By Jake Donovan
Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez are moments away from hitting the scales for their welterweight battle Saturday evening at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bradley, always chiseled and voluntarily under the watch of 24/7/365 random drug testing, hit the scales at a fighting-ready 146 lb. Marquez, massively sculpted in his advanced age, was way under the limit at 144.5 lb.
Marquez attempts to become the first Mexican fighter in boxing history to win belts in five separate weight classes. The future Hall of Famer hasn't fought since his epic 6th round knockout of Pacquiao in their fourth meeting last December, which earned Fight of the Year honors in many circles.
Bradley makes the second defense of the alphabet title he acquired in a controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao last June. His lone defense is this year's leading contender for Fight of the Year, peeling himself off of the canvas to eke out a well-earned points win over Ruslan Provodnikov this past March.
The welterweight battle headlines a four-fight pay-per-view card (Saturday, HBO PPV, 9PM ET).
The co-feature bout is for a vacant featherweight belt. Former two-time titlist Orlando Salido faces Orlando Cruz, who seeks to make history in a variety of ways.
Salido came in at the divisional limit of 126 lb; Cruz was slightly lighter at 125.5 lb.
The bout is the first for Salido since conceding his belt to Mikey Garcia this past January. The technical decision loss ended a near two-year title reign, highlighted by a pair of knockout wins over Juan Manuel Lopez.
A win by Cruz would give the 2000 Puerto Rico Olympic boxing squad its third major titlist,m making the team the most successful in the island's history in that regard. The other two members to have hit pay dirt in the pro ranks are Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon; Cotto is in town to support Cruz.
The far-more publicized angle, however, is Cruz becoming the first-ever openly gay boxer to win a belt. The featherweight contender came out exactly one year ago (October 11 is "National Coming Out Day"), having since won twice in dominant fashion and four wins overall following back-to-back knockout losses.
Deeper in the undercard comes the pro debut of arguably the most successful fighter in amateur boxing history. Two-time Olympic Gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko is already being fast-tracked towards a world title without having yet fought his round of pro action. The Ukrainian wunderkind takes on Jose Ramirez in a scheduled 12-round affair.
A win for Lomachenko, who weighed in at 125 lb., could lead towards an eventual fight with current lineal 122 lb. king Guillermo Rigondeaux by as early as his third pro fight. On Saturday he fights for a regional title.
Ramirez will need to shed a little bit of weight to be eligible for the same title; the fringe featherweight contender was 126.5 lb.
Timothy Bradley, 146 lb vs Juan Manuel Marquez, 144.5 lb - 12 rounds for Bradley's welterweight title
Orlando Salido, 126 lb vs Orlando Cruz, 125.5 lb - 12 rounds for vacant featherweight title
Sean Monaghan, 174 lb vs Anthony Smith, 175.5 lb - 10 rounds, light heavyweight
Vasyl Lomachenko, 125 lb vs Jose Ramirez, 126.5 lb* - 12 rounds, featherweight
* Ramirez 1/2 lb over the limit, has two hours to shed extra weight
Kenny Abril, 146.5 lb vs Brad Solomon, 146 lb - 8 rounds, welterweight
Mikael Zewski, 147.5 lb vs Alberto Herrera, 147.5 lb - 8 rounds, welterweight
Jun Doliguez vs Giovanni Caro - 8 rounds, featherweight
Trevor McCumby vs Eric Watkins - 6 rounds, light heavyweight
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. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
Tags: Timothy Bradley , Juan Manuel Marquez , HBO , Top Rank , Mikael Zewski , Orlando Salido , Brad Solomon , Sean Monaghan , Marquez-Bradley , Marquez vs Bradley , Orlando Cruz , Vasyl Lomachenko