A Legacy In Their Own Right
In 2012, the boxing world was shook to its very core, as one of it’s icons - its “pound for pound” champs - its future “Hall of Fame”’ers - shook the cold, boney hands of defeat not only once - but twice. Manny Pacquiao suffered a highly controversial and contentious split decision loss to Tim Bradley (30-0, 12 KO’s), a fight many thought the Filipino won comfortably. The backlash against Bradley was palpable, and where he should’ve revelled in fame and fortune, he was destined to wallow in infamy as a pariah. The second man to defeat Pacquiao was a very familiar foe, Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KO’s) had yet to defeat his long time rival on three previous occasions, but a stunning 6th round knockout secured this tetralogy’s place in history as one of the greatest of all time (2nd only to perhaps the thrilling Marquez-Vazquez saga). On October 12th, these two fearless conquerors wage war, and here we will see why this is one of 2013’s finest and most compelling bouts.
|Tim Bradley Jr.
||Juan Manuel Marquez
In what is a considerable age advantage, Tim Bradley holds 10 years against his much battleworn opponent. Indeed Marquez only recently stepped into his 40’s, a rare and ancient age for a man who began his career as a Featherweight. While speed is one of the first traits to fall in the ascendency to old age, Marquez has preserved much of his reflexes, which has remained crucial to his counter-punching style. Added to this we have a very real, decimating power, as wickedly demonstrated against his ring rival Pacquiao in December of last year.
So how will this power affect Tim Bradley? It would be unfair to call Bradley’s chin brittle or even average. But he has tasted canvas numerous times, both as an amateur and a professional. Indeed his most recent bout with Ruslan Provodnikov was a torrential storm of vicious, clubbing punches, that had Tim both dazed and down.
Reach may just present itself as an issue for Marquez however. With a 2 inch advantage to his foe, Marquez may find it difficult to land the crisp uppercuts he is so famous for. Indeed whipping a jab then an uppercut against a man who chooses to box effectively at range may prove very futile and frustrating. Tim however has shown a propensity to mid range and in-fighting, even so far as getting a reputation as a man that “uses his head”. Tim Bradley’s great chromed dome could almost deserve it’s own entry, such is its lethality in the ring. Just ask Devon Alexander’s eye how it feels towards that bulbous, black bludgeoning device.
Aside from an inch here or there (get your minds out of the gutter), there’s very little to separate this two men in terms of the gifts nature has bestowed upon them. Tim has some semblance of a range advantage but unless he fights to draw out the best of that, then it will have little effect on the viciously sharp counterpunches of the Mexican dynamite.
|Tim Bradley Jr.
||Juan Manuel Marquez
|30 (12 KO's)
||55 (40 KO's)
From the off we can see a great disparity in experience between these two in the professional rankings. Marquez has been battle tested against numerous hall of famers for nearly two decades, faulting on just a few occassions. Indeed many of his losses are controversial, close affairs, including a DQ loss on his debut, a highly disputed decision loss to Freddie Norwood; a points loss to Indonesian Featherweight staple Chris John, which was riddled deducted points and some foul play; and finally 3 bouts with Manny Pacquiao that gave 2 crimson strikes and a disinterested blue against Marquez’ boxrec name. His clearest loss undoubtedly came against Floyd Mayweather, who physically and technically dominated his much smaller foe.
Tim Bradley on the other hand, is undefeated, but we must take that highly praised trait with a pinch of salt. Surrounded by controversy ever since, Tim Bradley won a decision over Manny Pacquiao in 2012 in the eyes of 2 judges and perhaps a handful of eager to remind us writers - such is the notoriety around this subject that a few who claim Tim to have “handily” beaten Pacquiao now wear their analysis as a badge of pride on the subject. Whatever your thoughts on the bout itself, the facts point towards a tainted victory.
To add another taint, Tim Bradley went to war with fringe contender Ruslan Provodnikov in a fight that was widely seen as an easy defense for Bradley and his recently acquired WBO belt. What ensued was a “Fight of the Year” frontrunner, an epic tussle that began and ended with Tim Bradley getting his face splattered by relentless pressure punching from his unheralded opponent. During the middle rounds, Tim’s coveted boxing skills took over, and won him just enough rounds to squeak a decision. There were many times during the bout that one could argue Tim should’ve taken an extra knee, or even been stopped, but his heart and determination willed him on to a disputed win.
The lasting damage from this battle was evident, but the rewards weren’t far behind either. Bradley discusses candidly his concussion and slurred speech in HBO’s reality show “24/7”, both of which apparently persisted for 2 months after this clash. Tim’s decision to engage in a war was no accident, nor one based on tactical ignorance. By and large, it was his pursuit of fans in the wake of all time low popularity following the Pacquiao win that lead him to fighting so uncharacteristically. Will he make the same mistake twice against a much sharper, deadlier Marquez? Unlikely, but such is Tim’s unpredictability, one would not hold it against him.
