By Jake Donovan
Their first fight produced a flyweight war for the ages, enough to necessitate a rematch just six months later.
The sequel was enough of a blowout to not put a third fight on the radar, which explains why dumb luck once brings together Luis Concepcion and Hernan ‘Tyson’ Marquez. The pair of diminutive sluggers once again collide Thursday evening at Arena Roberto Duran in Panama City, Panama.
Judging by the way their first two fights played out, it’s interesting that Marquez has come out worse for the wear. Concepcion (33-4, 24KOs) has managed 10 of 11 wins following a pair of knockout losses to his old rival in 2011, while Marquez has since fallen on hard times. This fight comes on short notice only as a replacement for Giovani Segura, who was pulled in favor of moving towards a potential showdown with unbeaten World flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez early in 2016.
Then again, there’s something to be said for quality of opposition.
In that regard, it can easily be argued that Concepcion has been the better preserved of the two. He was flying high until running into Marquez in their epic war in April ’11. The fight took place in the very same venue as tonight’s clash, with both fighters hitting the deck before Marquez ultimately prevailed in what for the first ten months of 2011 was regarded as the leading Fight of the Year candidate.
The rematch six months later in Mexico began with the suggestion of being just as competitive. That lasted only as long as it took for Marquez to find Concepcion’s chin, flooring him three times en route to a 1st round knockout.
Concepcion has managed to pile up wins since then, even working his way back towards title contention. He eventually outgrow the flyweight division before getting another chance at a second title reign, officially moving up to super flyweight last summer.
A mixed bag of results have come of his run: a 7th round stoppage of Duvan Hernandez last August to earn a title shot; a clear but competitive decision loss to unbeaten super flyweight champ Carlos Cuadras this past April in Metepec, Mexico; and a strong showing in a 10th round knockout of David Sanchez this past September at Centro de Usos Multiples in Hermosillo, Mexico.
The latter win helped exorcise past demons, as that very same venue played host to his 1st round knockout loss to Marquez (39-6-1, 28KOs). His knockout of Sanchez came one week prior to Marquez seemingly hitting the end of his run as a title contender, as he was walloped in 10 rounds by Juan Francisco Estrada.
It was the fourth knockout loss in as many years for the southpaw slugger from Mexico, who suddenly appears to be a very old 27-year old ex-champion. He had an incredible run following back-to-back losses to Richie Mepranum and Nonito Donaire in 2010, rattling of seven straight wins including his pair of knockouts over Concepcion.
Three stoppage wins in as many fights in 2011 landed Marquez on a short list of Fighter of the Year contenders, spilling over into a 2012 run that saw him avenge his first career loss with a decision win over Mepranum in his first fight on the year.
The beginning of the end came in his brutal slugfest with Brian Viloria in Nov. ’12. Their thrilling slugfest ended with Marquez battered into submission in 10 rounds, kicking off of a run of at least knockout loss in each of the past four years. He is 5-4-1 in his past 10 fights, suffering stoppage defeats at the hands of Viloria, Segura, McJoe Arroyo and most recently Estrada.
None of the wins over that stretch suggest an ability to compete at the top level, nor did his surprising eight-round draw with clubfighter Ricardo Roman last December.
Then again, he could very well be the Iran Barkley to Concepcion’s Tommy Hearns. Given that Concepcion is no Hearns, perhaps their third fight isn’t quite the foregone conclusion that at first glance appears to be the case.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: LUIS CONCEPCION vs. HERNAN MARQUEZ
Ryan Burton (Marquez KO): Conventional wisdom says Marquez is shot and Concepcion looks revitalized but my gut says Marquez just has his number, even on short notice.
Jake Donovan (Concepcion KO10): I don’t put much into Marquez taking this fight on short notice, as I sense he knew he was on standby from the moment Segura was initially mentioned as a future opponent for Roman Gonzalez. However, I also don’t subscribe to the theory that he has Concepcion’s number – he once did, but a brutal war in their first fight followed by knockout losses in each of the past four years including a beatdown at the hands of Juan Estrada less than three months ago tell me that it’s finally Nica’s time to shine in this rivalry.
Takahiro Onaga (Concepcion TKO8): "Tyson" is always fun to watch, but being fun has taken it's toll and I see Concepcion avenging his defeats to Marquez here, and showing just how far gone Marquez is.
Cliff Rold (Concepcion KO): Nica is fresher and Marquez is coming off a(nother) brutal KO loss.
Victor Salazar (Concepcion mid-rds KO): I like Concepcion by ko mid rounds, Marquez is one of my favorite little guys but he's certainly an old 27.
Reynaldo Sanchez (Concepcion mid-rds KO): Marquez as last minute opponent has less chance. Nobody knows if he had a proper training camp, plus he has received a lot of punishment recently.
Alexey Sukachev (Concepcion KO8): Can't believe I'm saying this but it looks as if Marquez is much more of a finished fighter than a man he scored two KOs against. Marquez is officially a journeyman and a soft chin to rely upon. With newly found dedication the Panamanian has no other choice but to avenge his previous losses.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox