Subscribe here to DAZN & Watch Canelo Alvarez fight Rocky Fielding Sat Night FREE with a 30 day trial!

Speed Kills: Bradley Triumphs over an Ageing Marquez


By Tyson Bruce

This weekend’s PPV card gave Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley, two fighters who have often been lost in the long shadows cast by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio, their big opportunity to have the show all to themselves. This was a rare matchup by boxing standards, in that it was genuinely regarded as a 50/50 fight. The fight was not quite the seismic collision that some predicated it would be, but it provided a great technical contest and, thankfully, a decision in a close fight that went to the correct fighter. The televised undercard, which featured some unique selections and matchups, for the most part lived up to the billing, with only one selection blatantly seemingly out of place.

Bradley_Marquez_131012_004a
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank

The HBO card began in a somewhat contrived fashion, with Sean Monaghan, Top Rank’s latest hype creation, taking on Anthony Smith. Monaghan has been branded as a “throw back” fighter to the 1940’s because of his blue-collar roots as a bricklayer and his crude aggressive fighting style. Sounds kind of fun, right? And, I’m sure that’s what Top Rank and HBO were going for when they rewarded him with a premium exposure slot on a major PPV undercard against a plodding unskilled portly white fellow that no one had ever heard of. In an age when live television dates are extremely rare and where branding of talented fighters is a constant challenge, this was not excusable. The counter point to this would be that no one ever buys a PPV or judges its success on the first televised fight; but couldn’t Top Rank have given that spot to one of its coveted and talented prospects, who have probably been boxing their whole lives and fought hundreds of amateur fights for an opportunity just like the one given to Monaghan? Monaghan has had 15 amateur fights and won no major titles. The reason why Monaghan got the opportunity and not one of those other fellows is, of course, because of boxing’s eternal love affaire with white Irish Catholic fighters—which for promoters is better than gold. I call it Gerry Cooney syndrome; only as far as I can tell Monaghan has a long way to go before he is even reaches that level of skill. Naturally, Monaghan went through Smith with relative ease, in something that resembled a co-main event you might see on an ESPN Friday Night Fights card. Monaghan is dubiously ranked in the top 20 by both the WBA and IBF at light heavyweight. So, just to put this in perspective, imagine him fighting Adonis Stevenson or Sergei Kovalev? It would something akin to watching a father put a baseball on a batting t and telling his son to swing away as hard as he can. Although we won’t see this happen any time soon, I’d still rather not watch him fight stiffs for huge checks on premium cards. After all, don’t we already have Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. for that?

The second bout featured the professional debut of Ukrainian amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko against the respected 25-3 Jose Ramirez. The Ukrainian didn’t disappoint as he used his speed, deft footwork, and extremely well placed body shots to make mincemeat out of his opponent. Lomachenko almost finished the job in the very first round courtesy of a nifty left uppercut body shot, a punch very similar to the one used by Guillermo Rigondeaux and Lucian Bute. Over the course of the bout there were only a few criticisms of Lomachenko that could be made: the lack of a solid jab (something that in today’s amateur system is seldom used because of the computer scoring system), and turning his body into his headshots to gain maximum power. Those are minor technical errors that, given his enormous athletic talent, could very easily be perfected by working with American trainers and sparring partners. Overall, it was a fantastic debut against a very challenging and experienced opponent, and it goes to show that when a guy has that many amateur fights he doesn’t need to be babied by fighting guys with sub-500 records for his first 15 fights; Garry Russell and company take note.

The third, and perhaps most entertaining of the evening, featured Orlando Salido gradually grinding down and pummeling a very brave Orlando Cruz. The fight gained a tremendous amount of publicity because Cruz is boxing’s first openly gay fighter, making the fight have historic social implications. Overall, the promotion and broadcast team handled the delicate subject matter with refreshing class and appropriately balanced the coverage between Cruz’s sexuality and the fight itself. The fight was a classic style match-up between the pressure fighter (Salido) and the boxer (Cruz), with the experience and harder punches of Salido ultimately prevailing. Cruz has nothing to hang his head about because when Salido is on his game, which he clearly was last night, he is a rock wall that only the very top fighters are able to climb. Salido put constant and effective pressure on Cruz with his trademark awkward aggression and corkscrew overhand right, a punch that would eventually end the fight in the seventh round. Salido showed that he is far from a spent fighter and put himself in contention for bigger fights, with the possibility of fighting amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko in his next bout.

