Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Boxing [Print without images]

Friday, March 2, 2007
Updated: March 3, 1:18 PM ET
Vazquez-Marquez title fight expected to be intense

Associated Press

CARSON, Calif. -- A couple of small fighters with big punches will go at it when Israel Vazquez defends his WBC super bantamweight crown against Rafael Marquez on Saturday (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET).

 Israel Vazquez
Vazquez

 Rafael Marquez
Marquez

Vazquez has stopped 31 opponents on his way to a 41-3 record, and Marquez has 32 knockouts while going 36-3.

"Marquez and I don't want to face each other, but we have to because we are the best," Vazquez said, speaking through an interpreter. "I expect him to come at me with everything and try to knock me out.

"Marquez will be the most dangerous fighter I've faced. I am going for the knockout in seven rounds. The only winner besides me in this fight will be the fans."

Marquez agreed that Saturday night's bout at the Home Depot Center should be a crowd-pleaser.

"Vazquez is the type of fighter that likes to throw a lot of punches. He is always in attack mode," said Marquez, also speaking through an interpreter. "My style is very similar.

"I'm not here to dance around and neither is Vazquez. That's why I think this fight is certainly going to live up to its billing."

Both fighters are from Mexico City, although Vazquez now makes his home in the Los Angeles area.

The 5-foot-5½ Marquez, a half-inch shorter than Vazquez, has made seven successful defenses of the IBF bantamweight title he won in 2003, and will be moving up from 118 pounds to 122 for the WBC title fight.

"I feel real good at 122 pounds," Marquez said. "I feel much stronger and I'm sure the weight is not going to be an issue once I get inside the ropes. Believe me, I have punching power at this weight."

Vazquez believes he will have the advantage because of the weight.

"I am a natural 122-pounder. He has never had to do that before," Vazquez, 29, said. "I think that will be the biggest obstacle facing him.

"He is going to have to fight a natural 122 and this is the weight I am really comfortable at and have been comfortable at my entire career."

Vazquez's last three fights ended with knockouts. He stopped Oscar Larios in three rounds on Dec. 3, 2005, to take the super bantamweight title; knocked out Ivan Hernandez in four last June 10; and stopped WBO bantamweight champ Jhonny Gonzalez in the 10th last Sept. 16.

Marquez, 31, has won his last 15 bouts dating to December 2000, 12 by knockout. Among his victories was an eighth-round knockout of Mark Johnson in 2002, and an eighth-round knockout of longtime champion Tim Austin to take the IBF crown on Feb. 15, 2003.

Vazquez will consider moving up if he beats Marquez.

"If everything goes well, I may move up in weight. I want to leave my mark on boxing," he said.

The undercard features unbeaten Vic Darchinyan (26-0, 21 knockouts) from Armenia, the WBO flyweight champion, in a title defense against Victor Burgos (39-14-3) of Cuidad Juarez, Mexico.