In amateur terms Marquez holds two Golden Gloves tournament victories, but aside from that wasted little time in the padded hat and shirt. Like many Mexicans, he learned and honed his craft within the ring, and has can be seen, has racked up nearly twice as many fights and rounds as his foe. Bradley had a decent unpaid career, and was close to making the Olympic team, save for a harsh defeat against Vanes Matirosyan (in which Bradley was knocked down twice).Tim arguably has a better technical understanding of the sweet science, but Marquez has a far superior knowledge when it comes to executing his style, honed by over 400 professional rounds in the square circle.
That PED Issue..
I do my best to stay away from issues such as drug testing in my articles, because why I take a deep interest in the subject, my knowledge has too many holes to write a credible and non-libellous piece. Those who know me are aware that I take the role of an “Inquisitor” when it comes to drug testing, almost a medieval approach in that I am highly suspecting of all elite boxers unless they make great means and efforts to prove that they are, in fact, “clean”. I would never dare say Marquez is a roid cheat, but his intensely improved strength and resilience, coupled with his association with a known doper in Memo Heredia, leaves my suspicions continually spiked.
Added to this, there was much attention given to the Mexicans stalling over accepting a particular testing agency for this fight. Bradley insisted on VADA, which uses Carbon Isotope Ratio testing to help detect fake testosterone sources within the body. This alone puts it leagues ahead of other testing agencies which claim to be "Olympic Style". This testing service however was rejected by Marquez, after a 3 week period of discussion, a period in which many designer drugs can easily wear off. In the end, Bradley is still undergoing VADA testing, whereas Marquez seems to be undergoing the basic states regime. To give both sides, there is a more personal reason Marquez may be avoiding VADA - because Victor Conte, former co-worker but now bitter rival of Memo Heredia, is a strong proponent of its services. This may simply be a loyalty check rather than any wrongdoing. This begs the question - surely a clean sport is more important than the pathetic disputes of two bitching scientists?
Marquez may very well be a far more determined character than ever in his old age, wishing to cement his legacy with big, knockout wins over the best of the best. In our sport however, so rife and ridden with corruption, like bacteria in a gangrenous wound, the best approach is a fierce and direct one. Do we chop off the limb to save the body? Do we allow PED’s as a whole, or enforce nationwide 365/24/7 testing on all fighters, whatever the cost? The debate is polemic, and best saved for those who may have a direct impact on any changes.
So what will happen?
Rightly so, this bout is widely viewed as a 50/50 contest, with both men bringing excellence to the table. Bradley has shown an unerring ability to eek out a win, no matter the situation. Juan Manuel Marquez has dragged himself up off the canvas EIGHT times in his professional career in order to continue, and has one of the greatest recovery abilities in the sport. Bradley’s power is almost inconsequential - his size alone and physical strength may be enough to keep Marquez honest in some of the in range fighting, but the slicing hooks and uppercuts of the Mexican will just become too much to weather.
Marquez may likely struggle for the first few rounds. Tim will establish an early lead with his jab, because although I feel he lost the Provodnikov fight, I believe he has the wits about him not to engage in the same suicidal mission with Marquez. That said, he will box, use his range, pinch a round or two in his classic, “boring” style. If he forces Marquez to press the action, then Tim will find himself at an advantage; because of this, there is a risk that this fight may be somewhat of a stinker. The case against that? You rarely get dispassionate performances from men with such deep rooted interest and heart pulsing through the sport.
The middle to later rounds will see Marquez and his power come into full play. He will time Bradley’s jabs, land brutal counters during any inside work that Tim may try to bring into play. We may very well see a cut open on either man, and this will increase urgency. Urgency can only favour the power puncher, and Marquez will take control to score a late knockout, if not winning the contest through scoring more meaningful shots.
Whilst I’m taking a very pro-Marquez stance in this write up, I give Tim Bradley every chance of victory here. He’s shown one of the key traits necessary for long term success in boxing - adaptability. That may prove to be the game changer for Tim in this tussle of elites - the winner of which will gain immense respect from the boxing community and media as a whole. Victory for either will be a stellar name on an already stacked record, as well as near guarantee of being placed in the boxing’s coveted top 3 pound for pound. This name will cement their wins over Pacquiao as being far more than a fluke, and give them credence independent of that aging icon. One man is destined to fall short on Saturday night, but the other will have his hand raised high, and then take a giant leap along the path of a legacy of their own.