THE boxer’s full name is Hernan Marquez Beltran, but because of his immense punching power he has come to be known as Tyson Marquez in the punch-for-pay business. The “Tyson” tag, of course, is lifted from the surname of the youngest fighter ever to win the heavyweight title: the hammer-fisted Mike Tyson.
On November 18 (Manila time), at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California, Mexican Marquez will try to live up to the ‘Tyson’ moniker when he goes up against Filipino Brian Viloria in a rare 12-round unification showdown for the World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight championships. Marquez, the defending WBA champ, is reporting for battle with an impressive record of 34-2 with 25 knockouts, but his record is spotty when it comes to fights involving Filipino adversaries.
In March 2010, Marquez was 27-0 and the hottest flyweight prospect in the world when he stepped on a banana peel named Richie Mepranum. With only five knockouts in his 21-1 resume, Sarangani native Mepranum was supposed to be cannibalized alive by Marquez. Instead, Mepranum boxed cleverly in the early rounds to build a sizeable lead in the scorecards. Marquez rallied in the last few rounds but Mepranum was able to hang on to secure a unanimous decision victory.
Marquez blamed the Mepranum loss to difficulties in meeting the weight limit of 112 pounds in the flyweight division. Four months later, Marquez moved up to the 115-pound super flyweight class and challenged then interim WBA champion Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash’ Donaire Jr. Marquez did not have a chance, getting knocked down twice before being brutally stopped in eight rounds.
With his career on the verge of a serious meltdown, Marquez decided to return to the flyweight class and start all over. Armed with a stronger resolve, Marquez has since racked up seven straight victories, five by knockouts. On April 2, 2011, Marquez waged war with Panama’s Luis Concepcion and won the WBA flyweight title with a hard-earned 11th-round technical knockout. In a free-swinging brawl, both fighters kissed the canvas in the opening round. Marquez retaliated by flooring Concepcion in the third and fouth rounds before the fight was stopped in the 11th stanza.
Marquez has made two successful defenses of the WBA title, stopping Filipino Edrin Dapudong in three rounds in July 2011 and annihilating Concepcion in one round in their return encounter in October 2011. Marquez’s last two fights though have come by way of ho-hum, non-title decision victories over Filipinos Mepranum and Fernando “Trigger” Lumacad.
While he has been on a roll, Marquez figures to have his hands full against the resurgent Viloria. Viloria, 31-3 with 18 knockouts, is enjoying a career revival after losing his International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight title via a brutal 12th-round knockout to Colombian Carlos Tamara in January 2010. Viloria ran out of steam in the Tamara fight and ended up in a hospital after the bout. Despite serious concerns about his health after the fight, Viloria chose to remain in the sport. By some miracle, Viloria became a champion again, collaring the WBO flyweight diadem in July 2011 with an impressive 12-round decision over Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda. Viloria has since posted two impressive defenses of the crown, stopping Mexican power-puncher Giovani Segura in eight rounds in December 2011 and Mexican veteran Omar Nino Romero in 9 in May 2012.
Marquez, 24, is cognizant of Viloria’s impressive five-bout streak and is seriously preparing for the fight. The WBA champ has tapped the services of American trainer Robert Garcia (the former IBF super featherweight champ and currently the trainer of Donaire) and is reportedly training like a monk. Marquez has serious issues when it comes to dealing with fleet-footed boxers; he just can’t handle a lot of movement in the ring. Mepranum was an average boxer and he still ran circles around Marquez. Marquez’s defense is also like a convenience store; it’s open 24 hours.
Viloria, 31, is not known as a mover, but he moves his head well and knows how to feint properly. When it comes to power punching, Viloria’s right straight can also topple condemned buildings. Viloria has also faced and defeated tougher opponents, guys like Segura, Romero, and Ulises Solis. Viloria’s problem has been his conditioning as he tends to melt down the stretch. But since moving up in weight, Viloria has been sturdy in the rounds that mattered most.
Viloria-Marquez should be a very exciting scuffle. The money is on Viloria, but there is no ruling out the guy who flaunts the sobriquet ‘Tyson.’