Tonight, Timothy Bradley (30-0-0, 12 KOs) defends his WBO Welterweight title against Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. This will be Bradley’s second defense of the WBO title. Marquez is looking to win a title in a fifth division.
The biggest wins of both fighters’ careers came against Manny Pacquiao. However, both were under totally different circumstances.
On June 9, 2012, Bradley scored a very controversial split decision win over Pacquiao. It was clear to all but two judges that Pacquiao had done more than enough to win. Unfortunately for Bradley, he was the recipient of criticism over the decision when the focus should have been on the incompetent judging.
Marquez scored a memorable one punch knockout win over Pacquiao on December 8, 2012. Marquez’s win was not without controversy. His association with former steroid supplier Angel “Memo” Heredia along with an increase in muscle mass has raised numerous red flags.
This bout poses an interesting clash of styles. At 30, Bradley is the younger fighter. He typically throws a high volume of punches. While Bradley won’t be confused with a moving boxer, he can use his legs to create distance and angles. He should have the faster hands. At 40, Marquez is the older fighter. He is the technically superior fighter. He will also be the harder puncher. Marquez is also better defensively than Bradley.
The big unknown in this bout is exactly well Bradley can still take a punch. In his last bout against Ruslan Provodnikov, Bradley was dropped in the first round and likely fought the remainder of the bout with a concussion. He has no recollection of rounds two through eleven and suffered from post concussion syndrome following the fight. In fact, his trainer, Joel Diaz, said Bradley was still off balance when training camp started.
Under normal circumstances, this would lead me to wonder how well Bradley could take a punch. Being placed in the ring with a fighter like Marquez who is working with a guy like Heredia, and my concerns are multiplied. Pacquiao had a very good chin. However, the way Marquez stopped him was scary. Bradley likely has a damaged chin.
To win this fight Bradley is going to have to pitch the proverbial perfect game. He will need to move and give Marquez angles. Bradley will need to land quick combinations while moving away. He will have to be very weary of the dangerous Marquez counters.
As for Marquez, he needs to establish his jab and try to turn this into a brawl. Lost in his bout with Pacquiao is the fact that Marquez was losing at the time of the knockout. Pacquiao was landing more and more at will and starting to bust up Marquez. Granted, Bradley does not have the power of Pacquiao, he does have the ability to land at the same rate. Marquez wants Bradley to stay flat footed and trade. This will give Marquez his best opportunity to land hard, counter shots.
I could see Bradley boxing his way to a decision win. However, I simply do not know what, if anything, his chin has left after the brutal Provodnikov fight. I do know this version of Marquez is a big time power puncher as evidenced in his bout with Pacquiao. Marquez is going to land something and I am not sure Bradley will be able to take it. I will take Marquez by fourth round stoppage.