Timothy Bradley retained his WBO welterweight title and improved his unblemished record to 31-0 in winning by split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday evening at Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center.
A hard left hook by Bradley in the 12th and final round nearly sent Marquez to the canvas, which would have been the first time that either boxer had gone down in the showdown.
That helped thwart any hopes Marquez had of pulling off a stunning comeback, despite an otherwise stellar display as the matchup concluded.
The younger Bradley controlled his opponent, who is 10 years his senior, in the early going in a bout that paired the two fighters who handed Manny Pacquiao losses in back-to-back fights.
Although it was close, Dan Rafael of ESPN crowned the American the clear champion before the results came in:
Bryan Armen Graham of Sports Illustrated concurred with the verdict, too:
The jab was the most effective weapon for Bradley throughout, while Marquez was unable to put together combinations.
After a rather even first round that appeared to go to Marquez, 10-9, after he landed a left uppercut to the body, Bradley began asserting his will. The 30-year-old used superior speed and quickness, methodically attacking Marquez and frustrating the veteran, who wasn't able to consistently get to his slippery opponent.
Bradley's barrage of jabs prevented Marquez from being able to use his signature counter-punching ability, which kept the undefeated fighter from absorbing too much punishment.
When the final bell sounded and the decision was read, Marquez felt he did enough to win the fight:
Marquez fell to 55-7-1 as a professional—still a respectable record but of course not the result he was looking for.
Following the triumph, Bradley conveyed a confident swagger and intimated that he made all the right moves in preparing for this fight to come out on top:
It was an entertaining matchup overall that lived up to the hype, with the final punch count being rather close:
Bradley was just a bit too slick for Marquez, who could not inflict enough damage to get the nod from the majority of the judges.