LAS VEGAS-WBO welterweight titlist Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley predicted his speed would be the difference against the always dangerous Juan Manuel Marquez and it was, as he won by split decision on Saturday in front of the usual hostile crowd.
“That win was my ticket to the boxing Hall of Fame,” said Bradley. “I beat a great champion.”
Bradley (31-0, 12 Kos; in picture by Chris Farina-Top Rank) managed to keep Marquez (55-7-1, 40 Kos) and the boisterous Mexican fans from gaining momentum. Every time it looked like Marquez was rallying, Bradley would shut down the crowd with some blazing combinations and great defense. The mostly Mexican crowd of 13,111 was not happy but Bradley was surely the superior boxer.
Bradley suffered heavy criticism, death threats and needed to go to a concussion clinic after suffering dizzy spells following his last fight, on March 16. It was Bradley who made Marquez dizzy with his ability to slip punches and fire lightning combinations.
Still, Marquez felt he was the victor.
“I came to win. The judges took it away from me. I’ve been robbed six times in my career,” said Marquez, 40, after the fight.
Marquez caught Bradley with a right uppercut for the best punch of the first round. Bradley was able to attack the body in round one but there were few punches thrown as both seemed to want the other to begin the mayhem.
They ended the second round furiously with Bradley and Marquez exchanging blinding punches before the bell. Bradley had a great round as his speed seemed to bother Marquez especially when they freely exchanged.
Marquez connected on two long right hand counters as Bradley continued to jab in round three. Bradley was forced to mix up his jabs and not allow Marquez to land the deadly counter right.
Bradley had a good round four with effective body shots and blinding punches that Marquez tried to counter. The speedy champion showed off his ability to slip punches and keep away from the Marquez uppercuts. A few landed but nothing caught Bradley solid.
Speed was separating Bradley from Marquez, who couldn’t seem to get close enough to utilize his experience. A left uppercut by Marquez in round five resulted in another furious answer from Bradley, who stuck his tongue out to emphasize he was having fun.
Marquez caught Bradley with a counter left uppercut, the punch Bradley worked on avoiding. Luckily for him he didn’t absorb all of the impact.
Mexico’s Marquez couldn’t seem to catch up to the quick feet and hands of Palm Spring’s Bradley. Jabs and more jabs caused a slight swelling on Marquez’ right eye in round seven. In round eight Marquez caught the WBO champion with a couple of left hooks but Bradley retaliated with a blinding one-two.
Just as it looked like Bradley was taking over the fight Marquez rallied back with some powerful left hooks. Then a lead right connected on Bradley’s head, but he was not hurt. It may have surprised most of Marquez’s fans who expected the Mexican great to knock out Bradley like he knocked out Pacquiao last year. They traded more blazing punches but it was the Mexican fighter’s round in the ninth.
The Palm Springs fighter poured on the speed in round 10 with some blistering combinations. A right hand turned Marquez around but he survived the big blows.
Marquez turned up the heat in round 11 and scored some combinations against the fast moving Bradley. A big left hook by Bradley wowed the crowd but it was the only significant punch from the champion. Marquez seemed to know it was a close fight and slipped into attack mode.
Perhaps knowing he was losing the fight Marquez entered the final round more aggressively as Bradley slipped into a defensive mode. Bradley landed a nice right hand but a left hook by Marquez connected. In the final 20 seconds both exchanged furiously again with Bradley nearly dropping Marquez with a perfect left hook. Marquez barely kept on his feet. It was the last punch of the fight and the most telling.
One judge, Glenn Feldman, scored it 115-113 for Marquez, but the other two judges, Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse Jarman, scored it 115-113 and 116-112 respectively for Bradley.
“It was a perfect fight. I gave him a boxing lesson. Everything worked. My jab worked over and over. There were a lot of missed punches,” said an excited Bradley.
Bradley’s trainer Joel Diaz was squeamish for a few rounds when the Palm Springs fighter decided to exchange.
“The game plan was not to be reckless. Marquez is hard with exchanges. Twice I told Bradley to knock it off. I told him to box,” Diaz said.
Bradley could only smile.
“I always fight for the fans,” he said.
Now maybe the Palm Springs prizefighter will get the respect due after defeating Pacquiao and Marquez?
Mexico’s Orlando Salido (40-12-2, 28 Kos) recaptured the WBO featherweight title with a seventh round knockout over Puerto Rico’s self-acclaimed gay prizefighter Orlando Cruz (20-3-1, 10 Kos). But it was an easy victory as Cruz withstood some punishing blows to the body and head until an overhand right caught Cruz on the jaw followed by a left uppercut. Cruz could not beat referee Russell Mora’s count at 1:05 of round seven.
“Cruz is strong, punches hard and moves around the ring really well. I had to fight with intelligence,” said Salido, who lost the featherweight title last January to Riverside’s Mikey Garcia. “My career is on a rollercoaster up and down. I won my fourth championship.”
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko (1-0) proved he didn’t need any pro experience to beat Mexicali’s Jose Ramirez (25-4, 15 Kos) by knockout at 2:59 of round four. A left to the body collapsed Ramirez twice. The Ukrainian had 400 amateur fights before turning professional. He wins a regional featherweight title. “I knew I hurt him bad with punches to the body,” said Lomachenko, who is in the same weight division as Cuba’s featherweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux. “I have a great amount of respect for Rigondeaux. I need to take a few more fights first.”
Sean Monaghan (19-0, 12 Kos) bludgeoned Anthony Smith (14-2, 10 Kos) until referee Tony Weeks stopped the light heavyweight fight at 2:39 of round three.
Canada’s Mikael Zewski (21-0, 16 Kos) forced Riverside’s Albert Herrera (9-10-1) to stop at the end of round five with a severely injured nose.
Arizona’s heavy-handed Trevor McCumby (13-0) survived a knockdown from West Virginia’s Eric Watkins (10-5-1) to win a light heavyweight bout by unanimous decision. It was a rematch of a year ago, won by McCumby, who trains in Oxnard, Calif.
Brad Solomon (21-0, 8 Kos) used a solid game plan to defeat southpaw Kenny Abril (14-7-1, 7 Kos) after eight rounds of a welterweight fight.