BoxingWatchers.com 2007 Fight of the Year: Vazquez-Marquez II

Since boxing history is full of exciting rematches and trilogies, it's hardly surprising that two men could put on a pair of Fight of the Year candidates in a single calendar year. That being said, there's no question that something special happened each time Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez faced off in 2007.

Far too often today's fights seem to please either action fans or purists while alienating the other group, but the first Vazquez-Marquez showdown in March was a treat for everyone. Closely fought from the get-go, Vazquez seemed to hold a narrow lead after seven rounds. One problem: a Marquez punch smashed his nose, and Israel was unable to continue.

When the rematch was scheduled for August, the obvious but inevitable question became whether or not the sequel could live up to the original. Both men delivered in spades, trading shots over six hard-fought rounds until Vazquez avenged his defeat with a KO. It was, as my brother Uatu put it, pretty rare to see two boxers with such high skill levels hit each other so hard and so often.

Naturally, the rubber match scheduled for March 2008 is highly anticipated, and with two close, exciting fights already in the books, it's really anyone's guess what might happen. That should pretty much sum up why Vazquez-Marquez II is BoxingWatchers.com's 2007 Fight of the Year.

Honorable Mention: If you wanted to hear 10,000 fans sound like 100,000, all you needed to do was be inside Boardwalk Hall for Taylor-Pavlik. A sizable contingent of The Ghost's supporters were on hand, but plenty of people cheered when the then-undefeated middleweight champion sent Pavlik to the mat early in the fight.

Of course Pavlik and his fans cheered last, and everyone on hand agreed it was a hell of a fight. And lest we dismiss it as just a slugfest, let's not forget that Taylor showed some nice boxing skills as well - he was ahead on all three cards when he was knocked out in the seventh. The return engagement will take place in Vegas in February, and the MGM Grand can only hope for the same atmosphere.

Another fight that paired two talented boxers in their primes but simply lacked the drama of the two fights above was Calzaghe-Kessler. The two undefeated Europeans squared off in a very well-fought bout, and the four and five-point margins on the judges' cards may not entirely reflect how hard Kessler made Calzaghe work for his win. Joe may need any lessons he learned if he ever lands the fight he wants with Bernard Hopkins.

Special "Most Like a Video Game" Honor: Bika-Codrington - Contender Season 3 Finale. I love EA's Fight Night series of video games, but the two-way bombs that land in the electronic world simply don't happen in real life. At least that's what I thought until I watched Sakio Bika and Jaidon Codrington connect with an insane number of power shots. No one watching learned anything about the fundamentals of boxing, but the fight completely blew away expectations and was absolutely enthralling television.

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