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Next weekend, Juan Manuel Marquez attempts to become the first five-division world champion ever from Mexico when he faces WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley on pay-per-view.
This a battle between the two men who beat Manny Pacquiao in 2012, although Bradley's split decision in June was controversial, while Marquez won by sensational Round 6 KO last December. Bradley already survived a potential Fight of the Year effort in 2013, when he earned a unanimous decision against Ruslan Provodnikov last March in a fight where he appeared out on his feet on multiple occasions.
If Bradley takes the kind of risks against Marquez that he took against Provodnikov, he will not end the fight on his feet. Marquez is among the greatest counterpunchers in boxing history, and if he is able to hurt Bradley the way Provodnikov was, Bradley will not be able to rely on superior boxing skills to retake control of the fight.
But I'm almost sure Bradley will fight a more cautious fight this time around. He'll look to make the fight ugly and physically challenging for the 40-year-old Marquez.
I think this one will be largely a chess match. But both men are crisp combination punchers, so expect action-packed exchanges throughout the fight, even if they are tactically deployed.
I think Bradley will take ugly rounds early, forcing Marquez to get riskier and try to press the action in the second half of the fight. This will largely play into Bradley's hands, but it will also allow Marquez to get off first and record some flashy scoring.
I won't be surprised if this one ends up very close on the cards. But I'm coming down in favor of Juan Manuel Marquez by decision.