This Saturday, October 12th, WBO world welterweight champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (30-0, 12 KO’s) defends the title against Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KO’s). The world title affair headlines HBO’s pay-per-view card from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The bout is Bradley’s second since winning the WBO strap from Manny Pacquiao over a year ago; a decision that was highly controversial, and resulted in allegations of a fix and even, according to Bradley, death threats against the newly crowned champion. What should have been the best time of his career came with the worst times attached.
With no rematch in the works and the dark Pacquiao cloud still hanging over his head, Bradley moved forward, and in March came out victorious in a fight of the year caliber bout with Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley took some brutally heavy shots at the bout’s opening rounds, but his heart and extreme physical conditioning got him through the distance, but not before he was officially dropped for an eight count in the fight’s closing seconds. A razor-thin unanimous decision allowed Bradley to remain undefeated, but also on his way to New York in the following days to see a concussion specialist. The Pacquiao controversy is still a topic of conversation going into this weekend’s bout, but Bradley’s performance against Provodnikov may have won him some fans and eased the Pac Man trash talk a little.
At 40 years old, 20 years as a pro, and four world titles under his belt, Juan Manuel Marquez has little to prove. A win over Bradley Saturday night would give him his fifth world title in five different weight divisions, a milestone even the great Julio Cesar Chavez couldn’t make. The future Hall of Famer has held world titles at featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight and light welterweight, and has also held what the WBA calls a “super” world title in the featherweight and lightweight divisions.
Marquez is coming off a spectacular knockout of Manny Pacquiao in December that breathed new life into the Mexican legend’s career and finally saw him get the best of the pound for pound great that he had been unable to defeat three times prior. Defeating Pacquiao wasn’t a surprise, as many felt he had won some…or all of their prior engagements. It was the one punch, lights-out exclamation point that “Dinamita” put on “Pac-Man” that made the victory that much more exciting after Marquez was falling behind on the scorecards.
Just as Bradley gained his share of critics for beating Pacquiao, Marquez went through his own share of controversy. His physical appearance on fight night, as well as the shocking one punch stopping power he displayed had PED accusations flying. Marquez critics include Bradley himself, who has made mention on HBO’s 24/7 program to the accusations.
This is an intriguing match up for the two fighters that left Manny Pacquiao at 0-2 in 2012. Despite his age, Marquez remains one of the best in the game. An effective counter puncher, he’s only been soundly beaten twice; by Chris John in 2006 and Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2009 and he’s never been stopped. How he deals with Bradley depends which Timothy Bradley shows up on fight night. An immobile Bradley, like the one that showed up for the Provodnikov fight, will make it relatively easy for Marquez to take a decision. If Bradley proved anything against Provodnikov, it’s that he can take one helluva shot, so Marquez pulling off a stoppage is unlikely.
This is a chance for Timothy Bradley to shine, but he took a real pounding in his last fight, and that has many curious to see how much that may have taken out of him. To be successful against Marquez, he needs to utilize his biggest assets; his speed and footwork, something he failed to do in his last bout which led to him taking those monstrous punches throughout. If he can use his boxing ability and give Marquez angles without getting stuck standing right in front him, he should be able to pull off a close decision and keep his undefeated record in tact.