Giovanni Marquez shows power, honors roots
Raul Marquez's son Giovanni earns TKO victory in Houston debut
HOUSTON – The buzz grew steadily in the minutes before Giovanni Marquez made his hometown debut Friday night. His fight was scheduled in the middle of the boxing card, but rest assured he was viewed as the main event by the packed house at the Bayou City Event Center.
Marquez was fighting less than 30 miles away from his old high school and only eight miles away from the Rockets’ Toyota Center, his dream destination.
His abuelos and mom were in attendance, and so were dozens of relatives. In many ways this welterweight match was a family event, literally and figuratively. The son of world boxing champion and former Olympian Raul Marquez didn’t disappoint.
Giovanni dominated and punished Nicaragua’s Ariel Vazquez from the opening bell until the referee stopped the fight 2:52 into the second round. The fight may have been the reason everybody was there, but this performance was greater than the action in the ring.
This was about family and love, about Houston and hopes, about watching another Marquez chase boxing glory.
Giovanni Marquez brought the house down three times, beginning with his introduction at the side of his famous father and brothers. Soon after he walked through curtains at the corner of the ballroom, the crowd erupted when Vicente Fernandez’s Los Mandados started playing as the Marquez team strolled to the ring.
Los Mandados is the anthem of the Mexican immigrant, especially the undocumented. It’s about overcoming and fighting and refusing to be denied entry. The blows they give us are the blows we give back later, the song triumphantly states at the end.
Giovanni’s paternal grandparents and father crossed that U.S. border illegally more than four decades ago. By 1992 Raul Marquez epitomized the American dream as a member of the U.S. Olympic boxing team that included Oscar de la Hoya at the Barcelona Olympics.
Giovanni is emblematic of the immigrant’s dream, the reason our parents and grandparents cross that border from Mexico dreaming of a better life for their children and future grandchildren.
Each generation seems to think the next is somehow weaker and softer, especially as we grow out of some of the customs.
On Friday night, however, Giovanni returned to his roots in the ring and during his stroll to it with the late Vicente playing in the background.
The baby faced, good-looking kid from the Houston suburbs looked like a Mexican fighter. In other words, the 2021 Golden Gloves champ wasn’t afraid to exert his power and mix it up, as his father famously did two decades ago.
First, however, the Humble Summer Creek and Lone Star College graduate set the tone with Vicente and a tip to his roots.
“That’s a song that goes way back in our family culture,” Giovanni said. “My dad walked out to that song. My brother walked out to that song, and now I’m walking out to that song.
“I’m going to always walk out of that song because that song is very dear to our family because of the way my grandfather came here (from) Mexico, came to the U.S., the land of opportunity and to strive for success.”
Giovanni Marquez is on his way. He made his debut on a nationally televised card on SHOWTIME Boxing in March, earning the victory by decision. His second fight was under more modest circumstances available for $19.99 on a streaming service.
But it was home, and he answered some questions about his power.
Marquez, 21, knocked down Vazquez, 35, with a series of powerful blows late in the first round. Then he dispatched him in the second.
Giovanni Marquez shows power
“That feels good,” Giovanni said of the TKO. “There were already critics saying, ‘Does he have power?’ So I showed improvement from my first fight. Now I got my second fight, got the stoppage.
“I’m steadily improving. I’m a student of the game and I’m looking to get better and better each fight.”
Vazquez isn’t a household name or even a promising fighter. His record dropped to 15-36-3. Vazquez is a has-been who probably never was, but he had not been stopped via knockout over his previous seven matches.
“He lost, but he’s durable,” Raul Marquez said of Vazquez. “This is a guy you learn from him. I expected Giovanni to beat the crap out of him a couple rounds, but I really wanted the knockout.
“If Giovanni got the knockout that showed that he’s a prospect in the making because this guy doesn’t get stopped just by anybody. I told you the last seven fights went the distance. Giovanni stopped him. That shows that Giovanni is definitely the future, or has the potential to keep growing and be a prospect and go on to bigger things.”
Raul and Giovanni Marquez were grateful for the hometown love. Many in the crowd have been following the Marquez family since before Raul was fighting for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
Raul was moved near tears explaining how much it meant to him to have the local crowd showering his boy with love.
Giovanni celebrated the TKO by jumping on each of the corner ropes to acknowledge the different sections of the crowd.
Afterward, Giovanni allowed himself to dream a bit more. He wants a bigger stage in front of more of his hometown family.
“You gotta dream big,” Giovanni Marquez said. “Our dream as a team is to fight at Toyota Center and bring out the whole city, the whole Houston. … We support all the big teams, like the Astros, the Rockets, the Texans.
“I want to be a big name like that. And I want the whole city to come out. I want it to be an event, like when we have the Astros in the World Series, everyone supporting. I want this whole city to support me like that.”
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