One boxing's best rivalries ended in a split as Rafael Marquez stopped Israel Vazquez in the third round of a scheduled 12-round super bantamweight bout at the Staples Center Saturday night.

Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs) was in control from the outset and even scored a knockdown. The fight was stopped at 1:33 in the third round. With the win, Marquez evened the score with Vazquez (44-5, 33 KOs) at two bouts a piece.

As usual, the bout was bloody. And Vazquez, despite winning the second round on one of the judge's scorecards, was in trouble throughout and was cut badly around both of his eyes.

Will there be a fifth fight?

"I'd fight Vazquez a fifth time anytime," Marquez said. "He deserves it. He knows how much respect I have for him."

Vazquez acknowledged how much the cuts were effecting him.

"I would have liked to have won this to go up 3-1, but the cuts were not good," Vazquez said. "I gave it all I had."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

In an earlier bout, two of boxing's best bantamweights hooked up for a 12-round war. Yonnhy Perez (20-0-1, 14 KOs) retained his IBF bantamweight title with a majority decision draw against Abner Mares (20-0-1, 13 KOs).

The judges scored the bout 114-114 twice in favor of both fighters and 113-115.

"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."

Perez' statements are debatable, especially since he got rocked hard in the 12th around.

Mares was equally disppointed in the decision.

@NewsdaySports

"I'm very said. The fans know who won the fight," Mares said. "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."