Alternative scenarios can sometimes prove more satisfactory for everyone involved. According to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, Top Rank has discussed the possibility of a Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO)-Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KO) fight in lieu of Manny Pacquiao’s current indecisiveness about securing an opponent, let alone a fight date.
While such a matchup would effectively take two of the most viable opponents out the running for the November or December date reserved for Pacquiao’s ring return, Marquez-Bradley would promise to be a quality, marketable matchup with major implications for both men.
The fact that Marquez-Bradley seems to have been discussed in detail bodes well for the prospect of the fight getting made. Because of Pacquiao’s vacillating, having a contingency plan in place for all parties involved is essential, and should Marquez and Bradley strike a deal, Pacquiao could still opt for a rematch with Miguel Cotto—the other best and most realistic option at this point.
Obviously, HBO—or any major network, for that matter—would salivate over a Marquez-Bradley bout, and Rafael acknowledges that key players, such as Bradley’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, view the bout as a realistic possibility:
“It's a fight we've been talking about -- me, Bradley, Bob and Todd,” Dunkin said. “They tell me that Marquez and [promoter Fernando] Beltran have been talking about it, too, as a possibility.
“I'm not saying it's happening. What I'm saying is that it's a fight that's very interesting and a fight that everyone seems to love. Manny is the boss with the date and the opponent. It's his call and we're all waiting on him. But if both of these guys [Bradley and Marquez] are free, that's a fight we would love and would go further in pursuit of. And I think Marquez and Beltran feel the same way about fighting Tim. Top Rank told us Marquez is very interested in the fight.”
This is certainly optimistic, and it behooves fans and writers to examine why Marquez-Bradley would be such a compelling fight.
This past June, boxing was making global headlines for all the wrong reasons. Of course, this unfortunate publicity boom was exclusively the result of Timothy Bradley getting what the majority of people felt was a wildly undeserved split decision against Manny Pacquiao. This is obviously not the forum to further beat the dead horse that is Pacquiao-Bradley, but the fact remains that the essence of what transpired that night in Vegas won’t soon be forgotten.
Added to this in a potential Marquez-Bradley showdown is that fact that Marquez—only two fights ago—lost a debatable decision to Pacquiao where, despite being out-landed, Marquez consistently connected with crisp counters and dictated the majority of the fight’s pace.
Thus, in Marquez and Bradley, fans are presented with two men who have potentially been robbed or caused a robbery against Pacquiao, a fact which makes their potential meeting that much more tantalizing.
Officially, Marquez’s record against Pacquiao stands at 0-2-1 despite the fact that a strong and vocal contingent of fans and writers feel it could be as glossy as 3-0. Bradley getting the nod against Pacquiao must have stung Marquez to the core, and in a potential fight against Bradley, Marquez would undoubtedly be highly motivated to score a clear victory which, in the eyes of many, would keep him level with Pacquiao.
For Bradley, a fight with Marquez offers the prospect of redemption regardless of whether he feels that he still has something to prove to the boxing public. If Bradley was to defeat Marquez decisively, it would lessen the sting of his controversial win over Pacquiao as he would have defeated the man most agree has Manny’s number.
Marquez and Bradley bring marquee names to the promotional equation, regardless of how dubious some feel this distinction might be for “Desert Storm” after the controversy with Pacquiao. Regardless of the outcome of his last fight, Bradley is now firmly in the public eye, and from henceforth, his career will be followed with intense scrutiny.
In terms of viable options other than fighting Pacquiao, both Marquez and Bradley would be hard-pressed to do better—financially—than fighting each other. The bout would surely air on HBO, and it is reasonable to speculate that it could make a cracking pay-per-view. If stacked with the deep and significant undercard, it could be one of the year’s most anticipated fight cards.
In terms of championship prestige, Bradley currently holds the WBO welterweight title, while Marquez, in his last outing, won a lopsided decision over Serhiy Fedchenko to inherit the interim WBO light welterweight title. While alphabet soup belts mean little to Bradley, and even less to Marquez, the fact that they both currently hold world titles has to mean something.
That both men currently reign in different divisions is also interesting. Bradley, of course, used to be the 140-pound boss, so fighting Marquez at a catch-weight, or at his now-natural welterweight perch, should be simple. Also, were Marquez to move up for a fight against Bradley, it would provide a stern test and opportunity to again perfectly acclimate his body for a Pacquiao bout slightly above 140 pounds (pending a victory against Bradley, of course).
The bottom line is that Marquez-Bradley would involve two elite champions making one of boxing’s best possible fights. On the heels of the looming Andre Ward-Chad Dawson showdown, Marquez and Bradley choosing to fight each other instead of taking lesser interim bouts—should neither land the Pacquiao fight—would help continue what will hopefully become a trend in boxing of the best fighting the best.
The often unnecessarily loud proclamations that Bradley is an awkward fighter who leads with his head and makes boring fights should have been put to rest after his fight against Pacquiao, regardless of whether Bradley deserved the decision.
In fact, Bradley, who is always in optimal shape, has proven that he is a clever fighter who is both capable of flurries or countering off his back foot. Possessing a strong straight right hand and left hook, Bradley is intelligent, knows how to work the body and seems comfortable in almost every conceivable situation.
Bradley is able to take what opponents give him—Pacquiao bout aside—and his relentless flurries can be as exciting as they are chaotic. The fact that Bradley possesses a tremendous chin and resolve also means he is willing to take chances and engage his opponents.
Marquez might be the most precise counter-puncher in boxing, and his laser right hand combined with outstanding ring generalship make him a master technician. Still, in the tradition of great Mexican fighters, Marquez can be lured into a brawl, and this happens to be one of his endearing qualities.
There are few boxers more capable under fire than Marquez. Whether it’s his granite chin, straight punching or ability to maintain his composure, Marquez seems to be the thinking man’s brawler.
At 39, Marquez appears to have retained much of his ability, and it is reasonable to expect that a fight with Bradley would be fought on even terms, with Bradley having the advantage in speed and athleticism, while Marquez would hold the edge in accurate punching and ring savvy.
Clearly, both men would be willing to engage and brawl, and it is logical to suspect that the fight could move in this direction after a cagey start. It is reasonable to assume that Marquez would let Bradley come to him and use counter-punching to halt and frustrate Bradley’s forward progress. Once this occurs, Bradley would likely opt to swarm Marquez so as to work the body, and the prospect of close quarters fighting is exactly what should excite fans.
While this projection is grounded in both fighter’s tendencies, it is still mere conjecture. That said, Marquez and Bradley both possess a superior will to win, and blood, broken feet or knockdowns don’t seem to deter them.
This fight makes sense from a pride, prestige and stylistic standpoint. Instead of just waiting for Pacquiao, both men should take a long, hard look at fighting each other; it will only benefit the sport.