In this Vazquez-Marquez IV pre-fight piece, I explore the modern Mexican version of Shaolin shadowboxing in the context of Shaolin kung fu's rivalry with the Wu Tang sword style.
The martial arts referred to in this piece are the Shaolin and Wu Tang methods cinematically depicted in the cult favorite Shaolin and Wu Tang (aka Shaolin Master Killer).
As I reviewed footage from the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez Trilogy, all I could say was...
"Thank God no swords were involved."
If Vazquez and Marquez had used Wu Tang sword thrusts and Shaolin broadsword cuts to fight each other, there would've been no Trilogy.
If the two warriors had used blades instead of fists, one of them would've been killed within the first minute or two. Even if it had been a kung fu movie, someone would've died after a spectacular duel.
As shown by the Vazquez-Marquez Trilogy, the Shaolin shadowboxing's updated Mexican version is dangerous as is.
(Trilogy Analysis and Vazquez-Marquez IV prediction after the jump)
1. The broken nose Rafael Marquez gave Israel Vazquez in the first round of their first fight demonstrated the potentially devastating results of pressure point strikes: Vazquez was forced to quit on his stool after the seventh round, due to breathing difficulties from the badly broken nose.
In addition, Marquez cut Vazquez badly in their second and third fights.
2. Vazquez applied his own leather-strapped techniques to great effect in their rematch, knocking down Marquez twice.
After the second knockdown, which came in Round 6, Vazquez backed Marquez to the ropes, and threw an unending flurry of strikes. This relentless beating administered by Vazquez forced the referee to put a temporary halt to the madness.
3. The extended duel of fists between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez culminated in their rubber match, which Vazquez clinched via split decision. In the fight's first half, Vazquez found himself bewildered by the jabs and combinations of Marquez, and was even knocked down in the fourth round.
However, he turned it up in the second half to set up the epic Round 12: Vazquez unleashed his fistic fury on Marquez, much like he did in the sixth round of their rematch.
Vazquez landed huge rights, some lefts - and basically the whole kitchen sink - at Marquez. He knocked down Marquez with a short left hook, and only that erased some doubt of Vazquez's victory.
Surely enough, just one point decided the winner of the bout. The 12th round knockdown proved decisive.
Two years ago, I thought the Vazquez-Marquez rivalry closed when their rubber match ended. However, I was wrong. There will be the fourth - and I hope, final - showdown on Saturday (9 PM ET, Showtime).
If you asked me who'd win, I'd say Vazquez.
As thrilling as the Trilogy was, I felt that Vazquez has always been the bigger, more powerful fighter. Although he couldn't continue in the first fight due to a broken nose, Vazquez has been able to eat Marquez's punches, get inside, and hurt Marquez.
Marquez has been the better technician with the crispier jab and combinations. But for the most part, he hasn't been able to stop the mad charges of Vazquez.
courtesy of Showtime
When I see a fight like Vazquez-Angel Priolo, Vazquez's most recent, I see that Vazquez's ability to give and take punishment is still there, even after all those wars.
Factoring in the damage the smaller Rafael Marquez has been taking from the bigger, stronger Israel Vazquez, I predict a TKO win for Vazquez in the 10th.
Still, no matter how the fight ends, I'm sure we'll be witnesses to yet another thriller, after which we can say...
"Thank God no swords were involved."
Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez is The Rivalry Without Swords.