In an article earlier this week I speculated that the fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley could be a very special because there was something greater at stake than simply a purse—that history and respect were on the table to be won. As it happened, the fight itself turned out to be more of a high-speed chess match than the slugfest that some people predicted. After the fight, which Bradley won largely because of his speed and athleticism, certain things became abundantly clear to me: Marquez is not quite the fighter that he used to be. He was no longer able to put together those four and five punch combinations, he struggled to counter Bradley’s quick jab with his patented straight right hand, and he got hit cleaner a lot more often than he used to. These were all things that were beginning to show in his last bout against Pacquaio, but were exacerbated here because of Bradley’s movement and cautious boxing strategy. Marquez has always struggled with fighters who possess deft footwork, and, at times, this fight resembled his fight with Floyd Mayweather, when he struggled to be effective when he was forced to be the more offensive fighter. This was devastating to him on the scorecards, as Bradley’s greater output in virtually every round carried great favor with the Las Vegas judges—who, as Marquez should be well aware, often lean towards the more active fighter.

Before the fight, I speculated whether Bradley would finally be able to put all the pieces together and deliver a dominating performance. While he was very impressive, he clearly hasn’t silenced all of the doubters, as evidenced by the torrent of boos that echoed the decision in his favor. The biggest reason for this is because Bradley just doesn’t punch hard enough to really dent the top end fighters. The judging in his bouts are often a point of contention because it frequently becomes a study in contrast between his more active flurries versus his opponents less frequent but often harder more defining blows. This was the case in his fights against Kendall Holt, Manny Pacquaio, Ruslan Provodnikov—and yet again, Juan Manuel Marquez. I strongly disagreed with the wide scoring in favor of Bradley by the HBO commentary team, who, in the absence of Larry Merchant, have had a tendency of falling into “group think”, which has led to one sided broadcasts that differ greatly with the scoring of those at press row. Just remember the wide scores for Pacquaio over Marquez in their third fight, which were widely discredited by fans and media. In total, I scored the fight 115-113 for Bradley, something that seemed in line with the vast majority of ringside observers, give or a take a round. Criticism of Bradley’s power aside, it was a tremendous victory for Bradley, who again showed the diversity of his game.

After the fight Bradley proclaimed that he was now in the top three pound for pound, something that could certainly be argued to be true. The real question is whether Bradley has the power or standout assets that will carry him to the top of the list, and for now, I sense that answer likely remains no.Speed Kills—Bradley Triumphs over an Ageing Marquez & Undercard Results.

This weekend’s PPV card gave Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley, two fighters who have often been lost in the long shadows cast by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio, their big opportunity to have the show all to themselves. This was a rare matchup by boxing standards, in that it was genuinely regarded as a 50/50 fight. The fight was not quite the seismic collision that some predicated it would be, but it provided a great technical contest and, thankfully, a decision in a close fight that went to the correct fighter. The televised undercard, which featured some unique selections and matchups, for the most part lived up to the billing, with only one selection blatantly seemingly out of place.

The HBO card began in a somewhat contrived fashion, with Sean Monaghan, Top Rank’s latest hype creation, taking on Anthony Smith. Monaghan has been branded as a “throw back” fighter to the 1940’s because of his blue-collar roots as a bricklayer and his crude aggressive fighting style. Sounds kind of fun, right? And, I’m sure that’s what Top Rank and HBO were going for when they rewarded him with a premium exposure slot on a major PPV undercard against a plodding unskilled portly white fellow that no one had ever heard of. In an age when live television dates are extremely rare and where branding of talented fighters is a constant challenge, this was not excusable. The counter point to this would be that no one ever buys a PPV or judges its success on the first televised fight; but couldn’t Top Rank have given that spot to one of its coveted and talented prospects, who have probably been boxing their whole lives and fought hundreds of amateur fights for an opportunity just like the one given to Monaghan? Monaghan has had 15 amateur fights and won no major titles. The reason why Monaghan got the opportunity and not one of those other fellows is, of course, because of boxing’s eternal love affaire with white Irish Catholic fighters—which for promoters is better than gold. I call it Gerry Cooney syndrome; only as far as I can tell Monaghan has a long way to go before he is even reaches that level of skill. Naturally, Monaghan went through Smith with relative ease, in something that resembled a co-main event you might see on an ESPN Friday Night Fights card. Monaghan is dubiously ranked in the top 20 by both the WBA and IBF at light heavyweight. So, just to put this in perspective, imagine him fighting Adonis Stevenson or Sergei Kovalev? It would something akin to watching a father put a baseball on a batting t and telling his son to swing away as hard as he can. Although we won’t see this happen any time soon, I’d still rather not watch him fight stiffs for huge checks on premium cards. After all, don’t we already have Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. for that?

