depot Center was sold out, with yours truly, Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone among other stars in attendance. The air was loaded with anxious energy for the two warriors to come out. After the pageantry's ended the fighters got it on once again. To the amazement of everyone in attendance the third fight was the best of the three which seemed almost inconceivable given how good the first two were. This fight was a 12 round classic for the ages with Marquez leading on all cards going into the twelfth round, having dropped Vazquez in the fourth and outboxing him for most of the fight with punishing combinations. Not to say that Vazquez was not in the fight, far from it. Going into the twelfth round Vazquez knew he needed something big and he came storming out of his corner like a bat out of hell all over Marquez like a cheap suit following him around the ring, strafing him with power shots. Marquez tried to jab him off him and clinch at times, (one of the few moments in the whole fight there was any clinching) but Vazquez would have none of it and continued to walk him down landing power shots. If Marquez stays on his feet he wins a split decision, however with about 10 seconds remaining Vazquez lands a bomb and staggers Marquez against the ropes which hold him up constituting a knockdown and costs him an extra point. He would get up and lose a split decision by a single point!! Controversy over a low blow call in the tenth against Marquez ensued as well as the knockdown call in the final round, prompting everyone in boxing land to call for a fourth fight. Unless a better fight emerges in 2008 (highly unlikely) this fight will no doubt sweep fight of the year honors again. Much to the delight of boxing fans around the world it appears as if there will be a fourth fight sometime early next year due to the overwhelming demand by the public. If ever a pair of fighters complemented each other, its these two.
A fan friendly gentleman outside the ring, Rafael Marquez will go down as one of the greatest boxers of all time and in light of this classic rivalry with Israel Vazquez one of the most respected and beloved fighters of this era.
Boxing Fan 1: Hey man, you watching DeLaHoya/Mayweather 2?? That's gonna be soo cool...
Boxing Fan 2: Pssh, if I wanted to see a sterile, corporate transactions I'd watch CNBC.
Boxing Fan 1: You mean there's better fighters to watch?
Boxing Fan 2: Damn right and you could start with RAFAEL MARQUEZ!!