by Cliff Rold
“Victory. It is every boxer’s most essential objective, even if the greatest triumphs, for any number of reasons, are sometimes shadowed by that most fundamental of questions: what comes next?”
And with that taste of melodrama against a backdrop of slow motion, the seductive intonations of Mr. Naomi Watts brings us to the commercial at hand.
“This is Bradley-Marquez, 24/7.”
The first of two planned episodes in preparation for a pay-per-view showdown between WBO Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley and Mexican living legend of the moment Juan Manuel Marquez, the story begins with Bradley reflecting on his controversial win over Manny Pacquiao to take his belt.
Bradley reflects that he thought he’d be on Oprah for winning (Oprah’s not a show anymore but, hey, she has a network no one watches unless Lance Armstrong is on) and thought he won 8-4. Bradley’s Dad said he was ready to fight for his son and his wife laments the struggle of seeing him denied his moment.
It’s good TV. Bradley has always come across as a class act. He wasn’t responsible for the judges and took more heat than was fair.
The scene shifts to Marquez, leading quickly to his fourth showdown with Pacquiao. The 2012 Fight of the Year even looks badass in slow motion highlights. Marquez’s third round knockdown is reviewed as is Pacquiao’s avenging of the slight in the fifth.
Marquez says Pacquiao tripped him.
With a left hand.
Marquez tripped him even harder with a right.
Marquez was “waiting for the feint” and, well, Pacquiao fainted for a few minutes when Marquez found the opening he waited a lifetime for. “Todos Mexicanos” gave him strength and we return to Bradley who says he “would have retired on that note.”
Bradley, of course, must be glad to have a few millions reasons to change the final note on Marquez’s swan song. He doesn’t say that. We’ll say it for him.
And we’re off to what remains (in the opinion of this scribe) the best fight of 2013 to date: Bradley’s first title defense against Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley’s father says once Bradley started to put “the stick on him, boy couldn’t touch him.”
There were a lot of stickless rounds.
Bradely explains the thinking in taking a knee late to avoid a knockout (that was some good thinking) and the highlights are just an awesome reminder of what both men went through.
One good commercial deserves another: Provodnikov returns on October 19 on HBO against Mike Alvarado. You’re welcome HBO.
Bradley works the speedbag and promises “leather” if Marquez presses him.
And it’s back to Marquez, this time with all-time great trainer Nacho Beristain. Who doesn’t love nachos, or the fighters Nacho has given us? Both Marquez’s and Ricardo Lopez, Daniel Zaragoza…the list goes on. Marquez brags and rubs it in on Pacquiao that he’s fighting Bradley instead of a fifth with the Filipino icon. It’s been a long time coming.
Marquez’s 40th birthday is celebrated in this golden age of fighters with really long careers. “Ain’t no forty year old gonna’ whoop my ass” says a serious Bradley. It’s back to Palm Springs and Bradley explaining why he has no real entourage. Maybe if he didn’t live someplace so freaking hot?
But seriously, he’s just a simpler kind of guy. Except for a fairly cool car collection that brings back memories of “Low Rider” magazine cover girls because well…does one really need an excuse?
And now it’s time to talk PED testing. Bradley says he can be tested “365” and says Marquez “hired a cheater,” a reference to conditioning coach Memo Heredia. The testing protocol, while ‘secret,’ is described in serious terms by Keith Kizer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and Marquez notes they can show up anytime to test. “If there’s a positive test, we won’t be having a fight,” says Kizer.
So at least we know the fight isn’t in New York.
Marquez invited Bradley to train with him to prove clean and narrator Live Schreiber points out that is unlikely. Then he starts talking about a God or something. Whatever.
It’s time for the show closing montage, some commercials for upcoming programming, and finally a reminder that the pay-per-view is on October 12th.
It’s a fight to look forward to.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]