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Israel Vazquez expected to announce return Thursday

May 26, 2009 |  4:25 pm

Israel Huntington Park boxer Israel Vazquez has suffered through a career-threatening third detached retina in his right eye since his compelling third fight with Mexico's Rafael Marquez in March 2008 -- the bout named the fight of the year by the Boxing Writers Assn. of America.

The injury required extensive medical treatment and incredible patience by world super-bantamweight champion Vazquez  (43-4, 31 KOs). When The Times chatted with him last year, Vazquez was worried, but hopeful that he would continue boxing.

On Thursday, he's scheduled a major announcement in a telephone conference call, and sources close to the situation have told The Times that Vazquez is expected to say he'll fight again.

When and against whom are lingering questions. His incredibly dramatic series with Marquez -- clinched in a split-decision triumph last year with a final-second, 12th-round knockdown -- provided heroic action, but some boxing observers have pushed for a fourth fight never to happen.

"They'll kill each other," one boxing scribe told me after the third bout.

But Marquez, brother of world lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, will be ready if that's the plan. On Saturday, Rafael Marquez scored a third-round TKO over Jose Francisco Mendoza in Mexico.

A fourth bout would certainly fill a venue like Staples Center. Again, the question that remains: How much is too much?

-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: Referee Pat Russell raises the arm of Israel Vazquez following his victory over Rafael Marquez on March 1, 2008 in Carson. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press