By Chris Robinson
Later tonight, inside of the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley will look for a successful defense of his crown when he meets up with one of the greatest Mexican fighters of all-time, Juan Manuel Marquez.
The HBO pay per view showdown is clearly one of the most significant fights of the year as well as hard match to break down given the strengths of each man.
Several opinions of Bradley-Marquez have been gathered in recent weeks, with many observers unable to foresee a clear victor when asked for a prediction.
Count former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios in as one of those who is one the fence.
“It’s going be a good match. It’s going to be 50/50,” Rios stated recently. “We’re going to see how it plays out but it’s going to be a good match.”
Bradley revealed a different side of himself this past March when he elected to stand and trade with durable Russian Ruslan Provodnikov for twelve thrilling rounds. Bradley was knocked down and suffered his share of telling blows along the way before ultimately finding a way to emerge with a unanimous decision victory as well as a newfound sense of respect from some of his peers.
“Bradley showed the world that he can bang it out,” Rios said, tipping his hat to the Palm Springs native. “That’s what’s pretty cool. But Juan is a very smart, technical fighter. He’s not going to go out and go crazy and brawl out like the Russian. I think it’s going to be a technical fight.”
Following his war with Provodnikov, Bradley admitted that he had suffered a concussion in the contest and had severe balance and memory issues in the weeks after.
There are question marks floating around as to whether or not Bradley has fully recovered and Rios feels it’s up to whatever temperament he has going forward.
“It could and it couldn’t,” Rios noted. “It really depends on him how it affected him. Some fighters can take it and some fighters can’t.”
Four months prior to Bradley-Provodnikov, Marquez came through with his greatest victory as a professional by knocking out his rival Manny Pacquiao inside of the MGM Grand in their fourth encounter.
In another harrowing fight between them, Marquez and Pacquiao traded knockdowns and took turns stealing the momentum over the first five rounds. Bleeding and seeming to be seriously dazed, Marquez would connect a beautiful right hand on Pacquiao in the waning seconds of the sixth round to drop him and knock him cold.
Rios can’t help but to give the Mexico City native his just due for that particular triumph.
“That’s impressive,” said Rios. “How can you not be impressed? It wasn’t a lucky punch. He fought Pacquiao three times. He knows what Pacquiao does. And he already knew how to fight him. He knew that straight right would get him all the time and it got him.”
Rios was then asked what Bradley and Marquez need to do against the other in order to have success.
“I guess fight the way they fight,” Rios continued. “Stick to the game plan. Marquez is not going to get out of his game plan at all. Marquez is a straight counter-puncher, technician-boxer. Bradley, he’s both now. Everybody’s seen that he can brawl and he can also box and move quick. It’s going to be an interesting fight.”
Rios is lined up with a Nov. 23 meeting with Pacquiao, set to take place in Macau, China, and he admits that he can’t even entertain the thought of Bradley or Marquez being a future opponent simply due to the stiff task in front of him.
“No, right now we’re only concentrating on one fighter and that’s Pacquiao,” said Rios. “That’s all [that’s] on my mind right now.”