“I started when I was 11 years old,” Marquez, 34-2 (25), told Maxboxing.com Monday evening. “I started by getting in the ring. I idolized Jose Luis Castillo, who is from my neighborhood. I always loved to fight. I was always getting into street fights. Someone said, ‘Why don’t you just get in the ring?’ So I did. We’d have tournaments in my neighborhood. We’d go from neighborhood to neighborhood doing tournaments. That’s how I got started.”
The 24-year-old Marquez turned pro at age 16 in October of 2005. A month prior, the now 31-year-old Viloria won his first world title at 108 pounds.
“I have always heard of [Viloria] since I turned pro at 16 years old. I always followed his career. He’s a good fighter but I never thought I would be fighting a unification fight with him,” said Marquez. “He has a lot of experience. It’s going to be a great fight. Beating Viloria will take me to the next level. I am happy to be fighting in the U.S. It’s a great opportunity. I respect Viloria but I expect to beat him. I am excited for this fight.”
Like all Mexican fighters who turn pro at an early age, there is a trial-by-fire element. Oftentimes these young fighters are essentially boys fighting men. While the street can weed out some fighters from the rest and brief amateur careers can further close the field, the pro level is the true proving ground.
Marquez was 27-0 with 20 knockouts when he ran into Richie Mepranum for the first time in March 2010 at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine, TX. Though he’d blown through 27 fighters and earned the name “Tyson” for the explosive way he did it, when the fight was over, Marquez was no longer undefeated. The scores were 99-91, 96-94 and 98-92.
“I made mistakes,” admitted Marquez. “The first loss hurt me more because I lost my undefeated record. I felt I was ready for the fight but I had a hard time making the weight. The people I was with at the time, they didn’t understand nutrition and how to properly make weight. I went three days starving myself from Tuesday to Friday, not eating and hitting the sauna. That hurt me. My father didn’t want to take the fight but I couldn’t abandon it. I had to do it. Even though I was weight drained, I was winning the first four or five rounds, I thought. After that, I started feeling sick and weak. I know I lost the fight for that reason.”
In his next fight nearly four months later, Marquez was offered a shot at the WBA 115-pound belt against Nonito Donaire, now a titleholder at 122 pounds. While Marquez knew the fight was risky, he is a fighter and risking is what fighters do.
“I am a 112-pound fighter,” said Marquez who stands 5’2” with a 61½” reach. “They wanted this fight at 115. They took me because they knew I would lose the fight. I had nothing to lose. The chance to make $5000 was big for me. I needed the money, so I said, ‘Let me take the risk.’ The only thing I asked was that, win or lose, I wanted to be given a chance at 112 where I feel I am the best.”
Marquez took the fight and ended up losing by eighth round stoppage. While he was game, he was simply, as he put it, a true 112-pound fighter. The back-to-back losses changed everything for him.
“After I lost to Donaire, I wanted to go back to 112. I had a talk with my team and my father, my chef and my physical trainer to work on my physical stamina. I didn’t want to take just any fight. I wanted to dedicate myself to preparing for the right fight and preparing correctly,” explained Marquez.
Marquez took two more fights in 2010 to tune-up after the loss and then opened 2011 with arguably the fight of 2011. With 50 days to prepare and an advance from his team, Marquez began to prepare for a title shot in the division he truly belonged.
With the WBA flyweight belt on the line, on April 2, 2011, Marquez and Luis Concepcion unleashed hell on each other. Both men hit the canvas in the first round and each time one seized control, the other would wrest it right back. Marquez dropped Concepcion in the third but the war raged on. Marquez, once thought a mere brawler, changed up his tactics in this one, boxing and countering from the outside and attacking only when he needed to. Being a southpaw was starting to have advantages for Marquez as he boxed and punched in equal measure.
In the 10th, Marquez dropped Concepcion with what appeared to be a hard jab. Concepcion popped right back up from the shot and a fight broke out. Marquez was wobbled by Concepcion. For a moment, it appeared he might get stopped but he fought back gamely until the bell.
Between rounds, the ringside doctor looked at Concepcion’s damaged left eye and waved the fight off.
Just two fights removed from back-to-back defeat, “Tyson” Marquez was back.
“We made weight comfortably without starving,” recalled Marquez. “The difference was that I came prepared for the fight. No weight issues. I was hungry to win the fight.”
For this fight, Marquez has prepared up in Oxnard, CA with Robert Garcia at his Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. Garcia was once Viloria’s trainer. The two split in 2010.
“This is my first time working with him. Basically, I wanted to get away from home because of a lot of distractions,” Marquez explained of his sudden switch to a Southern California-based training camp. “I had heard about the Viloria fight for a while. I just wanted to stay sharp. So [I took the fights with Richie Mepranum and Fernando Lumacad) and won by decision with no injuries. The reason I went to work with Robert Garcia was to get away from all the distractions of home. Also, Robert Garcia knows Viloria very well and where to hurt him. That helped me make up my mind.”
While the big networks are looking at televising mismatches and fights based on personal relationships as opposed to good business sense, gems like Marquez vs. Viloria fall to the new player in the sport, WealthTV. Credit goes to them for knowing a great fight when they see it. Viloria is an experienced boxer-puncher who, at age 31 and a record of 31-3 with 18 knockouts, knows who he is and what he has to do to win. His right hand is the perfect counterpoint to Marquez’s long left or explosive right hook. The fight is a can’t-miss – and also one you don’t want to walk away from for one second.
“I am prepared for 12 rounds but I don’t expect it to go the distance,” said a confident Marquez. “I believe the fight will end towards round ten. Either way, I am ready for a war. It’s not going to a decision.”
On one card, we will witness a potential “Fight of the Year” candidate that unifies two belts in a division, leading to another unification bout. And all of the fights involved in that scenario will likely end in entertaining knockouts. How often can you say that?
All hail our smaller warriors.
You can email Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PST.
Please visit our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.