Miguel Vazquez was considered the world’s top 135-pound boxer entering the seventh defense of his title against Mickey Bey in September 2014.
Armed with a defensive, technical style that is atypical of the aggressive, come-forward Mexican tradition, Vazquez was riding a 13-fight winning streak, including three stoppage victories. Bey, meanwhile, was two wins removed from a 10th-round stoppage loss to John Molina Jr. in July 2013—the only defeat of his career.
But after 12 competitive rounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, it was Bey who pulled out a disputed split-decision victory. One judge favored Vazquez 115-113, while the others had it 115-113 and—stunningly—119-109 for Bey.
The result sticks in the craw of the 29-year-old Vazquez to this day.
“I think I won that fight, and [the judges] took that away from me,” he says. “But the past has to be left in the past. Now, it’s a very important time to re-enter the ring and win my next fight.”
That next fight comes Saturday night when Miguel Vazquez (35-5, 13 KOs) continues his path toward redemption against Erick Bone (16-3, 8 KOs) at Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio in the headliner of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox Sports 1 (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
The 10-round bout is particularly intriguing because it’s scheduled to be contested at 144 pounds. It will mark the first time Vazquez will fight at or above that limit since weighing 148¼ pounds in June 2008, when he lost a 10-round unanimous decision to future two-division world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
“ I think his legs were beginning to tire at 135. Miguel will be better and stronger at 140 pounds. ” Javier Capetillo, trainer for former world champion Miguel Vazquez
In his 16 fights since losing to Alvarez for the second time—Vazquez also dropped a four-round split decision to his Mexican countryman in his pro debut in January 2006—Vazquez has fought almost exclusively at 135 pounds. During that 16-fight stretch, his maximum weight was 139 for a unanimous decision over Rodrigo Juarez in October 2008, the bout that followed his second defeat to Alvarez.
If you ask trainer Javier Capetillo, Vazquez’s rise in weight was inevitable.
“I think his legs were beginning to tire at 135,” Capetillo says. “He was a solid 135-pounder who [successfully] defended his title six times, but at this point, Miguel will be better and stronger at 140 pounds.”
Vazquez, who lost a 10-round unanimous decision to former 130-pound champion Algenis Mendez in his last fight in October—concurs with his coach.
“This is the correct weight for me at this moment, and I feel very comfortable here,” says Vazquez, whose fight against Mendez was also at Cowboys Dancehall. “I was fine mentally against Mendez, [a fight that] could have gone either way.
“That was just a bad night, so we’ve trained to be more offensive than before, going forward and standing inside more. But we’re not going to get away from our style.”
Vazquez originally was slated to face 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz on Saturday night, but the Puerto Rico native had to withdraw because of injury. Now Vazquez will be matched up against Bone, a 27-year-old from Manabí, Ecuador, who is coming off consecutive defeats to former world champions Shawn Porter (fifth-round KO in March 2015 as a late replacement) and Chris Algieri (10-round unanimous decision in December).
The change in opponents means Vazquez had to go from preparing for the 5-foot-5 Diaz, a southpaw, to the 5-foot-9 Bone, who fights orthodox. Vazquez, who stands 5-10, says the style switch doesn’t concern him at all.
“I’ve been sparring with lefties and righties, so there will be no problem adjusting,” he says.
Vazquez was 24-3—the losses coming to eventual champions Alvarez and Tim Bradley—entering his July 2009 fight against Breidis Prescott, who at the time was 21-0 with 18 KOs, including a 54-second stoppage of Amir Khan. Vazquez was dropped in the first round by Prescott, but rallied to win a 10-round split decision.
In his next fight in August 2010, Vazquez defeated Ji-Hoon Kim by unanimous decision to win a vacant 135-pound world title, and he held onto it for four years until falling to Bey.
Now Vazquez finds himself at a bit of a crossroads, and he's hopeful his move to 140 will rejuvenate his career.
“I feel right now like I felt back at 135,” says Vazquez, who won a 10-round unanimous decision over Jerry Belmontes in March 2015 in between the defeats to Bey and Mendez. “In fact, I feel even stronger than I did back then.
“My last two losses cost me credibility. What I need to do is win my next fight and show people—the matchmakers and everyone else—that they can start to believe in me again.”
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