20-20 Hindsight: Vazquez-Marquez III Lives Up to the Hype, Should They Go for Four?

As excited as I was for Saturday's "Tiebreaker" between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, there was just a small twinge of anxiety mixed in. Since the first two fights in their series were so good, I thought there was a chance they wouldn't take it to the same level for a third time.

I shouldn't have worried. Thrilling, breathtaking... pick any superlative you want and it applied to the third chapter. Vazquez and Marquez showed the same skill, guts and determination that made their 2007 meetings so compelling, and this time they did it for a full 12 rounds.

While the recent Klitschko-Ibragimov fight was one you wouldn't want to show to your non-boxing fan friends, Vazquez-Marquez III was a perfect example of one that you could use to sell the sport. This bout had something for everyone: a frenetic pace, several shifts in momentum, and even a thrilling finish with a knockdown in the closing seconds that proved to be the difference in Vazquez's razor-thin margin of victory.

And speaking of the finish, I didn't see the controversy that some seemed to see. Vazquez was dominating the final round in a manner that may have had the judges thinking about a 10-8 round even without a knockdown, and referee Pat Russell made the correct call anyway, as the ropes were the only thing keeping Marquez from hitting the canvas. He's too proud and fought too hard to admit it, but he was going down.

One thing Saturday's fight did not provide is a definitive end to the rivalry. Some, like ESPN.com's Franklin McNeill, feel that Marquez gives away too much in strength and power to Vazquez, and that a fourth fight would automatically go Vazquez's way. Marquez did fade late in the fight, but take away the point he had deducted for a low blow and he's got a draw - or even a win if he doesn't go down late in the twelfth round.

So with little question about whether fans would enjoy seeing them fight again, the question becomes whether health considerations should prevent them for going for four, because the 12 rounds we just witnessed are the type that can easily shorten careers. One look at Vazquez's face after the fight - one of the ugliest winning faces I've seen since becoming a boxing fan - was proof enough of that.

I'll admit that I'd love to see a fourth bout, but it was nice to hear common sense prevail as December was thrown out as a possible date. Both men could use the time to heal up, and quite frankly, the rest of the boxing world needs a chance to catch up.

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