LAS VEGAS — Long after many media members had left Saturday night’s press conference at Thomas & Mack Center, WBO welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley was asked to recall details of the split-decision victory he had scored scarcely an hour earlier over Juan Manuel Marquez.
A man who turned 40 in August and whom Bradley (31-0, 12 knockouts) called “a clever fighter” and “one of the best in the world, “Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) represented the third straight difficult bout for Bradley, who had mostly dominated his previous 28 opponents.
Judges Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse Jarman scored the fight for Bradley, 115-113 and 116-112, respectively, and Glenn Feldman scored it 115-113 for Marquez. In his previous fight, Bradley had to rise from a 12th-round knockdown for a unanimous decision in March over Ruslan Provodnikov in defense of the belt he won via controversial split-decision last June over Manny Pacquiao.
Feeling he’d been more dominant against Marquez than he had opposite Pacquiao and Provodnikov, a surprised Bradley muttered, “Oh s___,” upon hearing Feldman’s score, the first to be read by ring announcer Michael Buffer.
“I was killing him. I’m not a judge, and I don’t really know what they’re missing. A lot of the times when he was landing punches, and he did hit me with some clean punches — I’m not going to lie, he did,” said Bradley. “But a lot of his punches were coming off of the gloves and the arms, so I was blocking and rolling and getting underneath of his punches. But they probably counted those rounds.”
Bradley said that he felt similarly about the triumphs over Pacquiaoa and Provodnikov, although he felt that the Marquez win was far more convincing.
“I definitely felt like this was the cleaner win. I feel that I controlled the action throughout the fight. Toward the end of the fight, I felt that he definitely changed the momentum and changed the pace, but I was able to hold on and I was able to adjust myself and land some good punches on him as well,” said Bradley.
“But like I said, I’m not a judge, so I really don’t know what they’re missing. I box smart, I use my head in there. Tonight, I was using the jab. I was popping him. I was making him miss and making him pay. I was landing body shots, good left hooks and right hands, I was landing at will. I was doing it all. I had fun tonight.”
Bradley also dethroned Kendall Holt by unanimous decision for the WBO’s 140-pound belt in 2009 — rising from two knockdowns to do so — and he owns a unanimous decision over current IBF lightweight titleholder Miguel Vazquez.
After facing Abregu as a welterweight in 2010, and then vanquishing Alexander as a junior welterweight in 2011, Bradley scored knockdowns in the fifth, sixth and final rounds of an eighth-round knockout of former Olympic gold medalist and ex-beltholder Joel Casamayor.
Bradley has also scored a split-decision over former world titleholder Junior Witter, whom he dethroned for the WBC junior welterweight belt — his first title — in May of 2008.
Although Bradley and his trainer, Joel Diaz, praised Marquez and Diaz’s counterpart, Mexican legend Nacho Beristain, Marquez and Beristain were disparaging of their conquerors during their post-fight remarks.
Marquez took the podium without acknowledging Bradley with even a glance, let alone a handshake or embrace, and said, “I need to be scared of the judges more than my opponents.” Beristain called Bradley, “very lucky,” adding, “He’s the only undefeated fighter with two losses,” the latter being a reference to the Pacquiao bout.
Still, Bradley has faith that, in the end, boxing history will be kind to his legacy.
“I feel that I’m finally going to get my just due. I feel that I am finally one of the best fighters in the world, and the fact that everybody thought that I won the fight, that’s fantastic,” said Bradley. “With that being said, I should get the credit. I didn’t grimace. I didn’t grimace at all. If I had to fight tomorrow, I’m ready to go 12 more rounds.”
Photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank (1,3); Jeff Bottari-Getty Images (2)
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com