By Chris Robinson
As the Oct. 12 Tim Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez pay per view showdown approaches us, there is some noticeable tension in the air.
A visibly discouraged Bradley spoke on his concerns with me earlier this month pertaining to the drug testing protocols that are being used in advance of the bout.
While initially seeking to have either VADA or USADA drug testing enforced, Bradley was thrown for a loop when he discovered that his promoter and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum instead had plans of using a third party agency in cooperation with the Nevada State Athletic Commission to oversee the testing.
Bradley initially mentioned that he would consider walking away from the fight if VADA or USADA weren’t involved, citing his contract that stated either party needed to be used in conjunction with the fight.
Finally, Bradley would put the issue aside, as he instead turned his focus solely towards his preparation for Marquez.
Despite being more than ready to dive into a full-fledged training camp in order to prepare himself for battle against one of Mexico’s finest prizefighters, you can sense that Bradley isn’t completely confident in how the situation is being handled.
And while Bradley’s head trainer Joel Diaz didn’t have too much to say about his fighter's stance on the drug testing issue, he is very adamant when claiming that Arum has a vested interest in seeing Marquez emerge victorious come October.
“Tim Bradley has always worked his way up the hard way,” Diaz told me recently. “Nobody’s ever given him love in the business of boxing. Every single one of his fights, they want to take him out; they want to put him out of the business, one way or another. But he keeps winning. That’s one thing that we have in mind. For a fact, I know that his promoter would rather have Marquez win than Bradley win. And we know that.”
Asked why he feels that way, Diaz had no problem sharing his opinion.
“Marquez is a big name, he’s a big draw,” said Diaz. “Bradley, as you can see, he doesn’t draw much. He doesn’t have a big draw in boxing. But he keeps winning, he keeps fighting. He’s a four-time world champion. As a business person, I’m sure that Bob Arum would rather have Marquez win than Bradley win. Because there [are] bigger fights out there and bigger opponents. We have that in mind and we work against all those adversities.”
Turning his attention to his charge’s training, Diaz shared what he will be looking for in Bradley’s sparring for Marquez and revealed that his brother and former two-time lightweight champion Julio will be working with him.
“I expect sparring partners to be counter punchers and I expect for them to be smart and have skill,” said Diaz. “[Guys] that have been in the game for a while. I know my brother Julio is going to be one of them, because Julio he’s strong and he’s a solid welterweight. He has similarities like Marquez. He’s very technical and he can catch your mistakes and he makes you think. I think Julio’s one of them and I’m looking for a couple more. I’m going to have the appropriate sparring for this fight.”
Marquez is coming off of a career-defining victory this past December when he knocked out his fierce rival Manny Pacquiao in the sixth round of their fourth encounter. Prior to the dramatic finish, the two men had traded knockdowns and Marquez had taken his share of punishment.
Diaz went far enough to state that Marquez was actually on his way to being stopped before landing his big finisher.
“It’s common sense, you’ve fought a guy three times, you’ve got to know the guy real well,” said Diaz. “Marquez has never fought Bradley before. After he fought Pacquiao three times, of course he’s going to have some sort of strategy. We practiced the same punch when Bradley fought Pacquiao, but it was hard because Bradley’s foot was hurt. But now, it’s a whole different ballgame.
“Tim Bradley is different,” Diaz continued. “Marquez was hurt in the fifth round. He was hurt, he was dazed. And I saw the fight, in the sixth round, Pacquiao was going to finish him. He wanted to get him out of there early and he ran into his own problems by trying to get Marquez out of there.”