Showtime to show Vazquez-Marquez IV

Updated: December 5, 2009, 1:11 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez have already waged an epic trilogy consisting of 25 rounds of furious, non-stop action. Now, the Mexican warriors will clash for the fourth -- and final -- time, the promoters for both fighters told ESPN.com on Friday.

The deal for the much-discussed fight was completed following a final conference call between Marquez promoter Gary Shaw, Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, who promotes Vazquez, and Showtime executive Ken Hershman, Shaw said.

The scheduled 12-round featherweight fight will take place May 22 on Showtime from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"We are done. We have agreed on everything. We're excited about it," Schaefer said. "We have May 22 and the date has been cleared with Showtime and Staples. Staples is really where I think the fight belongs."

The first three Vazquez-Marquez junior featherweight championship fights in 2007 and 2008 are considered one of the greatest trilogies in boxing history, with fights II and III each winning fight of the year honors.

In the first fight on March 3, 2007, Marquez, a former bantamweight champion, stopped Vazquez in the seventh round to win the junior featherweight title.

Vazquez exacted revenge in the rematch on Aug. 4, 2007, with a sixth-round knockout.

In the third bout on March 1, 2008, Vazquez rallied from a fourth-round knockdown to score a 12th-round knockdown that turned out to be the winning margin in a sensational split-decision victory to regain the title.

The fights were all brutal and took physical tolls on both men.

Marquez (38-5, 34 KOs), 34, didn't fight for 14 months until returning for a third-round knockout of Jose Francisco Mendoza in Mexico on May 23. Vazquez was badly beat up as well and needed three surgeries on his damaged retina, which led to a 19-month layoff.

Vazquez (44-4, 32 KOs), 31, returned on Oct. 10 and struggled to a ninth-round knockout of Angel Priolo in Los Angeles.

Shaw and Golden Boy had hoped to have the fight on Feb. 27 at Staples Center, but Showtime didn't clear the date, electing not to put on a major fight that month because of the winter Olympics.

The next available Saturday night at Staples Center wasn't until May 22, because of the arena's heavy professional hockey and basketball schedules.

Given how ferocious the first three battles were, the fourth fight -- which Shaw said will be dubbed "The Final Chapter" -- figures to be another action-packed bout.

"Very rarely do you have fighters made for each other like an Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, but these guys are made for each other," Schaefer said. "They know this is the biggest fight for each of them at this point of their careers. If they fought other guys it would be OK, but they want to do it again and their fans want it. I can't wait to see it again."

With Showtime paying $1.6 million for the fight and the camps on a 50-50 deal, it was the easily the biggest payday for each fighter.

Said Shaw, "It will be an exciting fight either way it goes. I think fight No. 4 will be the same as the first three. The only thing we don't know is the winner. For those who didn't see I, II or II, they're in luck. Can see IV. It's only fitting the fourth fight is at Staples Center in Los Angeles because it's the West Coast mecca of big events. From Kobe and the Lakers to Michael Jackson laying down there, what could be better than the final chapter of this fight to be in that arena?"

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.