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Present at the Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov tilt, it was one of the more exciting contests I can remember covering. Exciting especially for a smattering of Provodnikov fans at the various moments the underdog Russian had WBO welterweight champion Bradley (30-0, 12 KO’s) dazed and confused, seemingly one solid punch away from finishing matters.
On the other hand, whether or not you were pulling for “Desert Storm” you knew it was a done deal if only he would stick to his jab, movement, and overall boxing ability for which Ruslan had no answer. However, Timothy, against the wishes of his support team and in retrospect against his own better judgement, would contribute to the bouts excitement in a seriously detrimental way.
That’s to say Bradley with all of a 38% knockout ratio would choose to trade in the pocket, this after tasting his opponents power to give Provodnikov his only shot at victory. Specifically Tim upright as could be would exchange without the benefit of head movement, leaving his vulnerable chin in the crosshair's of his latest adversary to suffer lingering neurological effects.
This he cannot do against Mexico City’s Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KO’s), one of the most pure combination punchers in the game who’s precision and power in such a scenario will more than likely inflict Tim’s first defeat, while causing the WBO belt to change hands when the two meet this Saturday night at Las Vegas, Nevada’s Thomas & Mack Center.
That’s not to say Tim can’t make it an abbreviated fisticuffs here and there, but becoming too bold for his own good could make it a short night. With that in mind it’s refreshing to hear that Bradley is aware of the pitfalls. “I’m not fighting against a Ruslan Provodnikov, I’m fighting against a tough legend in the sport and I know if he hurts me he’s gonna finish me,” concluded Bradley.
To avoid this scenario as well as aid his cause, the Palm Springs native must utilize his advantages in the speed and athleticism departments. Just as importantly, distance wise “Desert Storm” must be all the way in or all the way out, quite wary upon approach against a man not only hungry for a firefight, but a man who for all of his success is admittedly first and foremost a counter-puncher by trade, looking to take advantage of what comes at him.
Admiring Bradley’s go-get-it style feeling that criticisms for being a dirty fighter via the headbutt are unwarranted, I've been a fan of his for some time. And while knowing when in against sturdy competition his lack of power and suspect whiskers will not allow him to linger about, anything short of delivering quick combinations to then angle away against the wily veteran Marquez will likely to prove disastrous.
All told there is simply no room for error against an uncharacteristically svelte looking Marquez, the seeming 'robo' version of which is nothing to toy with. I mean it’s difficult to deny “Dinamita’s level of refinement is quite advanced from only a few fights ago, this under suspect conditioning coach Angel Heredia, with an apparent surge in power to go along with it so that his assertion he’s a clean fighter has fallen on many a deaf ear.
Sure he invited a skeptical Tim Bradley to see how rigorously he trains, putting in hours long and hard so that he’s he’s developed muscles on top of his muscles. But don’t PED's allow you to do just that, increase training intensity and duration, to reduce recovery time so as to get back at it full force without delay?
Add to this the fact that Marquez balked at undergoing random testing to be administered by VADA, the most comprehensive of testing organizations, and controversy will continue to follow Juan Manuel from here on out.
That aside, PED’s don’t always determine a winner, but that in conjunction with Juan’s high level of experience will present real problems should Bradley once more convince himself he can go toe-to-toe with anybody and everybody.
In this fight I like the Bradley to as the younger man physically do what is necessary to retain his title. However, in this fight I don’t necessarily see Bradley doing what he needs to from a mental standpoint. Not that he can’t adjust as he did say from slugging it out on the inside with Lamont Peterson to boxing circles around him when the former didn't suit his needs.
Having said that, in determining he’s [Bradley] made a mistake or mental error to then try to make appropriate adjustments against the Hall of Fame bound Mexican, this may in and of itself signify that the fight is nearing it’s end, Marquez having already capitalized on a Bradley shortcoming in a big way.
I mean Juan Manuel, who’s adamant about matching Bradley’s speed, doesn't have to score a one-punch kayo. Just putting Tim on unsteady legs will allow a technician like no other to find ways to end matters to win yet another world title, as surely he will not let Tim off the hook as had a more inexperienced Provodnikov.
And when it comes down to that all important intangible, motivation, for the 40-year-old Juan Manuel Marquez fresh off a knockout shot heard round the world that would depose pound-for-pound icon Manny Pacquiao, that comes in the form “Dinamita” trying to become the first Mexican fighter to win five world titles in as many divisions. “It's a great motivation for me. It's a great thing for me because I'd like to be the best Mexican fighter in history,” said Marquez
This stands in stark contrast to Timothy Bradley who is still seeking the recognition he feels he deserves after a controversial win over the Filipino in question. Stated Bradley, “I was supposed to have definitely been a superstar in boxing after beating Manny Pacquiao, but that wasn't the case man. I got no credit for the victory. But this [Marquez bout] gives me another opportunity to beat another superstar in boxing and definitely take his place as he goes out.”
Indeed a clear-cut win for Bradley on HBO Pay-Per-View this weekend over the world’s number 3 ranked fighter will go a long way towards redemption, while taking it a step further Tim feels such an outcome will grant him passage to enter the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes.
Excellent high level match up where fight-fans will come out the winner, as well as Ring Magazine’s number 8 rated Bradley if indeed he’s able pitch the necessary shut-out. Otherwise Tim feeling his oats may forget who and what he’s up against, allowing Marquez to seize the moment.