Juan Manuel Marquez is at his best when punches are flowing—from him and his opponent. The 40-year-old Mexican legend is quite possibly the best counterpuncher in the sport. When he faces WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley on Saturday, he must entice him into as many exchanges as possible.
Bradley is the quicker, slicker boxer. If he dictates the tempo with in-and-out movement, Marquez will have an issue finding his mark. Despite the fact that Marquez is in exceptional shape, he’s still 40. He has never been overly quick, but at this stage of his career, he is bound to slow even more.
What Marquez has in his favor is Bradley’s apparent obsession with earning respect. This desire could help to create the brawl Marquez needs.
Ever since Bradley was awarded the controversial split-decision win over Manny Pacquiao in June 2012, Bradley has been the target of ridicule. He carried a massive chip on his shoulder when he faced Ruslan Provodnikov in March. Because Bradley disregarded his trainer Joel Diaz’s instructions to box, Provodnikov nearly knocked it off.
Bradley was rocked on multiple occasions and took a knee in the 12th round.
If Marquez can get Bradley to adapt a similar game plan against him, he will finish what Provodnikov started. Marquez has captured 40 of his 55 wins by KO, and he is one of the premier power punchers in his weight region.
Pacquiao can confirm that statement.
Though Provodnikov is powerful and tough, he is raw and under-skilled. Bradley easily outboxed him in every round—even the ones he was rocked in. Marquez is far more refined and not nearly as much of a one-trick pony.
Bradley won’t be able to fall back on such a huge advantage in boxing skills against him. Though the champion holds the edge in speed, his margin for error would be small—even if he sticks to a game plan that employs movement.
With just 12 knockouts in his career, Bradley has never had the type of punching power that is ideal for a slugfest. The more Marquez can get Bradley to plant and throw, the better chance he has of landing scoring punches. The man that controls the identity in this fight will win.
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