After having to answer questions about his health and ability to stay at the top for many months, Timothy Bradley Jr. answered his critics with an all-around solid performance in a split-decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night.
Despite being the better boxer from start to finish, it wasn't all easy for Bradley. He was pushed to his limit and rattled around plenty in his own right, bothered by Marquez's power and resiliency.
Both boxers showed up well despite it going Bradley's way in the end, and both he and Marquez showed signs of promise and regret in their performances.
Let's take a look at what each boxer did right and wrong throughout all 12 rounds of the bout.
What Went Right for Bradley
From the get-go, Bradley was the most energetic fighter in the ring by far and used his energy to get the best of Marquez.
The defending—and still—champion got into a zone at different times during the bout, showing confidence in the realization that he had the superior fighting ability from top to bottom.
As HBO Boxing showed, Bradley's extra energy provided an advantage in the punches department:
Despite this confidence, however, he didn't forget to protect himself in the early rounds to help him build a sizable lead that couldn't be overcome despite Marquez's undying efforts in the end.
On top of his superior energy, Bradley simply had more foot speed than his opponent and used it to circle around the older Marquez to maximize his impact when he did decide to throw punches.
Much of what Bradley did right didn't involve his hands. It was his dancing, energy and positioning that won him this fight more than anything.
He also saved his most lethal punch for the final seconds of Round 12, leaving a memory in the judges' minds that couldn't be ignored.
What Went Wrong for Bradley
With the unquestionable confidence that Bradley showed in the bout came an added level of swagger, and that came back to bite Bradley at times.
The eventual winner ended up getting into swinging battles late in rounds when he was in the driver's seat, allowing for him to become vulnerable at the hands of an amped-up Marquez who was looking to get any sort of impact he could early on.
When the fight wore on, it seemed to give an advantage to Marquez, as Bradley made himself susceptible to big blows by keeping his hands down. At times, he simply took 15 or 20 seconds off at a time—possibly to regain some energy he burned running around his opponent—and it ended up hurting him.
A fight that looked to be out of hand early on ended up being a split decision, and Bradley is to blame for that. Even though he emerged as the better boxer on the night, he was a few big blows away from losing his belt.
What Went Right for Marquez
For a lot of the fight, it seemed like nothing could go right for Marquez. But when his experience was able to shine through, it made a difference.
Knowing he was being outworked in the energy department and had no answer, Marquez was able to use his great power to catch Bradley off guard with counterpunches in a lot of situations.
Seeing the way the fight was going, Marquez didn't wear himself out by running around and trying to match Bradley's energy. That was a great call by him, as it gave him the ability to save his best punches for the latter rounds.
What Went Wrong for Marquez
Things started out well for Marquez in Round 1, but he then became victim of a Bradley rally that lasted five or six rounds. Much of that was due to Marquez's inability to match Bradley's energy.
It's unclear if Father Time has caught up to the 40-year-old boxer, but given Bradley is 10 years his junior, it very well may have played a part.
I touched earlier on Marquez's ability to use his counter to catch Bradley off guard, but oftentimes he didn't do that quite enough for it to be an advantage that really made itself known.
When Marquez was able to mount a comeback, it was more due to his power than any sort of extra burst he was able to muster up. For all 12 rounds, he was outworked and outhustled.