When the subject of a controversial decision comes up in the sport of Boxing, you will often hear opinions among fans and experts alike on how a decision sheds light on the ills that plague the sport. Oftentimes when events like this occur it is all too easy sometimes to point the finger of blame in several different directions. Whether pointed in the direction of a promoter, official judges, athletic commissions, or what have you it seems that there is always someone or some entity to blame when the element of controversy rears it’s head.
When such circumstances arise however, it is rare to see the finger of blame pointed in the direction of a fighter. In the wake of the controversial decision in the Welterweight championship fight between Manny Pacquiao and undefeated Jr. Welterweight champion Timothy Bradley last year, much of the anger was pointed in the direction of Bradley.
In the days following that fight I along with many other members of media expressed opinion and analysis with regard to the decision rendered in that contest. Despite the outrage caused by the decision, what was overlooked was the courage that Timothy Bradley showed that night. Although most observers, this one included felt that Bradley was bested by Manny Pacquiao, Bradley fought the majority of the fight having suffered ligament damage to both of his feet. The fact that Bradley was able to fight through what had to be excruciating pain to make the final bell in that fight is a testament to the warrior Timothy Bradley is. It is unfortunate that because of the controversial scoring in that fight that Bradley received much of the blame.
Even though damage is done to the sport as a whole when controversial circumstances arise such as a controversial decision, what can often be overlooked is the damage it can do to the fighters involved. Obviously most will say that the fighter who benefits least when a controversial decision is rendered would be the fighter that does not get the verdict of the judges. In the case of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight however, it should be argued that the fighter who was hurt the most was Timothy Bradley.
Although Bradley was the benefactor of the decision rendered in that fight, the fact that some pointed the finger of blame in his direction quite frankly did more damage to his career then a loss would have. To his credit, Bradley handled the situation as well as anyone could in the position he was in.
When Bradley returned to the ring earlier this year to make the first defense of his WBO world Welterweight championship against contender Ruslan Provodnikov, one of the questions that went through my mind prior to the fight was whether or not the controversy Bradley had gone through would have any effect in the way he would fight? Although most believed that it would have been to Bradley’s benefit to box against the power punching Provodnikov, Bradley elected to go toe to toe. Several back and forth exchanges highlighted this bout however, the thing that sticks out most in my mind was when Provodnikov staggered Bradley in round six. By all accounts, Bradley was badly hurt and was out on his feet yet the champion was able to survive by gamely fighting off the ropes. This exemplifies Timothy Bradley’s warrior mentality. Bradley was able to adjust in the middle rounds and won those rounds by out boxing Provodnikov and was able to win the fight by outworking Provodnikov down the stretch in a bout that should be under serious consideration for Fight of the year honors at the end of 2013.
It was not surprising to this observer when it was announced that Bradley’s next title defense would come against future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez, who has been one of the sport’s pound for pound elite fighters for many years last fought in December of last year in his fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao.
As has been the custom throughout the series of fights between the two legends, the fourth fight produced plenty of back and forth action. A fight that saw both fighters suffering knockdowns, culminating in a thrilling one punch knockout in the sixth round for Marquez. After suffering two extremely close decision losses to Pacquiao in fights two, and three in the series; the dramatic knockout victory for Marquez was a career defining moment.
An obvious question that should be asked as a fight approaches is how much has been taken out of Juan Manuel Marquez, not just in those four fights, but throughout his career? At this stage of his career after being in many grueling battles, another appropriate question could be how much does Juan Manuel Marquez have left to give as a fighter?
Although some have criticized this fight being made and the fact that it is being televised on pay-per-view, the fight between Bradley and Marquez makes sense. The obvious storyline of Bradley getting the decision against Manny Pacquiao in a fight where most believe Pacquiao should have been the victor against a fighter in Marquez, who is Manny Pacquiao’s greatest rival, who scored a knockout of Pacquiao in devastating fashion is certainly intriguing.
From a business standpoint, in the current landscape of Boxing where two of the sport’s prominent promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions along with two of Boxing’s top television networks HBO and Showtime are competing to put on the best fights possible, this fight was logical and based on both Bradley and Marquez’ recent fights, should have been made.
Stylistically, both Bradley and Marquez have great boxing ability. It could be likely however, to see this fight at some point develop into a war. Both fighters have shown their mettle and even though anything can happen at any given time, one could be justified in thinking that this fight could eventually become a toe to toe give and take battle. An argument could be made that Marquez could have a slight advantage in this fight. Although Timothy Bradley is a world-class boxer and is a good combination puncher who has hand speed, some may say that Marquez has the edge due to his ability to counter punch with precision accuracy. It will be interesting to see who makes the first move in this fight. It is not out of the realm of possibility that we might see a tactical fight early on where both fighters could be looking to make the other initiate aggression and look to counter.
The fight between Bradley and Marquez could also conceivably be an unofficial start of a round robin tournament of sorts. Ruslan Provodnikov is scheduled to face top Jr. Welterweight contender Mike Alvarado on October 19th meanwhile, Manny Pacquiao is scheduled to face Brandon Rios on November 23rd. What may result out of these three fights could end up being very lucrative for all involved. For fighters like Rios, who held interim/regular status in the WBA’s Lightweight ratings, Alvarado who currently holds interim status in the WBO’s Jr. Welterweight ratings, and for Provodnikov who some feel deserved the decision in his fight with Timothy Bradley, this round robin scenario should it happen could be vindication for them as three of Boxing’s rising stars.
For Timothy Bradley a win over Marquez, and subsequent fights with any of those fighters offers a chance for validation after being blamed for a controversy that he truly did not deserve. A win for Juan Manuel Marquez, would seem to clear the way for a fifth fight with Manny Pacquiao should Pacquiao be successful in November against Brandon Rios. In what has been a stellar year for the sport of Boxing, 2014 looks to be in good position to continue the momentum the sport has built in 2013.
As the Boxing world prepares for yet another “Mega Fight” it is my hope as it was last month prior to the Floyd Mayweather-Saul Alvarez fight that the sport will be spared from any controversy. Unfortunately, there was an element of controversy that did cast a shadow over what was otherwise a great night for the sport on September 14th in regard to one judge’s scorecard at the end of Mayweather-Alvarez.
It is my hope that with the pledge of more scrutiny by the Nevada State Athletic Commission of officials assigned to “high profile fights” in the wake of Judge C.J. Ross’ controversial scorecard in the Mayweather-Alvarez fight that if Bradley-Marquez does go to the scorecards, we will get an adequately scored and just decision. The fans both those who will be in attendance to see the fight in person at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas and those who will pay to see this fight and card via pay-per-view deserve it and most of all the fighters deserve it.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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