It wasn't very pretty, nor was it terribly exciting, but it was effective enough to merit WBO welterweight title holder Timothy Bradley 31-0 (12) a split decision victory over former four division champ Juan Manuel Marquez 55-7-1 (40) this past weekend.
The fight plan that Bradley executed versus Marquez was based on two undeniable premises: 1) it's well known that Marquez isn't at his best when he has to fight as the aggressor and force the tempo and combat and: 2) Bradley possessed the faster hands and feet. And if you want to add a third factor into the equation you could also assume that Bradley knew there was virtually no chance in the world that he was going to stop Marquez, based on Marquez never being stopped in 63 pro bouts and Bradley only winning inside the distance 12 times in 31 pro bouts. Therefore it was easy for Bradley to realize that moving and boxing Marquez was the way to go.
So in essence, Bradley figured if he could utilize the only clear advantage he held while at the same time inducing Marquez to fight a style in which he's the least effective and proficient, the fight would most likely go his way. I scored it 6-5-1 (and that's after giving Marquez both the 11th and 12th rounds) Bradley, and if forced to score the even round for one fighter I'd lean towards Bradley based on him being busier. Granted, activity alone isn't enough to favor the round for one fighter over the other, but Marquez just wasn't doing enough and Bradley was doing more of what he wanted than the opposite. And yes, I scored the 12th round for Marquez. He won 95% of it and I couldn't swing it to Bradley based on one left hook with seconds remaining in the round. No way in my mind did that single hook offset what Marquez did throughout the round up until that point.
For the better part of 12 rounds Bradley moved, jabbed, flurried and boxed without a single lapse in concentration. And just when Marquez thought Timothy was laying back and looking to get away, Bradley stood his ground and traded with Marquez. Sometimes he got the better of it and other times Marquez's power advantage swayed the exchange in his favor. The point is Bradley mixed it up more and every time it appeared that Marquez was ready to get off, Bradley used his legs and forced Marquez to have to work his way back into position. That said, Marquez did have his moments and rounds. It was a tough fight to score and I suppose if you give Marquez the benefit of the doubt in every close round, it could've been scored a draw. However, Bradley's hand and foot speed along with his activity slightly offset Marquez's power and sometimes effective aggression.
Now that Bradley has eliminated Marquez, he's in line with about five or six other upper-tier fighters and title-holders to get the next shot at Floyd Mayweather and earn the biggest purse of their career. The problem with Bradley is the fact that he doesn't make for an exciting fight at all. In reality he didn't do or show the fans anything to suggest that he could be competitive with Mayweather. In his last three fights against Manny Pacquiao, Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez, Bradley has scored decision victories. Yet there's probably a significant number of observers that believe he's 0-3 or at best 1-2. Therein lies the problem. If he can't conclusively beat Pacquiao, Provodnikov or Marquez in the public's eye over 36 rounds of fighting, how could anyone make a case for him giving Mayweather a good scare, let alone upset him?
Oh, but we are talking about the best fight hyper and promoter in boxing, Floyd Mayweather. Remember, Floyd loves fighting undefeated fighters and being first to spot their perfect record. In his defense Bradley has put together a pretty good resume having scored high profile victories over the then undefeated up and comers Lamont Peterson and Devon Alexander in addition to winning high profile bouts over Pacquiao, Provodnikov and Marquez in consecutive fights.
Don't be surprised if Bradley's name begins to be mentioned a lot in the next couple months as Mayweather's next opponent. Unfortunately, Bradley doesn't do one single thing as a fighter that would trouble Mayweather, not to mention he's the smaller man. Bradley is a good boxer but he's not spectacular and he isn't a big puncher, so there's no chance in the world he could force Floyd to do one thing he didn't want to. His hands are pretty quick, but Floyd is quicker and more accurate.
Bradley's showing against Marquez wasn't all that impressive or memorable, but he did win and got the job done. He no doubt longs for that lottery payday that all contenders and title-holders long for. Mayweather is the fighter he needs to fight in order to make that dream a reality, and he just may have done enough against Marquez to have gotten Floyd's attention.
In fact, I'm sure he did.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com