It’s feast or famine with the upcoming TV banquet.
The question becomes whether you eat the icing on the cupcake first (in case someone takes it away before you’re finished) or save the best for last. No one takes my cupcakes, so I’m going to save the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez fight for last in this meal of dueling dates again on HBO and Showtime.
Before we gulp down the rest of the TV fare set for March 3, let me issue the usual warning to those fans not wanting to be told the results before watching their tapes: Watch Showtime so the mean-spirited HBO announcers don’t spoil it for you by giving the results from their rival network. In terms of pleasurable viewing, it means you have to eat the icing second, before the peas and carrots on HBO.
Showtime has by far the better show, as usual, including the can’t-miss doozy between two of the finest champions out there, Vazquez and Marquez. It opens with a showcase of Vic Darchinyan, one of those dynamite little punchers (27-0 with 21 knockouts) against former flyweight title-holder Victor Burgos of Mexico (39-14-3 with 23 KO’s).
Darchinyan, a left-handed Armenian based in Australia, should have little trouble disposing of the 32-year-old Burgos, whose best results, like the 2003 draw with Rosendo Alvarez, are ancient history. If there’s any action on this prelim from the Home Depot Center outside Los Angeles, it would be on the go-don’t go. If Darchinyan could stop the previously undefeated Irene Pacheco, he should be able to put away Burgos.
The HBO show from Puerto Rico, the network’s fealty to its new star, Miguel Cotto, does have an intriguing matchup between middleweight sluggers Edison Miranda of Colombia and Allan Green. I haven’t seen any lines on this one yet, but expect Miranda to be slightly favored on the basis of having faced better opposition.
Green has campaigned mostly as a supermiddleweight and is the bigger guy. I think Miranda is the class here. Green is probably best known for his spectacular one-round destruction of overhyped New Yorker Jaidon Codrington in 2005. The biggest names on his undefeated (23-0, 16 KO’s) dossier are Jerson Ravelo and Emmett Linton.
Miranda’s one loss, against 27 victories (24 by KO), was probably more meaningful than any of Green’s triumphs. The Panther lost a unanimous decision to Arthur Abraham for one of those 160-pound trinkets that mean little. Abraham is one of the best middleweights in the world and Miranda broke his jaw. Sooner or later, he should stop Green, probably sooner.
Cotto, who looked like one of the world’s best in moving up to welterweight and destroying the capable Carlos Quintana, has one of those "gimmees" HBO historically gives to its fighters. Oktay Urkal, who failed in two attempts to beat Vivian Harris at 140 pounds, is somehow the mandatory challenger and should not last very long. Cotto apparent victory clears the way for his already agreed-upon June 9 showdown at Madison Square Garden with Zab Judah.
So, at last, we come to the piece de resistance, the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me, the meat and potatoes as well as the icing on the cake. There are some big fights that even newspaper sports editors know must be covered - Ali-Frazier, Leonard-Hearns, de la Hoya-Mayweather. Then there are those matches that the fight writers know can’t miss. Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello springs to mind. But there were also Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, Manny Pacquiao and almost anyone else. No way they could turn into snoozefests.
Vazquez-Marquez fits this mold. Vazquez is the 122-pound king; Marquez is moving up from the bantamweight division he has dominated. Both are offensive-minded punchers. Both have shown the ability to get off the floor to win. I love this fight.
I also love Marquez, the little brother of longtime featherweight star Juan Manuel Marquez. The smaller brother, 36-3 with 32 knockouts, is 8-0 (6 TKOs) in title fights. He has beaten (yeah, KO’d) two guys in my pound-for-pound top 10 at the time Marc (Too Sharp) Johnson and the previously unbeaten Tim Austin.
At 29, Vazquez is two years younger and naturally bigger. He’s not exactly Mexican chopped liver with 36-3 record and 32 KO’s. Vazquez thinks his size will be an edge. Marquez counters with "I am strong and a great fighter, so why should I feel any disadvantage."
Vazquez figures to be a very slight favorite coming off his spectacular twice-off-the-canvas stoppage last year of Jhonny Gonzalez, another 118-pound titlist attempting to move up in weight. Jhonny doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Rafael, one of the best punchers pound for pound in the world. If Marquez knocks down Vazquez, I don’t think there will be any comebacks.