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Rafael Marquez-Cristian Mijares: Pre-Fight Report Card

by Cliff Rold

It’s a Mexican showdown in Mexico City.  It’s also easily billed as ‘loser goes away.’  It might not literally be true but for the defeated man, heading home will be easier than heading up in the ranks again anytime soon.

At least the loser wouldn’t have to go far, relatively, to get inside their front door. 

Given the WBC ratings right now at 122 lbs., featuring Rafael Marquez at #2, the chance that the winner could be in line to act as the mandatory for the winner of Abner Mares-Anselmo Moreno gives this fight stakes.

Personal pride would be on the line either way 

Let’s go to the report card.

The Ledgers

Rafael Marquez
Age: 37
Title: None
Previous Titles: IBF Bantamweight (2003-07, 7 Defenses); WBC Super Bantamweight & Lineal/Ring World Jr. Featherweight (2007)
Height: 5’5
Weight: 122 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 125.2 lbs.

Hails from: Mexico City, Mexico
Record: 41-7, 37 KO, 5 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: #8 at Featherweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 9-4, 7 KO, 2 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 5 (Mark Johnson, Tim Austin, Mauricio Pastrana, Israel Vazquez, Eric Aiken)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 4 (Victor Rabanables, Israel Vazquez, Juan Manuel Lopez, Toshiaki Nishioka)

Vs.

Cristian Mijares
Age: 31
Title: None
Previous Titles: WBC Super Flyweight (2006-08, 7 Defenses); WBA Super Flyweight (2008, 1 Defense); IBF Super Flyweight (2010-11, 1 Defense)
Height: 5’6
Weight: 122 lbs.

Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 121.25 lbs.

Hails from: Gomez Palacio, Durango, Mexico
Record: 46-6-2, 21 KO, 1 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: #10 at Jr. Featherweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 9-1, 4 KO, 1 KOBY (11-3, 4 KO, 1 KOBY including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 6 (Tomas Rojas, Katsushige Kawashima, Jorge Arce, Alexander Munoz, Chatchai Sasakul, Juan Alberto Rosas)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 1 (Vic Darchinyan)

Pre-Fight: Speed – Marquez B-; Mijares B
Pre-Fight: Power – Marquez B+; Mijares C+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Marquez C; Mijares B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Marquez A; Mijares B+

In another time and place, this might have been one of the hottest little weight fights in the game.  That time is well past.  Instead, we have a nice clash of veterans trying to hang on, both with plenty of back-story.

Since losing the 122 lb. crown back to Israel Vazquez in their second fight, Marquez has fallen short in three spirited title tries.  The Vazquez rubber match was a classic that could have gone either way.  He came close in spots but couldn’t put away Juan Manuel Lopez at Featherweight and was ultimately stopped himself.  Last year, he won some rounds but took a lot of shots against Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka.  If he can get to the Mares-Moreno winner, he’d be a sizable underdog.

But at least he’d be in the fight. 

Marquez has shown, even as he’s aged, that he can still land hurting bombs.  That he didn’t land enough to beat Lopez and Nishioka spoke to their being fresher and quicker.  Marquez isn’t as quick as he was in his prime (and was no speed demon then).  The 37-year old still times his right hand well but takes more counters than he should. 

That could play into the hands of Mijares.  The southpaw, winner of ten in a row since a disastrous three-fight losing streak, still puts combinations together and has a knack for throwing and landing when opponents are stepping back.  The jab isn’t as frequent as it was during his peak mid-2000s run but it’s still thrown with educated volume.  Bad for him is that he also still takes a lot of right hands.

Mijares in recent vintage has been mostly flat-footed.  In his fights with Eddy Julio and Eusebio Osejo, he stayed in the trenches and conserved his legs.  He still defends well inside most of the time, and clinches when he needs to, but he isn’t hard to find and allows room for opponents to land. 

Could Mijares, remembering the last time he was in with a truly renowned puncher, play safe on Saturday?  Vic Darchinyan took advantage of the willingness of Mijares to box at a dangerous range and went through him.  Marquez might not have the legs to chase him.  If Mijares doesn’t make him, does he give Marquez his best chance to win?  Mijares can also be outmuscled, as was the case in the rematch loss to Nehomar Cermeno (the first loss was a tad controversial).  Marquez will likely be the stronger of the two.

If Marquez can land the right, he can hurt Mijares.  If he lands it often enough, he can finish him.  Add in that Marquez has always stepped to the scale a little larger, has seen a deeper range of competition over the course of his career, and doesn’t appear to be shot just yet, and one has to like his chances.

The Picks

This corner likes his chances enough to tab him the likely winner.  Mijares has made a steady rise back to some relevance, but of the two it was Marquez who truly brushed with greatness at his peak.  Mijares looked like he might get there but settled at just really good-ness.  Mijares can box and move, but it doesn’t look like he thinks he has the legs to do it all night.  Given his penchant to exchange even with those he should be outboxing, the power of Marquez, and the home-ring edge for Marquez, this looks like what might be a last fine victory for a future Hall of Famer.

The pick here is Marquez by stoppage sometime around the eighth round after landing one too many power blasts on the night.

Report Card Picks 2012: 57-17

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transanational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

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