This weekends most "overlooked" title fight is the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title bout between Panamanian Roberto Vasquez (32-5, 22) and Filipino John Mark Apolinario (17-2-1, 4), that is scheduled to take place in the Argentinian city of Colón. As with many "interim" title bouts, the fight really lacks too much to get excited about, however could it be a sleeper classic?
With the belt being a vacant one, both men are challenger, however one man has a bit more pedigree to than the other, in fact poor John Mark Apolinario is so unknown that...well I'd never heard of him (or most of his opponents) until I saw this bout listed. So lets look at him first.
Aged 22 the Filipino challenger John Mark Apolinario has been a professional for almost 6 years (making his debut on November 25th 2006) and since then has compiled a list of fights against very limited opposition.
Apolinario's career started well as he ran up 11 straight wins in the first 15 months of his career before suffering a loss to the novice Jessie Albaracin (who would later go on to claim the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title). Sadly for Apolinario this loss soon put the breaks on his rapid climb up the rankings and a year later his record fell to 12-2 as he suffered a stoppage loss to Marvin Tampus.
Since the loss to Tampus, Apolinario's career has recovered somewhat with a several wins, including a notable one in 2010 which saw him claiming his first professional title, the WBO Oriental Super Flyweight title. As well as the wins Apolinario also has a draw on his record, coming in November 2010 to the tough Armando Casa.
Whilst the highlight of Apolinario's career so far may have been the WBO Oriental Super Flyweight title fight, the most interesting thing about his record was actually his last fight. Last time out Apolinario scored a 2nd round TKO over Menard Zaragosa...who had to run off to the toilet forcing the referee to end the bout whilst Zaragosa, relieved himself. Worryingly however this means Apolinario has only fought 2 rounds in the last year and in fact Apolinario has only fought 12 rounds (2 bouts) in the past 24 months!
From what I can see with Apolinario we have an inactive fighter, who lacks any power and has only really been beating very low level domestic opponents. It's with good reason that Boxrec.com rate him as the 71st Bantamweight on the planet (the 12th in his homeland!) and whilst I'll admit I've not seen footage of him, it's fair to say that he's not fought the competition with which to really create a true opinion of just how good he actually is. The lost to Tampus, his most notable opponent so far is perhaps the most telling result with Tampus himself losing 7 of 13 since then.
With the Filipino being pretty unknown it's fair to admit that the co-challenger Roberto Vasquez is much more known and well respected. The 29 year old Panamanian has been a professional for over 11 years and despite starting his career with a loss (a controversial one to Angelo Dottin) he has really forged a solid record.
After losing his debut on points, Vasquez would go 6 years before suffering his next loss. In that time he would record 23 straight victories including 16 by T/KO. Vasquez wasn't just beating scrubs though, he was quickly rising through the rankings and stopping the likes of Beibis Mendoza to claim the WBA World Light Flyweight title, a title he would defend 3 times before moving up to Flyweight.
After moving up to Flyweight in 2006 Vasquez swiftly moved on to the title scene and claimed the interim WBA World Flyweight title thanks to a victory over Japanese fighter Takefumi Sakata. Sadly a rematch the following year saw Sakata earn some measure of revenge by defeating Vasquez to end the Panamanian's long unbeaten run.
Since losing to Sakata, Vasquez has had mixed fortune winning 8 of his subsequent 11 bouts. Whilst his wins have come at a "lesser" level two of his losses have come at the highest level thanks to Hugo Fidel Cazares and Drian Francisco, however his most recent loss, to Oscar Gonzalez is highly debatable.
Vasquez is currently on a 2 fight winning streak, including a notable victory over Mario Briones, however both of those fights too place well above the Bantamweight limit. It's fair to assume that that if Vasquez has any real problem with this bout, it may well be in making the 118lbs limit as I don't think Apolinario will have anything to worry Vasquez.
In terms of Vasquez as a fighter, the southpaw is a hard hitting fighter who despite having been down a number of times in his career is durable with only the monstrously hard hitting Drian Francisco managing to stop him. It's fair to say that Vasquez will bring the pressure here and look to take Apolinario out within 6 rounds, he certainly has the power to do it and certainly has the experience to know that Apolinario isn't going to be able to throw anything new at him.