Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez fought more or less like a 40-year-old challenger against World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight (147 pounds) champion Timothy Bradley Jr. When the smoke of battle cleared, Marquez complained about the decision more or less like a 10-year-old.
Indeed, some things never change. Branded a poor loser after losing on points to Manny Pacquiao in their second meeting in March 2008, Marquez was singing the same sour notes after Bradley was awarded a split-decision victory. “To be here in [Las] Vegas, I have to get a knockout to get the victory,” said Marquez in the post-fight conference. “I need to be more afraid of the judges than my opponent.”
Bradley could only exclaim “wow” upon hearing Marquez’s remarks. Truth be told, Bradley outfoxed Marquez by safely boxing at a safe distance. Bradley kept Marquez at bay with an active left jab and cleverly avoided extended exchanges at close range. While the hit-and-run strategy in boxing is always frowned upon, it is the most effective approach against a counter- puncher like Marquez. Marquez is at his best against head-on sluggers and is at his most vulnerable against slick boxers. By stepping back after throwing one-two combinations, Bradley prevented Marquez from launching any significant counterpunch. So slick was Bradley’s movements that there were occasions when Marquez looked agonizingly slow.
Marquez clearly miscalculated Bradley. Marquez agreed to take on Bradley on the belief that the American has become a trigger-happy slugger. While known as a boxer, Bradley has lately adopted a more aggressive approach in an attempt to convince critics who thought he got lucky against Pacquiao in June 2012. In March, Bradley engaged Russian Ruslan Provodnikov in a slugfest and nearly got knocked out in the 12th round before escaping with a decision victory. Bradley went against the orders of his trainer Joel Diaz in the Provodnikov fight and almost paid the price.
Unknown to many, Bradley sustained a concussion in the Provodnikov fight and suffered from headaches and slurred speech for the next two months. The medical scare convinced Bradley to abandon slugging and rededicate himself to the stick-and-move style. Thus, instead of seeing the new and aggressive Bradley, Marquez ended up facing the old version of the WBO welterweight champion. “The Ruslan fight, I felt dumb,” Bradley told the Associated Press. “This fight, I had to fight smart. I know the fans would be upset because I boxed and didn’t exchange, but I had to fight this way to win.”
Judge Glenn Feldman scored the fight for Marquez, 115-113, but his score was overturned by Judges Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse Jarman who both scored the fight for Bradley with scores of 115-113 and 116-112, respectively. While there were close rounds, the decision was generally accepted by the boxing populace.
Bradley raised his record to 31-0 with 12 knockouts by beating Marquez. While he earned new followers with the win, Bradley will have no choice but to take on Pacquiao again to erase the stench created by the result of their first meeting. Of course, to secure the return bout, Pacquiao will have to dispatch American Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios in their November 24 (Manila time) fight. The ball is now in Pacquiao’s court; the ‘Pacman’ has to prove that he still has what it takes to compete with the best in his weight class.
For Marquez, retiring from the fight game is the best move he can make. He looked old and slow against Bradley and a rematch with the WBO champ is not likely to sell owing to the generally dull nature of the first fight. Marquez has been talking about walking away from the sport even before the Bradley fight and it will serve him well to make good on the promise. Marquez can retire and live with the fact that he lost his last fight on points against Bradley. Don’t expect a fifth fight with Pacquiao as the last thing Marquez wants is to retire after absorbing a loss to the fighter he hates the most.
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