Photos: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME

LOS ANGELES (May 22, 2010) – One of the greatest rivalries in the history of boxing ended at two victories apiece after Rafael Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs) of Mexico City decisively stopped a bloodied Israel “El Magnifico” Vazquez (44-5, 33 KOs) of Huntington Park, Calif., by way of Mexico City, at 1:33 in the third round Saturday in the main event on SHOWTIME®.

In a battle of unbeatens in a crowd-pleasing co-feature before 9,200 at STAPLES Center, Yonnhy Perez (20-0-1, 14 KOs) ) of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., via Cartagena, Colombia, retained his International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight title with a 12-round majority draw with Abner Mares (20-0-1 13 KOs) of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif.

“It is so fitting that the amazing series between Marquez and Vazquez ends tied at two,’’ said Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. “Both men will go down in history alongside the greatest fighters this sport has known. We are proud to have been part of this historic rivalry and to have delivered, once again, the best that boxing has to offer.”

Vazquez, a three-time world champion, was victorious in the last two slugfests in a memorable series, but Saturday belonged to two-division belt-holder, Marquez, who dominated from the outset and scored a knockdown shortly before the referee stepped in and halted matters.

“I waited almost two years for this moment, and I made the most of it,’’ said Marquez, who appeared fresher and stronger throughout. “My new trainer, Daniel Zaragoza, made a huge difference.

“I’d fight Vazquez a fifth time anytime. He deserves it. He knows how much respect I have for him.’’

At bout’s conclusion, Vazquez, who won the second round on one of the judges’ scorecards, was badly cut around both eyes. He had a deep gash on his left eyebrow and his right eye was cut and his right eyelid was swollen.

“I would have liked to have won this to go up 3-1, but the cuts were not good,’’ said Vazquez, who took a knee after getting nailed with a combination of punches. “I gave it all I had.’’

The same could be said for both future Hall of Famers throughout their remarkably exciting, closely contested series, two of which earned Fight of the Year honors. For every second of every round in every fight, they gave 100 percent of themselves.

Frank Espinoza Sr., who has managed Vazquez throughout his career and helped take him to heights no one could have expected, said in the ring immediately afterward that Vazquez had fought for the last time.

“That’s it,’’ Espinoza said. “His career is over. He’s not going to fight again.’’

Perez barely kept his title in a non-stop action affair between old friends and new rivals that featured countless exchanges by the scores of 114-114 twice and 113-115. There were no knockouts, but Perez was rocked near the end of the 12th.

“I definitely won this fight; it was not a draw,’’ Perez said. “He’s a good fighter and I am willing to fight him again, but it is up to my corner.’’

Said a disappointed Mares: “I’m very sad. The fans know who won the fight. You heard their reaction when the decision was announced. I almost had him out in the last round but I ran out of time. I want an immediate rematch.’’

A doubleheader co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Gary Shaw Productions, Espinoza Boxing Promotions and Zanfer Promotions and sponsored by Cerveza Tecate, will re-air this week as follows:

DAY                                                               CHANNEL

Monday, May 24, at 10 p.m. ET/PT               SHO 2

Saturday’s fights will be available ON DEMAND beginning on Wednesday, May 26.

Gus Johnson (blow-by-blow), Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver (analysts) called the action with Jim Gray reporting from ringside. The executive producer was David Dinkins, Jr., with Bob Dunphy directing.

SHOWTIME Sports Boxing Schedule: The Super Six World Boxing Classic resumes on Saturday, June 19, when undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) 168-pound champion and America’s last Olympic Gold Medalist, Andre Ward (20-0, 13 KOs), defends against world-ranked Allan “Sweetness” Green (29-1, 20 KOs), of Tulsa, Okla., in the last of the Group Stage 2 bouts. The telecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

For information on SHOWTIME Sports Programming, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast information and more, please go the new SHOWTIME Sports website at http://www.sho.com/sports.

Results Marquez Wins Photos: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME

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