Is it just me, or does Timothy Bradley come off as someone who feels guilty for his big win over Manny Pacquiao in 2012? He seems to be punishing himself to a degree and fighting as if he has something to prove. It is an ill-advised and thankless task to take on heading into a big-time fight with a legendary opponent.
Bradley is set to take on Juan Manuel Marquez for Bradley's WBO title on Saturday at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. The hype is nearly done, but some interesting tidbits have come from the pre-fight commentary.
During the second episode of the HBO series Bradley vs. Marquez 24/7, the WBO welterweight champion clearly showed that he has a chip on his shoulder. He talked about the death threats and ridicule he went through after winning the controversial decision over Pacquiao.
The sequence I'm referring to begins at the 28:30 mark of the video below.
On the strength of the emotions evoked from those hardships, Bradley fought Ruslan Provodnikov with a strategy that didn’t give him the best chance to win. He won the fight, but he took unnecessary punishment and nearly proved the doubters right.
In what most regard as the fight of the year so far, Bradley withstood a knockdown and defeated Provodnikov by a close unanimous decision. It was almost as if Bradley wanted to channel his anger at the sport and those who meant him harm. By trying to KO Provodnikov, perhaps he could knock out the haters.
Will Bradley defeat Marquez?
Motivation is a great and necessary component in all sports, but when it is uncultivated in boxing, it can get you knocked out.
Bradley has never been a slugger. He’s a slick, tough, accurate puncher with good defense. He is at his best when he's boxing, moving and picking his spots to trade. That skill set has gotten him where he is today as an undefeated champion. He has nothing to be ashamed of. He owns wins over Kendall Holt, Nate Campbell, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander and Joel Casamayor.
His career has already been a huge success.
If he is to beat the man who left Pacquiao laying flat on his face in December, he has to go back to what made him a champion. He can’t wait until he’s hurt to fight smart. Juan Manuel Marquez is an exceptional puncher and a very good boxer in his own right.
Bradley won’t have him out-classed from a technical standpoint the way he had Provodnikov. If Marquez badly hurts him early, he’ll likely finish him. He has captured 40 of his 55 victories by stoppage and he's headed to the Hall of Fame, no matter what happens on Saturday night.
That said, Bradley has the tools, gifts and in-ring intelligence to defeat Marquez. He just has to use them. Bradley must resist the urge to prove his doubters wrong by engaging in a slugfest. He is quicker than Marquez and better defensively.
If he uses his advantages, he should earn a much more accepted decision. Bradley shouldn't feel a need for redemption, but if he must chase this intangible goal, the key is to win.
As long as he continues to do that, the criticism will ultimately fade away.
Bradley vs. Marquez will be available live on Saturday, Oct. 12th, via pay-per-view, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 pm.. Pacific.
Follow me for musings on boxing, MMA, the WWE, the NBA and sports video games.