The second bout featured the professional debut of Ukrainian amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko against the respected 25-3 Jose Ramirez. The Ukrainian didn’t disappoint as he used his speed, deft footwork, and extremely well placed body shots to make mincemeat out of his opponent. Lomachenko almost finished the job in the very first round courtesy of a nifty left uppercut body shot, a punch very similar to the one used by Guillermo Rigondeaux and Lucian Bute. Over the course of the bout there were only a few criticisms of Lomachenko that could be made: the lack of a solid jab (something that in today’s amateur system is seldom used because of the computer scoring system), and turning his body into his headshots to gain maximum power. Those are minor technical errors that, given his enormous athletic talent, could very easily be perfected by working with American trainers and sparring partners. Overall, it was a fantastic debut against a very challenging and experienced opponent, and it goes to show that when a guy has that many amateur fights he doesn’t need to be babied by fighting guys with sub-500 records for his first 15 fights; Garry Russell and company take note.

The third, and perhaps most entertaining of the evening, featured Orlando Salido gradually grinding down and pummeling a very brave Orlando Cruz. The fight gained a tremendous amount of publicity because Cruz is boxing’s first openly gay fighter, making the fight have historic social implications. Overall, the promotion and broadcast team handled the delicate subject matter with refreshing class and appropriately balanced the coverage between Cruz’s sexuality and the fight itself. The fight was a classic style match-up between the pressure fighter (Salido) and the boxer (Cruz), with the experience and harder punches of Salido ultimately prevailing. Cruz has nothing to hang his head about because when Salido is on his game, which he clearly was last night, he is a rock wall that only the very top fighters are able to climb. Salido put constant and effective pressure on Cruz with his trademark awkward aggression and corkscrew overhand right, a punch that would eventually end the fight in the seventh round. Salido showed that he is far from a spent fighter and put himself in contention for bigger fights, with the possibility of fighting amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko in his next bout.

In an article earlier this week I speculated that the fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley could be a very special because there was something greater at stake than simply a purse—that history and respect were on the table to be won. As it happened, the fight itself turned out to be more of a high-speed chess match than the slugfest that some people predicted. After the fight, which Bradley won largely because of his speed and athleticism, certain things became abundantly clear to me: Marquez is not quite the fighter that he used to be. He was no longer able to put together those four and five punch combinations, he struggled to counter Bradley’s quick jab with his patented straight right hand, and he got hit cleaner a lot more often than he used to. These were all things that were beginning to show in his last bout against Pacquaio, but were exacerbated here because of Bradley’s movement and cautious boxing strategy. Marquez has always struggled with fighters who possess deft footwork, and, at times, this fight resembled his fight with Floyd Mayweather, when he struggled to be effective when he was forced to be the more offensive fighter. This was devastating to him on the scorecards, as Bradley’s greater output in virtually every round carried great favor with the Las Vegas judges—who, as Marquez should be well aware, often lean towards the more active fighter.

Before the fight, I speculated whether Bradley would finally be able to put all the pieces together and deliver a dominating performance. While he was very impressive, he clearly hasn’t silenced all of the doubters, as evidenced by the torrent of boos that echoed the decision in his favor. The biggest reason for this is because Bradley just doesn’t punch hard enough to really dent the top end fighters. The judging in his bouts are often a point of contention because it frequently becomes a study in contrast between his more active flurries versus his opponents less frequent but often harder more defining blows. This was the case in his fights against Kendall Holt, Manny Pacquaio, Ruslan Provodnikov—and yet again, Juan Manuel Marquez. I strongly disagreed with the wide scoring in favor of Bradley by the HBO commentary team, who, in the absence of Larry Merchant, have had a tendency of falling into “group think”, which has led to one sided broadcasts that differ greatly with the scoring of those at press row. Just remember the wide scores for Pacquaio over Marquez in their third fight, which were widely discredited by fans and media. In total, I scored the fight 115-113 for Bradley, something that seemed in line with the vast majority of ringside observers, give or a take a round. Criticism of Bradley’s power aside, it was a tremendous victory for Bradley, who again showed the diversity of his game.

After the fight Bradley proclaimed that he was now in the top three pound for pound, something that could certainly be argued to be true. The real question is whether Bradley has the power or standout assets that will carry him to the top of the list, and for now, I sense that answer likely remains no.

Watch Canelo Alvarez Make his return Saturday night against Rocky Fielding only on DAZN!

Leave a Comment

More Columns