The Hottest Boxing Storylines to Watch in Week of Oct. 14
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It may be getting chillier outside, but in the sport of boxing, things are just beginning to heat up!
This past weekend we saw the potential birth of a new star, a possible swan song for a legend, and the debut of the man considered by many to be one of the best amateur fighters in the history of boxing.
And that's just the start. We're just days away from a bout that has fight of the year written all over it, and we have a few new added wrinkles in the Floyd Mayweather Jr. lottery.
All that and more, as we present, the hottest boxing storylines for the week of Oct. 14.
Can Timothy Bradley Become a Star?
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For WBO Welterweight Champion Timothy Bradley, it's all about respect. He earned a huge amount of it by defeating Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night in Las Vegas. The fight was close and competitive, but the verdict was correct and non-controversial.
Bradley (31-0, 12 KO) was widely panned and dismissed in the wake of his highly controversial split-decision nod over Manny Pacquiao in June of 2012. Almost nobody—who wasn't friend or family—felt that "Desert Storm" deserved to get the win, and the decision unfairly weighed him down like an albatross.
His exciting win over Ruslan Provodnikov this past March helped remove some of the stigma from that performance. By outboxing, and handling Marquez in the way he did, Bradley should finally place the Pacquiao debacle in his rear-view mirror.
He can rightly call himself a top three pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and no longer can people question his possession of the WBO Welterweight Championship. Even if he did lose to Pacquiao, he has now beaten the man who beat the man. That makes him the legitimate champion.
But can Bradley take that next step and become a star in the sport?
Marquez was clearly the box-office draw in this fight—as evidenced by the virtually unanimous support he received from the hotly pro-Mexican crowd—and Bradley demonstrated a style that, while effective, will have a hard time appealing to the masses.
Everyone knows that in boxing it's about more than just wins and losses, and Bradley still needs to show that he can market himself to a mainstream audience.
Is Dinamita Done?
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At 40 years old, with a Hall of Fame legacy already secure, you can understand why Juan Manuel Marquez would be non-committal about his future in the sport. He's already accomplished so much that he doesn't have anything left to prove.
It certainly doesn't help to have the bitter taste of another narrow decision that didn't go his way, as well as the disappointment of failing to capture a world title in a fifth weight class, which would've been a first for a Mexican fighter.
Marquez was so upset at the result that he stormed out of the ring after it was announced, and refused to be interviewed by HBO until he was in his dressing room. Once there, he sounded a familiar refrain, declaring that he felt he won the fight and that the judges once again "robbed" him.
Unlike many of his previous protestations—the Pacquiao fights come to mind—this one is likely to fall on deaf ears. The overwhelming consensus of ringside media was that Bradley had done enough to win a close and competitive, but non-controversial, decision.
Marquez had said heading into the Bradley clash that it could be his last, and you can't blame him. His legacy is secure, and there's really nothing left for him to accomplish in the sport.
Will Alvarado vs. Provodnikov Live Up to the Hype?
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Mike Alvarado apparently doesn't believe in taking it easy in the ring. How else can you explain his signing up to take on Ruslan Provodnikov after back-to-back meetings with Brandon Rios?
Alvarado and Provodnikov will meet on Saturday night in Denver, Colo. with the WBO junior welterweight championship on the line. It's the type of fight that makes hardcore fans' mouths water, and is frequently mentioned as a potential fight of the year contender.
Alvarado captured the interim WBO championship with his decision victory over Rios earlier this year. The full champion—Juan Manuel Marquez—was allowed to retain the title while challenging Timothy Bradley this past weekend, but the WBO stated it will elevate Alvarado to full champion status after the fight.
"Mile High" Mike is a boxer-puncher who can brawl if he needs to, but also has highly underrated boxing skills. He'll likely look to put both to good use against the Russian who is more of a conventional slugger.
Provodnikov was little known by many fans before his impressive performance—in a losing effort—against Bradley in March. He rocked the welterweight champion several times before finally dropping him in the final frame. Bradley earned a close decision, but it was hard not to be impressed by Ruslan's power and determination.
He's going to look to engage Alvarado along the lines of his first clash with Rios, and if that happens, we'll be in for some fight.
Will Mayweather Face Khan in May?
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Take this for what you will, but Amir Khan isn't fighting Devon Alexander in December like he swore he would be. Instead Alexander will defend his championship against Shawn Porter on Nov. 30 in a bout that'll compel significantly less attention.
It was just about two weeks ago that the boxing world was set afire by rumors of a potential matchup between Khan and pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather. The fight seemed to make some sense—at least from a marketing perspective—even if most felt it wouldn't be terribly competitive.
Jeff Powell of the London Daily Mail reported on Oct. 2 that Khan would be pulling out of his IBF Welterweight Championship fight with Alexander—scheduled for Dec. 7—and instead would take on Mayweather May 3 in Las Vegas.
Almost instantly, Khan issued a firm statement denying that he had pulled out of the Alexander clash (which was never officially signed), and reiterating that he was still in training for that bout with no intention of facing Mayweather instead.
Now that a potential Alexander clash in December is off the table, expect the rumors of Khan facing Mayweather to grow exponentially. It seems only logical. Why else would Khan allow a potentially lucrative title shot to fall apart?
Obviously nothing is guaranteed until the contracts are signed, but this definitely clears a hurdle to the fight being made.
Has Vasyl Lomachenko Put the Featherweight Division on Notice?
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There were a lot of unusual things about Ukrainian former amateur standout Vasyl Lomachenko's professional debut on the undercard of Bradley vs. Marquez.
Let's start with the fact that he elected to go 10 rounds in his first professional bout, and chose to do so against a solid featherweight contender in Jose Ramirez who entered the ring with 25 wins.
It wasn't remotely close to the type of soft-touch that most fighters—even highly decorated amateurs—usually face when making the transition to the pro game.
But Lomachenko is a world apart. The two-time Olympic gold medalist is widely considered one of the greatest amateur fighters in history. He accumulated a borderline ludicrous amateur record of 396-1 and twice avenged his only defeat.
The way he handled Ramirez on Saturday night should put the featherweight division on notice. He dropped the former WBO International Featherweight Champion in the first round, and then ended the night in the fourth with an absolutely vicious uppercut to the ribcage that literally sent Ramirez sprawling halfway across the ring.
The 27-year-old Ukrainian captured the meaningless second-tier belt with the victory, and is being fast tracked to a world championship shot. He's tentatively slated to face Orlando Salido for the WBO Featherweight Championship on Jan. 25 at Madison Square Garden.
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