By Mike Sloan ringside in Las Vegas: Timothy Bradley entered tonight’s contest with a lot to prove to the boxing world. As great a fighter as he is, “Desert Storm” has yet to solidify himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. Though he is sponsored by athletics giant Nike and others, he has yet to catch on with the casual fight fan; he’s far from a household name.
Most disagree with the victory he was awarded over Manny Pacquiao last June and even though he survived one of the most grueling battles in recent memory earlier this year – against Ruslan Provodnikov – he is largely overlooked. All that was supposed to change inside the Thomas & MackCenter against future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez, as long as he beat him.
After twelve rounds that were more like a chess match than the torrid barnburner most anticipated, Bradley had his hand raised in victory. He was given the win via split decision in a fight that he appeared to some to have won convincingly, though in reality several of the rounds were very close.
Bradley utilized a superb gameplan of sticking and moving and countering Marquez’ own counters behind his pesky left jab. Whenever the Mexican tried to goad Bradley into a firefight, the American simply circled out. Bradley tore dozens of punishing hooks to the body and popped Marquez with several counter right hands; Marquez was continuously second-guessing Bradley’s attacks.
Things weren’t as smooth as silk for Bradley, though. Marquez seemed to figure him out in the later rounds and began landing hard right and left hands upstairs. Some of Marquez’ punches stopped Bradley in his tracks, and it appeared as though Marquez was about to turn the fight in his favor at any second. But Bradley stuck to his guns and refused to engage in the sort of brutal war that has featured Marquez so many times throughout his career.
Marquez continued to press the action deep into the fight, but while he was unfurling several stinging shots to the head and body of his own, Bradley was always right there to quickly return the fire and then step out of harm’s way. The key weapon was Bradley’s annoying jab, a punch that routinely kept Marquez guessing and switching between gameplans.
Considering that Bradley intelligently decided to play it safe throughout the encounter, it left much to be desired in the eyes of many inside the Thomas & MackCenter. There were several lulls in the decibel level of the near-capacity crowd and when Bradley was announced as the victor, he was showered with boos, undoubtedly for preventing the fight from turning into a perilous slugfest.
In the end, the fight was extremely close but Bradley did enough to win the majority of the rounds. Judges Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse-Jarman scored it in favor of Bradley via tallies of 115-113 and 116-112, respectively. Those scores usurped the one turned in by Glenn Feldman, who favored Marquez 115-113. SecondsOut also had it 116-112 for Bradley. The general consensus around the media section sitting ringside and in the press room had Bradley winning, but there were quite a few media members who either had it a draw or for Marquez.