They almost gave us a heart attack, the judges, after the main event at the Thomas and Mack Center, in Las Vegas, on Saturday night.
Timothy Bradley boxed Juan Manuel Marquez' head off, using smart movement and an educated jab to win handily on my card, but we all know that we can expect judging lunacy in boxing, the theater of the unexpected.
Bradley took a split decision over Marquez, with judge Feldman having it 115-113 for Marquez, Hoyle seeing it 115-113 for Bradley and Morse Jarman deeming it 116-112 for Bradley.
Yes, Glen Feldman liked Marquez' work, and there will be howls of protest in some quarters at his card. I saw it 7-4-1, or 8-3-1, or even 9-3 Bradley. But Bradley perhaps moved more than Feldman liked, and often judges like the guy who presses the action for more minutes of a round. It is debateable whether this win brings Bradley the pound for pound love he seeks, but it really should.
HBO PPV showed the scrap, which had the WBO welter crown up for grabs. Bradley entered a complicated sort. He received death threats after beating Manny Pacquiao, and then was concussed and compromised for months after his last bout, against Ruslan Provodnikov, on March 16. Bradley (30-0 entering) didn't win fans hand over fist with his complaints that he'd been given the controversial decision; some interpreted his statements as akin to the complaints of a megabucks lottery winner.
Marquez (55-6-1) entered still on high from his December triumph, his drop and stop special against Pacman. His affiliation with the controversial conditioning coach Memo Heredia hung a cloud over him in some eyes, with some wondering how he'd transformed his physique so radically after so many years without resorting to illiicits.
In the first, the 40-year-old Marquez looked sharp with his left hand. His hooks landed clean a few times on Bradley, who looked to move laterally, and not get into a tradefest. In the second, the 30-year-old Bradley went low with a left early. His quick feet helped him, in that Marquez had a hard time getting a bead on him. Bradley landed a sharp right at the bell, with JMM on the ropes. In the third, it was a tight round. Neither man wanted to open up, leave himself open to being countered.
In the fourth, Bradley finished the round feeling groovy, his legs helping him to frustrate the Mexican. He went in and out more than side to side, mostly.
In the fifth, Bradley's jab kept Marquez at bay, and he'd move in with a power punch, and then scoot. Bradley looked tres confident by now.
In the sixth, the Bradley right stayed sharp. His movement confounded the Mexican. In the seventh, Bradley's movement made Marquez unable to catch him. In the eighth, Bradley's jab landed sharp and often. The right worked for JMM a few times, but then Bradley scored with his peppy jab. He even used a left hook which landed clean. In the ninth, the right landed a few times for Marquez, as he seemed to know that he needed to step it up. Bradley's jab was maybe his best punch. A Bradley right at 1:50 was the best of the night in the tenth. But he stayed smart, didn't get lured into a rumble after that. A sneaky left hook tagged JMM advancing at 50 seconds to go.
In the 11th, Bradley, in superb condition, kept moving and grooving. His jab kept JMM from exploding on him. But he wasn't busy and maybe lost the round.
In the 12th, Bradley kept on moving, moving, jabbing. But a sharp right by JMM had the crowd buzzing. Then Bradley landed a left hook, a nasty bit of business, with five seconds left, and had him on weak legs. We went to the card, with rightfully baited breath.
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Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?