Will Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Timothy Bradley Be a Box Office Dud?

Lou CatalanoContributor IIIMay 30, 2013


When Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley meet this fall, they’ll both be coming off career-defining wins.

Marquez laid Manny Pacquiao out on the canvas in their fourth fight last December while Timothy Bradley proved that you actually can fight while unconscious in his incredible win over Ruslan Provodnikov in March.

Will their thrilling wins lead to a smash hit when they fight? It depends on your idea of success.

When Bradley fought Pacquiao last June, the fight generated around 900,000 pay-per-view buys. Considering Pacquiao’s fights had been easily clearing the million mark, this was considered to be a poor showing.

The problem was that nobody outside of the hardcore boxing fans would have been able to tell Tim Bradley from this Milton Bradley or that Milton Bradley.

For his part, Marquez has done big pay-per-view business, but only when he was the “B” fighter. He teamed with Pacquiao to hit the million-buy mark and did the same with Floyd Mayweather.

When he has to bring the juice, however, the results have been less than stellar. That’s being kind. The numbers have been dreadful. The ratings for his fight with Joel Casamayor made The Chevy Chase Show look like The Walking Dead.

The numbers for his much-anticipated rematch with Juan Diaz weren’t much better.

But that was before, when Marquez was known as a brilliant tactician who would come up just short against Pacquiao. Now he’s a brilliant tactician who just face-planted his Filipino nemesis.

His stock has never been higher. Neither has Bradley’s, for that matter.

Bradley went from being an unheralded boxer with a shot at pound-for-pound fame to an absolutely loathed paradigm of everything that is wrong with boxing. His “win” over Pacquiao got the attention of some mainstream fans for all the wrong reasons.

After taking nearly a year off from the sport, he came back in March to fight Provodnikov. They teamed up to provide us with one of the better fights in recent years.

Bradley decided to go toe-to-toe instead of using his movement and boxing skills, producing an epic battle. The fight generated great numbers for HBO.

He may have been the happiest concussion victim in sporting history.

Nothing can raise a fighter’s stock like an epic, Arturo Gatti-like slugfest. Unfortunately, the attendance announced at the Home Depot Center was only around 3,000.

So instead of facing Pacquiao, Marquez and Bradley will face each other—a little worse for wear and a little better-known.

The fight could be an excellent one, but the pay-per-view sales will probably be fairly weak. If they did fight on September 14th as originally planned, the numbers would have probably been in the range of 200,000-300,000 buys.

As far as the attendance numbers, they would’ve been decent due to Marquez’s Hispanic fanbase and the fact that the date falls on Mexican Independence Day weekend.

While nowhere near the likes of Mayweather or Pacquiao’s figures, that would still be a pretty solid number—especially when one fighter speaks very little English and the other has a small fanbase.

The biggest problem now is that Mayweather is fighting on the September date. It forces Marquez and Bradley to fight later in the fall. Pacquiao’s fight with Brandon Rios is already set for November.

Sandwiching their fight in between the two biggest stars in the sport and asking the public to dish out another $60 is going to be brutal.

The same goes for the public looking to watch the fight in person. Mayweather is fighting in Las Vegas in September and the gate is going to be massive.

Will that affect Marquez and Bradley? Perhaps, but the other issue they face is that, while they are sensational fighters, they simply aren’t huge attractions.

The general public would be the ones losing out, because their fight could be an outstanding one. Marquez has got to hit a wall at some point, especially after defeating his white whale, and Bradley showed far more vulnerabilities against Provodnikov than he did against Pac-Man. The result could be an epic battle.

Hopefully, someone is around to watch it.


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