This Saturday night, undefeated WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley and multi-division world champion Juan Manuel Marquez square off at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both fighters are coming off of big wins, with Marquez's KO over Manny Pacquiao being a bit more meaningful than Bradley's all-out war against Ruslan Provodnikov, which was a bit unnecessary and detrimental, but none-the-less entertaining as heck. Both fighters have been training, dieting, sacrificing, and strategically developing their game plans. Both fighters are relentless, fearless, determined, and 100% willing to lay it all out in the ring. A win for Timothy Bradley may double his fan-base and will build upon his legacy in boxing. A win for Juan Manuel Marquez makes him the first Méxican to win five world titles in five weight divisions.
What will set them apart? Let's break it down...
Timothy Bradley is undefeated and has fought the names of Kendall Holt, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, and Manny Pacquiao. His resume speaks for itself. The guy can definitely take a punch, as we saw in round 1 of the Kendall Holt fight, and the guy is not allergic to punishment as we saw the entire 12 rounds of the Ruslan Provodnikov fight. Bradley has speed, power, respectable footwork, and he is the younger man coming into the fight. He is an aggressive fighter with a concrete chin. He comes to fight, nothing more and nothing less, which sometimes results in losing focus during fights, disregarding corner advice, and falling into his opponent's game plan. Physically, he trains like an animal, is always in great body-building shape and cut-up like a bag of dope. Mentally, he seems to be carrying a chip and a boulder on his shoulder. His "smack talk" has been enjoyable for the fans, but not typical, and his cursing in public on HBO 24/7 is quite out of character for him. Also, there seems to be some friction in his camp with Tim's dad now doing the choreographed hand-punching, aka mitt work, and conducting after-hour training sessions. Has Joel Diaz lost control of his camp?
Juan Manuel Marquez is 55-6 and has fought EVERYBODY. He is a veteran from the old school and highly technical. He is one of the best counter punchers in the game, a pure boxer, and still a threat. His maturity, knowledge, and experience in the ring is undeniable. His biggest weakness may be his age. They say boxers slow down due to age, but veterans like Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, and Juan Manuel Marquez have offset the age factor by getting wiser and sharper in the ring. Physically, he has taken care of his body throughout his career, kept fit, and avoided brutal punishment in the ring. Mentally, the combined ring IQ of Marquez and his mastermind of a trainer, the legendary Nacho Beristain, is probably genius. The mutual respect between the two is admirable. Not even bringing in controversial Strength and Conditioning coach Angel Heredia could break their flow.
Tim Bradley is going to start off fast. Marquez will have to catch up, and when he does, Marquez will systematically and strategically break Tim down mentally and physically. Remember, Marquez allows a fighter to come forward. He will sit in the cut and he will let Tim let his hands go, but he is setting traps all the while. Marquez is the smarter fighter.
FINAL VERDICT: Marquez will win by Ring IQ