Timothy Bradley put his money where his mouth was and kept his word when he put it all on the line against Ruslan Provodnikov in a "Fight of the Year" candidate this past March. He defended his WBO welterweight title in warrior-like fashion, being staggered numerous times in a toe-to-toe slugfest and forced to take a knee in the final seconds of Round 12 before being awarded a hard-earned unanimous decision. Juan Manuel Marquez also delivered on his commitment to finally capture victory against nemesis Manny Pacquiao. Following three closely contested battles with the Filipino star, the results were conclusive and undeniable in their fourth fight as Marquez knocked Pacquiao out cold last December.
As Bradley and Marquez now prepare to face each other on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, one has to wonder – what kind of encore presentation can we realistically expect from them?
Bradley (30-0, 12 KO's), who was fighting for the respect that was denied him after winning a controversial split decision over Pacquiao in June 2012, suffered some physical damage from the Provodnikov war.
"A few weeks after the fight, I was still affected by the damage that was done. My speech was a little bit off and I was slurring a little bit. After about two months, I got my speech back and I got my wits about me," Bradley told Max Kellerman during the latest installment of HBO's "Face Off".
The 30-year old fighter, a traditional boxer who employs speed and combinations rather than a power-punching brawler, admitted during the program that he knows he can't fight Marquez the way he did against Provodnikov.
"Marquez is too smart and he has a lot of power in his punches so I can't fight a dumb fight. I have to be smart," said Bradley.
This likely means that Bradley will revert to his boxing ways and try not to go to war with the tactical Marquez.
Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KO's) is coming off the biggest win of his career. While he always gave Pacquiao a very tough fight in their first three meetings, Marquez never came close to putting him on the canvas, let alone out cold face-first on the canvas. The Mexican warrior carried a great deal of resentment for being denied a victory in any of the previous three fights against Pacquiao, particularly the November 2011 contest that was awarded to the Filipino star by majority decision.
It had become a personal mission of Marquez's to capture the victory that eluded him. Now that he has finally obtained it, and in such dramatic fashion, the 40-year old Marquez has opted to forego retirement and make an attempt at becoming a five-division world champion by adding the welterweight strap to his featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight and light welterweight collection of titles.
In the debut episode of "24/7: Bradley-Marquez", Marquez described his victory over Pacquiao as "the best thing that's ever happened to me in this sport." Many observers agree, making his decision to return to the ring to fight Bradley as opposed to retiring at the highest point of his career somewhat puzzling.
Now that neither fighter is being fueled by the same degree of motivation heading into this fight as their proceeding bouts, this could very well be an underwhelming HBO pay-per-view main event. While both men certainly have unusually high levels of determination and will, there may not be enough intensity left in this one to justify shelling out more money for a second of three pay-per-view broadcasts over a 10-week period.
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