This past Saturday night Showtime Boxing gave us two exciting fights to whet boxing fans appetites as they await for the Mayweather vs. Canelo bout next Saturday night on PPV. The main event was the tale of two heavyweights after different sides of the same thing. In Seth Mitchell (26-1-1, 19 KOs) you have the athlete who came to boxing later in his life after a football career at Michigan State University. He was facing Chris Arreola (35-3, 31 KOs) who is a fighter with amazing talent but too often does not put the time into the gym before his fights. He has faced some of the best including Vitali Klitschko back in September of 2009 for the WBC heavyweight title. Each fighter was coming off a recent loss and was looking to try to put themselves into the contender’s discussion. With his first round knockout of Mitchell he will get a buzz going again. Before the two heavyweights clashed there was a scheduled ten round fight between Rafael Marquez (41-8, 37 KOs) taking on Efrain Esquivias (16-2-1, 10KOs) in the featherweight division.
Marquez was the vastly more experienced fighter heading into this one being eight years the elder. The thinking going into the fight was that Marquez would need to use his legendary knockout power to end this fight early, and Esquivias would try to extend the fight into the later rounds. Both fighters needed a victory as Esquivias started his career 16-0, but since then has gone 0-2-1. His opponent, Marquez, was coming off a TKO loss in the ninth round of his last fight and he has gone 2-3 in his last five. He is reaching that age where the retirement talk starts to happen. If he had been able to score and early knockout win he might have quieten it for a moment. After this, his second consecutive ninth round knockout loss, it might be time. While Marquez might not be the great champion he was in his prime he proved that he is still a capable of putting on a great fight.
This fight was an example of the Esquivias being a busier, grittier, more inside kind of fighter, and Marquez having more one-punch power. He wants to stay on the outside and not get dragged into a grueling rougher style of fight. Marquez came out and tried to end the fight early throwing power punches. With fifty-four seconds left in the second round they showed that Marquez had already landed 23 of 52 power punches to Equivias’ 6 of 30. Marquez was landing. The problem was that Esquivias took it and kept coming.
The first two rounds were Marquez’ and he probably took the third one, but Esquivias started to assume control of the fight. He was dictating more of the action and started to land more. This carried over into the fourth round. Esquivias got stronger and Marquez started to show his age. In the fourth Marquez dropped off to 14 of 30 power punches in the round, while Esquivias landed 26 of 56. In the fifth round Esquivias was bouncing around, and seemingly getting energized with each punch he landed. The former champ kept throwing punches, circling away from trouble and fighting back. The numbers from the fifth round showed by how much Esquivias was taking over this fight though. He landed 49 of 105 punches in that round, compared to just 15 of 63 for Marquez. His body was slowly betraying him as his heart wanted more than his battered body could deliver against the hungry Esquivias.
The seventh started out like the previous few rounds; Esquivias comfortable, walking Marquez down and landing combinations effortlessly. He was repeatedly snapping Marquez’ head back and it was now just a matter of whether or not Marquez can go the distance. The power that he had carried with him throughout his career was not in the ring on this night. Esquivias had taken Marquez’ power shots and did not fear them at this point in the fight. Then, with forty seconds left in the round, Marquez landed a right hand that backed Esquivias off for a moment. He came forward and they exchanged and separated. Then Marquez landed a combination and hurt Esquivias with a body shot. The suddenly energized Marquez had Esquivias against the ropes and landed the last twenty five to thirty punches of round. If there had been another ten seconds maybe he finishes the fight. Instead that was his last big moment of the fight.
In the eighth round Esquivias was able to re-establish control of the fight. By the end of the round it was Marquez who was in trouble and looking to survive. He made it out of the round but did not last long into the ninth one. Esquivias landed another right hand that finally ended it. It was a great fight filled with action, most of it on the inside between two warriors at different stages of their careers. The moment of the fight was after the fight during the interview with Jim Gray. Esquivias was telling Marquez how much of a fan of his he has been for many years. They were speaking more than Spanish at that moment, it was a language that comes from the blood that pumps and bleeds from deep inside. It was the silent language of the shared pain and suffering of fighters. In that moment Esquivias is that young fan with a small sheepish smile looking at a legend of the sport. Marquez was looking back with a proud grin of a battled tested lion, one who knew that he shared the same spirit as the young lion who had just defeated him, and that spirit would be carried on by the next generation of fighters like Esquivias. It was a classic battle where the cagey veteran almost held off the young challenger but youth prevailed on this night. If it was Marquez’ last fight it is a fitting end to a great career, as the fighter who battled until the end.
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