Someone Should Save Israel Vazquez from Himself

Tim HarrisonContributor IOctober 1, 2009

Israel Vazquez was already an accomplished boxer before his famed trilogy with Rafael Marquez. He fought in the purest form of the stereotype "Mexican Warrior" - boxing quietly until a glove hit him in the nose, bringing the warrior into the ring. Rafael Marquez brought the warrior out of Vazquez like no one before him. Marquez also has the warrior in his blood.

These two warriors gave fight fans three of the most exciting fights of this generation, all within the span of 365 days. Marquez won the first fight by TKO when Vazquez could not continue with a grotesquely broken nose. Vazquez came back and knocked Marquez out in the second fight before winning a (disputed) decision in their third fight.

The third fight between Marquez and Vazquez was twelve bloody rounds of back-and-forth. Both men looked exhausted in the eleventh round. When the twelfth round began Vazquez came out as fresh as he did in the first round. He fought like a desperate fighter hungry for his opponents destruction.

With less than ten seconds left in the twelfth round Vazquez scored a knock down, securing his victory in the fight with the point swing. Marquez felt he wasn't knocked down, despite the replays showing him crashing backwards into the corner, which the fans in the first four rows should have thanked for keeping a sweaty and bloodied Rafael Marquez off their laps.

The "controversy" of the last-second knockdown justified a fourth fight between the two. That was in March 2008. Israel Vazquez has been out of action since the fight. He was forced to nurse a knee ligament tear, head trauma, and a detached retina in his right eye. The detached retina required three surgeries to fully repair. Marquez, like Vazquez, was suspended from contact fighting in California for six months as a precautionary measure.

I recently came across pictures of Israel Vazquez as he trained for his next fight on October 10th against Angel Priolo, a ten-round tune up. Vazquez's face shows the effects of the three surgeries. His right eye droops and his nose has never retained it's original shape. I've also seen him speak. Whether he is speaking Spanish or English his speech is slow and slurred. Vasquez was in many wars before the three Marquez fights, and his brain has already suffered the effects of the wars.

If Marquez and Vazquez do step in the ring for a fourth time and pick up where they left off, the payday is certain to be eight figures. Both fighters and their families would be financially secure for their lives when you add an eight figure payday to their respective career winnings. Is it really worth it? Vazquez is already damaged and can probably look forward to a future of in-home care. I'm sure Marquez isn't that far behind him.

As a promoter, manager, or adviser, where would you draw the line with Israel Vazquez? Would you risk further brain damage and feed him to the lion that is Rafael Marquez, or would you do everything in your power to keep Vazquez out of the same building as Marquez?