Timothy Bradley: Bradley now deserves the respect he feels unfairly eluded him after his controversial victory over Manny Pacquiao. Against Ruslan Provodnikov, he proved he can win a fight out of his counterpunching comfort zone. Against Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday in Las Vegas, he proved he can outbox a future hall of famer who can still bring it at 40. Bradley (31-0, 12 knockouts) used his jab and quick feet to control most of the fight and then got enough done when Marquez made adjustments and became more effective. It wasn’t a great performance but it was a very good one. And it definitely wasn’t controversial even if you believe Marquez eked out a victory. I could see it no closer than 115-113 for Bradley. Thus, any doubts about Bradley that lingered after the Pacquiao fight and a near disaster against Provodnikov were largely erased on Saturday. Bradley clearly is one of the best fighters in the world.
Juan Manuel Marquez: Marquez demonstrated that he can fight on fairly even terms with a younger, quicker opponent with considerable experience, which says a lot about the Mexican star. And if you give him the benefit of every doubt – which is unreasonable – one could argue that he won seven rounds and the fight. He did land more power punches, according to CompuBox. However, in my opinion, the scoring of Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse Jarman (115-113 and 116-112 for Bradley) was on the money. Marquez was outhustled almost from beginning to end. That brings us to his reaction after the fight: “We came to win and we did. The judges saw something else.” Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) deserves some slack because he HAS been on the wrong end of more than one controversial decision. Still, on Saturday, he came off like a crybaby. I can see complaining when you’ve earned a clear victory. That certainly wasn’t the case against Bradley.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Orlando Salido: Salido isn’t as good as Mikey Garcia but he’s still pretty damn good. The 32-year-old Mexican cut through Orlando Cruz on the Bradley-Marquez card like a hot knife through butter, landing one hard punch – including that crazy overhand right – after another. Cruz, who didn’t have the firepower to keep Salido off of him, absorbed many of the big shots but was ultimately broken down. The ending was brutal. Cruz’s back was against the ropes when Salido landed a hard right to his neck and followed with a left uppercut, which sent Cruz to his knees. He clearly could not fight any longer. As a result, Salido (40-12-2, 28 KOs) won a major 126-pound title for the fourth time. Now he’s the subject of talk that he could face Ukrainian sensation Vasyl Lomachenko, whose skill level and all-around ability far exceeds his own. I wouldn’t count Salido out, though. He is experienced and extremely tough. He might not be the type of fighter an upstart – even one as good as Lomachenko – should mess with.
BIGGEST LOSER II
Orlando Cruz: Cruz (20-3-1, 10 KOs) could just as easily be BIGGEST WINNER III. Yes, he was beaten badly by Salido in his first fight for a major title. He has a great deal of skill and athleticism but one needs some punching power to keep a monster like Salido at bay. And Cruz doesn’t have it. What he does have is conviction and courage. Cruz recently became the first boxer to openly acknowledge that his gay, which took at least as much guts as stepping into the ring with a slugger like Salido. No, Cruz won’t be remembered for a strong performance in the ring on Saturday night. He will be remembered for advancing the cause of tolerance, which is a far bigger accomplishment that winning a boxing title. And, for the record, Cruz isn’t finished as a fighter. He’s good. He’ll have more success. If he proved one thing, it’s that he has determination.
Vasyl Lomachenko: First of all, Lomachenko’s fourth-round knockout of Jose Ramirez (25-4, 15 KOs) on the Bradley-Marquez card wasn’t the two-time Olympic champion’s pro debut. He was paid to take part in the World Series of Boxing, a professional competition which allows its participants to retain their eligibility to take part in the Olympics. First pro fight, seventh pro fight … it really doesn’t matter. The man is something to behold at first glance. Lomachenko lived up to his unfathomable amateur record of 396-1. The Ukrainian appears to have it all – sharpshooting offensive skills, slick defensive moves and good power, as well as uncommon poise for a fighter still transitioning into the pro ranks. I think it’s too early to declare him a future superstar. That was said of other great amateurs of the past, including Mark Breland, who never reached that status. There are no guarantees. Only one thing is certain: It will be fun to see how Lomachenko evolves.
Bradley should have a talk with his father, Ray. The fighter heard two voices coming from his corner the entire fight on Saturday – that of Ray and trainer Joel Diaz – which had to be distracting. Diaz is the man in charge. His voice should be the only one the fighter hears. … The scoring of Bradley-Marquez was all over the place. Consider: Hoyle and Morse Jarman, both of whom had Bradley winning, had opposite scores in each of the last three rounds. Hoyle had Marquez winning all three, Jarman the opposite. … I had it 116-112 for Bradley but I could see a score of 115-113 for the winner. In my opinion, even a draw would have been an injustice. That said, I don’t think Glenn Feldman’s card (115-113 for Marquez) was horrible. Just wrong. … Jessie Vargas (23-0, 9 KOs) outpointed Ray Narh (26-4, 21 KOs) on Friday in Las Vegas. Vargas has victories over some good fighters, including Josesito Lopez. He deserves more credit than he receives.