The return of your weekly random thoughts blog …
• I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen when gallant warriors Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez meet for the fourth and final chapter of their incredible rivalry on Showtime on Saturday night (9 ET/PT) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but I am pretty sure the fight will be another violent slugfest for however long it lasts. After the three epic wars they've already produced, how can No. 4 not be exciting? These guys were made for each other.
Their second fight, in 2007, and their third fight, in 2008, were both named fight of the year. The first fight also was a strong candidate, but it was an honorable mention because it took place in the same year as the rematch. It has been that kind of amazing rivalry, one in which each successive bout was better than the previous one.
It's unfair to expect the fourth fight to live up to the billing of the previous three, especially after each man took a long layoff before returning for tune-up fights in which they didn't look all that good. Vazquez also dealt with multiple eye surgeries. But I believe these guys will do as they always do and leave everything they have in the ring, even if they don't have much left.
If you have missed any of their previous bouts -- and shame on you if you have -- or just want a chance to watch them again or record them to save for future viewing pleasure, make sure you don't miss the remaining Showtime replays, plus an update to the documentary "Vazquez-Marquez: The Trilogy."
The two-hour documentary originally aired after their third fight. It explores their rivalry, breaks down all three bouts and replays the entire third fight with analysis from the fighters, their managers and trainers, and reporters and industry experts.
Vazquez-Marquez II will be replayed Wednesday at 10 ET/PT (Sho2), Vazquez-Marquez III will air on Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT (Sho2) and you can watch the documentary at 4 p.m. ET/PT on Saturday. Enjoy.
• Can we get Michael Katsidis back on American television, please? He looked great destroying Kevin Mitchell in defense of his interim lightweight belt last Saturday in England, and he's never in a bad fight. Even Katsidis' back-to-back losses to Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz, which were on HBO, were outstanding fights. Golden Boy works with the Australian brawler and needs to do everything it can to get him back in America and on the tube.
• The highlight of my month -- other than getting the last-second upgrade when I flew home from Las Vegas after the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley fight -- was when Mayweather refused to fight for the WBA welterweight title when he faced Mosley, thereby denying those bloodsuckers a sanctioning fee. I was equally overjoyed when Mayweather told the WBC to stuff it because he wasn't interested in paying $45,000 for the stupid and meaningless diamond belt.
• I didn't like seeing Kermit Cintron lose to Paul Williams the way he did -- falling out of the ring and having the fight stopped by the doctor, with Williams "winning" a technical decision. But sometimes what goes around comes around and things even out in the end. Last year, Cintron received the ultimate gift draw against Sergio Martinez, who knocked out Cintron at the end of the seventh round when referee Frank Santore reached 10 and waived his hands. But then Santore called off the knockout and insanely let the fight continue. Then came another horrible call when the fight was ruled a draw instead of a clear decision for Martinez. Now Cintron has the loss on his record that he deserved that night. I still don't love the ending of the Williams-Cintron fight, but isn't it sort of poetic justice?
• I was impressed with junior middleweight titlist Sergei Dzinziruk in his American debut. He looked very sharp beating down Daniel Dawson for 10 rounds, especially considering he hadn't fought for 18 months. He'll give anyone at 154 trouble -- and that includes Martinez and Williams.
• Now that Marco Antonio Barrera plans to continue his career by appearing on Top Rank's "Latin Fury 15" pay-per-view card on June 26 and rival Erik Morales plans to fight in July (his second bout since ending a two-year-plus retirement), will it surprise anyone if we eventually see Barrera-Morales IV?
• The other day, I was thinking about some dream fights I would have liked to see. Four that I would have really loved: Muhammad Ali-Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson-Sugar Ray Leonard (at welterweight), Roberto Duran-Julio Cesar Chavez (at lightweight) and Manny Pacquiao-Henry Armstrong (at featherweight, lightweight or welterweight).
• I think this is a first in the 10 years I've been picking prospects of the year, initially for USA Today and now for ESPN.com: three consecutive winners boxed on the same card last Saturday in New York. Amir Khan, the 2007 winner, looked sensational in routing Paulie Malignaggi; 2008 winner Victor Ortiz shut out Nate Campbell; and 2009 winner Daniel Jacobs knocked out Juan Astorga.
• Paging Zab Judah.
• Congrats to the HBO Sports crew, headed by president Ross Greenburg, for its haul in the recent Sports Emmys. HBO Sports collected nine, the most it has ever earned in one season -- and more than any other network. Five of them were boxing-related, including "Assault in the Ring," which won for outstanding sports documentary. The piece revisited the chilling story of the scandalous Luis Resto-Billy Collins fight in 1983. Other boxing-related wins were for "24/7 Mayweather/Marquez" (which got two awards for editing) and "24/7 Pacquiao/Hatton" (which also got two, for writing and camera work). One of the reasons HBO does so well, especially with "24/7," is because the tender loving care it shows when producing the show is evident to anyone paying attention. Case in point: When the April 30 series finale of "24/7 Mayweather/Mosley" was scheduled to begin an hour earlier than previous finales, the producers had an hour less to complete the episode -- which was already jammed into an incredibly tight schedule because they try to capture as much of the fight-week activities as possible. That meant there wasn't enough time to get that day's weigh-in into the episode that aired in the Eastern time zone. But the folks at HBO pay such close attention to detail that they added weigh-in footage to the episode when it aired three hours later in the Pacific time zone. That's what I call dedication.
• Congrats to HBO PPV chief Mark Taffet, who became a grandfather last week. No truth to the rumor that he tried to persuade his daughter to put the birth on pay-per-view.
• And congrats to super middleweight contender and Super Six tournament participant Andre Dirrell, who wed high school sweetheart Alai Zamora on April 24 in his hometown of Flint, Mich. No word on whether the happy couple, who have two children together, celebrated by watching that night's Super Six fight between Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch.
• DVD pick of the week: With the fourth Vazquez-Marquez fight just days away, it seemed like the perfect time to go back and see how one of boxing's all-time rivalries began. It was March 3, 2007, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., when bantamweight champ Marquez moved up in weight to challenge Mexican countryman and junior featherweight champion Vazquez. You just knew it would be a terrific fight from the moment it was signed. But this good? It was a brawl from the opening bell. Marquez sent Vazquez reeling in the third round, only to get knocked down moments later. It was pure brutality until the end of the seventh round, when Vazquez, fighting with a badly broken nose from the first round on, retired on his stool, barely able to breath. And to think -- this was only the start of what was to come, as the rematch five months later wound up being the fight of the year.