By Jake Donovan
The October 12 pay-per-view headliner between Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez–which takes place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas–seemed like a natural pairing, a matchup of two fighters who claimed wins over Manny Pacquiao at separate points in 2012.
Yet there are many who question why they chose each other over what would conceivably be a far more lucrative return bout with Pacquiao – for Bradley, a rematch, while a fifth encounter for Marquez.
Buzz for a Bradley-Pacquiao sequel never really gained momentum, largely due to its own promoter–Bob Arum–playing down such an affair at the time. The claim back then was that an immediate rematch would raise further suspicion over an already questionable verdict, in which Bradley scored a major upset via a widely unpopular split decision last June in Las Vegas.
Separate talks surfaced of the possibility of both fighters receiving another career-best payday against Pacquiao. Neither fighter bit, instead setting their sights on each other for their forthcoming welterweight title fight next Saturday evening.
“Money isn’t everything,” explains Arum. “And let’s face it; it’s not like they’re nor fighting for peanuts. Legacy is important for Timothy and Juan Manuel. Timothy wants Marquez’ scalp. Marquez wants to be the first to win world titles in five weight classes.”
Bradley (30-0, 12KO) goes into further detail.
“There’s two things. Going to China is one. The money wasn’t substantially out of this world to go to China,” explains Bradley.
The second reason has far less to do with geography and instead peeks into the reward justifying whatever risk is involved in this particular matchup.
“Two, Marquez is 40 and on his way out of the game. I felt I could beat him three years ago. I wanted a crack at him before he gets out of the game,” Bradley insists.
The bout will be his second of 2013, and also just his second since upsetting Pacquiao last June. There was an opportunity to return to the ring last December, but Bradley wasn’t pleased with the terms or with the lack of support from his promoter or the fans.
Public perception of his career changed for the far better following his gutsy off-the-canvas points win over Ruslan Provodnikov this past March. Bradley further displayed heart and courage in surviving a rough opening and closing round to take a narrow decision in one of the leading contenders for the best fights of 2013.
“The Ruslan Provodnikov fight did some justice as to where I fit in the boxing game. I figured, let’s go to the light and take this fight. Then we can go back and revisit the dark side. I felt at the time, I wasn’t ready to go back to the Pacquiao fight. After the Pacquiao fight, I was in the dark (with the public). After the Ruslan Provodnikov fight, I was in the light. I want to stay in the light.”
A win over Marquez (55-6-1, 40KO) would clearly put Bradley in the running for Fighter of the Year honors, a discussion in which his name was last mentioned during the 2009 boxing season. Not to mention the prestige that would come with his résumé boasting wins over two modern legends.
“Both Pacquiao and Marquez are Hall Of Fame fighters. I want both those names.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.