Former three-division world champion, Rafael Marquez, 41-8 (37), brought in what he could at age 37, challenging former three-time world champion and southpaw Cristian Mijares, 47-6-2 (22), falling a hair short and losing via ninth round TKO at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico, in the TV Azteca-televised fight card on Saturday night.
Marquez’s better moments came in the first half of the fight (despite losing a point in the first round) early on. With lots of energy, he pressed Mijares back, landing thudding shots, as Mijares slowly adjusted on the angles as the rounds went on.
“Rafa’s” effectiveness waned in the third and fourth as Mijares got sharper with his shots, utilizing his quicker hands as Marquez began to fall behind.
By the fifth round, it was clear that Marquez’s reflexes were not what they once were. Though still game, he was outworked by the slippery and tricky southpaw at nearly every turn. Mijares kept landing uppercuts and short hooks while Marquez did manage to land hooks of his own behind jabs that were pushed instead of used as a weapon.
Marquez landed some solid shots, taking the seventh as Mijares squared himself while trying to land his straight lefts. Mijares’ plan of attack looked out of sorts by then as he began pushing his own shots. MIjares’ uppercuts (which proved very effective earlier on) were only not matched but bettered by the straighter shots coming back at him as Marquez used angles, moved out of the way and popped his foe with short, straight shots.
Between rounds, Marquez’s trainer, Daniel Zaragoza (whom was stopped by Erik Morales for “El Terrible’s” first world title in “The Mouse’s” final outing), urged his charge to stay active as Marquez sported a swelling under his left eye and breathed heavily on the stool.
Marquez managed to remain active in the following round, throwing more shots and landing at long range. However, Mijares stepped on the gas and rocked his opponent with straight lefts and uppers. Marquez stood his ground, coming back to stop Mijares in his tracks with both fighters ending the high energy round, landing bombs until the bell.
Mijares, sporting a swollen right cheek, chose to box in the ninth, landing potshots while moving to his left. He finally slowed down and stayed in the pocket, giving Marquez chances to land his own shots at center ring.
A jarring left hook by Mijares brought the fight to an end as Marquez was driven against the ropes. Mijares jumped all over his opponent, landing a series of unanswered shots, leaving referee Jose Guadalupe Garcia no choice but to stop the fight at 1:59 of the ninth round.
Marquez, bleeding from a small cut above his left eye, protested the stoppage as Mijares, who sported a nasty cut above his right eye, celebrated in his corner.
With the win, Mijares has reeled 11 straight victories, after dropping three consecutive losses to Vic Darchinyan in 2008 and Nehomar Cermeno (twice) in 2009.
Mijares, who won vacant WBC “silver” super bantamweight belt and the vacant WBS United States featherweight title, called out Jorge Arce (whom he bested five-and-a-half years ago) once again after the fight.
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