By Ivan G. Goldman
Juan Manuel Marquez and his new Adonis body will be up against a committed Tim Bradley Saturday night in a fight that will test fans’ appetite for pay-per-view spending.
The event follows on the heels of the record-breaking Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez card Sept. 14 that pulled in $150 million, from 2.2 million pay-per-view buys. Its record gate exceeded $20 million, with awful seats in the Himalayas of the MGM Grand arena selling for an absurdly high $350. The suggested sum of $75 for high-def viewing at home was the highest price ever.
Bradley had requested rigorous VADA testing for illegal chemical boosters before this fight. Marquez responded that Bradley, who holds the WBO welterweight title, sounded scared. Who wouldn’t be scared of the Frankenstein who stepped into the ring last December with Manny Pacquiao? Marquez had a 39-year-old head and what looked like an entirely different body, one that had been sculpted under the direction of disgraced former BALCO operative Angel “Memo” Heredia.
None of Heredia’s athletes have ever tested positive. But to avoid prosecution he’s taken the stand on more than one occasion to rat out his old pals at BALCO and admit to juicing his clients. 24/7 shots of Marquez before the Pacquiao fight showed him performing squats with a barbell that had Volkswagen-sized weights at each end.
Marquez, who’d never knocked Pacquiao off his feet in their 36 previous rounds, was able to kayo him with one punch in the sixth round of their fourth bout. He cited focus and discipline, talking about these traits as though no one else ever thought of using them.
Some observers tend to be skeptical of athletes who get better at the tail end of their careers. When Mark McGwire hit 70 homeruns in 1998, he was 34 years old and playing better than he was at age 25. Eventually, he admitted that he’d received chemical assistance for his amazing burst of talent, speed, strength and endurance at an age when most athletes are home watching sports on TV.
Heredia is still in the Marquez camp and swears he’s now legit. When he first started working for Marquez, he hid out under an alias, but eventually was unmasked. After Bradley’s request for respected VADA supervision of urine and blood testing was filtered through Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotions, we received much verbiage for a reply. It was attached to a big fat no. Testing will be supervised by the Nevada commission. Arum was also an arrogant, blustering defender of cheater Antonio Margarito, who was caught with loads in his wraps before he fought Shane Mosley but swore he had no idea how they got there.
Bradley has been complaining about all the vilification he had to endure following his questionable decision over Pacquiao in June 2012, and he makes an excellent point. Over and over, we’ve seen fans blame rotten decisions on the fighters. Usually these shouters are encouraged by the on-air tuxedo crews who immediately treat the winners like mass murderers under cross-examination. They seem to think these fighters are removing their gloves between rounds and wielding scoring pencils for the commission. Bradley, 30-0 (12 KOs), since earned much respect when he fought to a well-deserved victory over Ruslan Provodnikov March 16 in Carson, California in a brutal contest. He was later diagnosed with a severe concussion.
Marquez has showed tremendous talent and guts over a career that spans two decades. At age 40, he sports a record of 55-6-1 (40 KOs) and is much loved by Mexican fans for besting Pacquiao, a Philippines congressman who’s beaten up an awful lot of Mexicans in his time.
Marquez will earn a $6-million guarantee for the pay-per-view bout at Thomas & Mack Center and Bradley will earn a guaranteed $4.1 million, according to figures released by Nevada commissioner Keith Kizer.
The suggested pay-per-view price will be ten dollars cheaper than the Mayweather-Canelo show. Also on the card: Orlando Cruz versus Orlando Salido for the vacant WBO featherweight belt. Cruz hopes to be the first openly gay fighter to win a world title.
In an exceedingly bold move, two-time Olympic champion Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine will make his pro debut in a ten-rounder against featherweight Jose Ramirez, who’s ranked seventh by the WBO.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in June 2013 by Potomac Books. It can be purchased here.