Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez are all but set to square off Saturday night, Oct. 12, in a fight that pits Bradley's courage against the experience and pride of Marquez. Each fighter has his own strengths and weaknesses, and how those weaknesses are exploited by the other fighter will likely determine the winner.
Both fighters have defeated Manny Pacquiao, but this match will be different, as both will be looking to make yet another statement.
Bradley will be attempting to prove to everyone that his controversial win over Pacquaio wasn't a fluke. He has beaten Ruslan Provodnikov since his decision over Pacquiao, but Marquez represents much more of a test. At 30-0, Bradley is also looking to remain undefeated.
The 40-year-old Marquez will be fighting for pride and to prove that he still has something left in the tank against a much younger opponent.
This fight has all the makings of a great one. Here are some strengths and weaknesses to look out for heading into the bout.
After nearly being knocked out twice in the first two rounds against Provodnikov, Bradley fought his heart out and won in dominant fashion. An intangible like Bradley's heart and willingness to keep fighting is what sets him apart from the rest of the boxing world.
Marquez is a quality fighter as well and will be coming at Bradley from all angles. Expect him to go after Bradley early and often. It'll be Bradley's goal to maintain focus and keep fighting strong until he gets his opportunity.
Bradley knows how to hustle and has superior boxing skills compared to the rest of the welterweight division. He is a fundamentally sound boxer who won't make big mistakes by leaving himself open or attempting punches that will be easily evaded.
If Bradley can stay fundamentally sound and not succumb to the pressure in this one, then there's no reason why he can't defeat Marquez.
People can say all they want about Marquez's experience being an advantage and a strength, but his age counteracts that as one of his weaknesses.
Marquez's real advantages come in his precise mastery of how to counterpunch. He has the uncanny ability of timing his opposition early in fights to capitalize on landing punches in sequence while his opponent recoils his own arm.
This also helps Marquez to defend punches and land hits of his own. Defeating a fundamental fighter like Bradley will rest on Marquez's ability to do just that.
Marquez also boasts the skills on defense to complement his ability to counterpunch. By constantly circling his opponent and keeping his feet moving, Marquez makes it difficult for his opponent to set his feet and deliver powerful strikes.
It's the little things that count for Marquez.
It's a weakness that can easily be mitigated by landing enough punches, but Bradley isn't the strongest of fighters. He doesn't always hit exceptionally hard. Instead, he focuses on chipping away at his opponent. While it's not a bad strategy, it will lower his chances of knocking out Marquez before he can do some damage.
When fighting inside with his head down, which is an area of fighting where Marquez excels, Bradley has a tendency to open up his body and throw punches wide. That leaves him open for counterpunches to the midsection. Counterpunches are, of course, a specialty of Marquez.
Bradley's ability to bully fighters in close-range fighting actually lends to Marquez's style. Marquez is great at ducking and dodging potential strikes to the upper body and head, and Bradley will give him plenty of opportunities to do so.
Sometimes, Marquez will choose to withstand a hit and deliver a counterpunch rather than block the delivery. While this bodes well for his offense, it could certainly add up and tire him out early.
Marquez is a smart fighter and there's no doubting the fact that he knows what he's doing in the ring. Regardless, taking too many body shots against Bradley could be dangerous. Bradley is resilient and will eat up those counterpunches in an effort to land those of his own.
If that happens, this will turn into an all-out brawl. At that point, the fight could be a tossup.
Marquez should look to counterpunch intelligently against Bradley. By blocking or slowing down some of Bradley's deliveries, Marquez will be able to pick his spots later on in the fight.