By Jake Donovan
The last several weeks of boxing have been overrun with fights that have proven to be as much of a mismatch in the ring as they were on paper. The lone exception was Julio Cesar Chavez Jr’s narrow win over Bryan Vera, a fight that was much closer than anticipated only due to the victor’s lackadaisical approach to the sport.
There is no such cause for a letdown in preparation from either participant in tonight’s event. Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez always both come to fight, and their pay-per-view headliner at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas is viewed as a virtually even fight.
Bradley arrives on stage on the strength of his courageous, off-the-canvas points win over Ruslan Provodnikov in their Fight of the Year contender this past March. The performance helped remove a lot of the bad taste from the mouths of those who still haven’t completely gotten over his controversial decision win over Manny Pacquiao last June.
There was no such doubt in Marquez’ most recent performance versus the Filipino, scoring a shocking one-punch 6th round knockout in their epic fourth fight last December. The feat gave the former four-division champ the type of career-defining win he had sought ever since his 12-round draw with Pacquiao way back in May ’04. Marquez was 0-2-1 in their series, with all three distance fights met with some sort of controversy, but he erased all doubt late last year to breathe new life into his career.
Can the 40-year old future Hall of Famer keep the momentum going, even on the heels of a 10-month layoff? Or is Bradley too young, too fresh and too good for the ring veteran?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes tonight’s action will go down.
B-SCENE PREDICTIONS – TIMOTHY BRADLEY vs. JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
“Bradley by split decision.”
- Damien Acevedo (Bradley SD)
“In my opinion Bradley-Marquez is the definition of a 50-50 fight. The question to me is will Bradley be the same after the beating he took in March against Ruslan Provodnikov and also will this be the fight that the 40-year-old Marquez finally shows his edge? I think Bradley will taste the canvas but I see him pulling off the slight upset by winning a split decision over Marquez.”
- Ryan Burton (Bradley SD)
“From the moment the fight was signed, my gut instinct all along was that Marquez is too much to handle for Bradley. As we inch closer to the opening bell, I suddenly feel like we’ve already seen the best of the legendary Mexican. Bradley showed heart and guile in his last fight; this time around, ring smarts will get him through the day, as he slows down the counterpunching Marquez just long enough to eke out yet another debatable decision.”
- Jake Donovan (Bradley SD)
“Even partisans in either camp can't claim their man is head-and-shoulders above the other, which should make for a good event and a possibly tight decision. I think Marquez is too precise and too persistent and will eventually get the better of things as the fight goes on. Can't see a one-punch KO happening, but a grinding decision in which he wins either seven or eight rounds? Absolutely.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Marquez UD)
“Yes I know Bradley is as tough a cookie as you will find. Yes I know he's known for a stout chin and never say die approach. Yes I know he "beat" Manny Pacquiao and gave us a Fight of the Year front runner is his fight with Ruslan Provodnikov. However, this is an entirely different beast. One that plays against whatever Bradley decides to bring. All out war? JMM can and will oblige and usually with devastating effects. He is amazingly accurate with his power shots and should Bradley throw caution to the wind Marquez will find him often. Bradley boxes? Again should be no issue as Marquez can adjust with the best of them and will likely set traps for Bradley. At some point something fight changing will land by Marquez and it will force the fight to end with Marquez the victor.”
- Ernest Gabion (Marquez TKO6)
“This fight is as close to a pick'em as we'll see all year. Despite Juan Manuel Marquez's recent power surge and Timothy Bradley's newfound taste for warfare, we might get a tactical affair on Saturday. In a fight that could go either way on the cards, I see Bradley narrowly outworking Marquez for his third consecutive and controversial decision win.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Bradley Dec)
“Bradley struggled to survive Provodnikov and has admitted to lingering effects. Marquez is smaller but more complete. His precision will eventually be too much because Bradley will ultimately engage. That favors the Mexican legend.”
- Cliff Rold (Marquez by KO)
“Marquez-Bradley is truly a pick em fight. Even at 40 years old, Marquez is still one of the best in the game and he'll prove it once again by defeating a younger and undefeated champion in Bradley. While Bradley has said he will not fight like he did against Provodnikov again, I think he'll still get pulled into trading with Marquez and that will be his demise. Things will start off slow but then heat up with Marquez stopping Bradley in the later rounds in a fun fight.”
- Luis "The Only Juan For Me" Sandoval (Marquez TKO10)
“This is one of the hardest title match-ups for predictions in recent memory. Marquez captured a win of the lifetime less than a year ago. Bradley has been mauled baly by Ruslan Provodnikov and was extra lucky to get an undeserved win of Manny Pacquiao. Experts say his style suites Maquez perfectly. Still I'm not yet sold on the Mexican legend. I suppose it'll be a very tough fight for Bradley but his activity, ring intelligence (not going wild against Marquez as he did versus Provodnikov) and his youth will clinch him a decision win in a mild upset.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Bradley Dec)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox