Pacquiao-Marquez III complete preview
Here’s everything you need to know about the fights Saturday night.
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The undercard features a past-his-prime fighter against a guy who seems averse to truly taking on the very best boxers in his loaded weight class, along with a guy who has one signature win and a whole lot of unanswered questions and an intriguing scrap that would make a great main event on ShoBox.
The main event features a fighter who is a natural featherweight moving up to a catchweight of 144 to face a guy who rivals Denis Lebedev in his insistence on beating up boxers way past their prime.
Without further ado, let’s get to the breakdowns.
Luis Cruz (19-0, 15 KOs) vs. Juan Carlos Burgos (27-1, 19 KOs), junior lightweights
The opening bout of the evening promises to be the best potential all-action fight of the night. You’re getting a Brooklyn street fight that is unlikely to see the bell ring to end the 10th round. As Max Kellerman said last week about Alfredo Angulo-James Kirkland, “This will be a fun fight as long as it lasts.” Make sure the beer, chips and salsa are all out before the bell rings for Round 1 and hang on tight.
Cruz, for his part, has been brought up against generally mediocre opposition, with his biggest wins coming in his last two fights against Martin Honorio and Antonio Davis. Both of those opponents have fought for world titles and made excellent scalps for the up-and-coming Cruz.
Burgos has himself fought for a world title, taking the only loss of his career against Hosumi Hasegawa for the WBC featherweight crown last November in Hasegawa’s backyard. Since that loss, Burgos has moved up in weight and first clobbered Frankie Archuleta in February (an easy second-round TKO) before taking a wide unanimous decision from Gilberto Sanchez Leon in his last fight in July.
This is a great matchup between two evenly-matched fighters. Burgos is more advanced in his career, but his experience should not be intimidating toward the well-managed Cruz, who seeks to show a large audience what he can do in the ring. The winner of this fight will elevate himself to prominence among the contenders at 130 pounds while if the fight is close, the loser will not see too much damage to his career. This promises to be a great fight.
Mike Alvarado (31-0, 22 KOs) vs. Breidis Prescott (24-3, 19 KOs), junior welterweights
If ever a fighter has coasted on a fluke, Breidis Prescott is that guy. A Colombian club fighter at heart, Prescott starched Amir Khan, stopping him in the very first round of their battle in 2008. Since that fight, however, Prescott is 4-3 with only one knockout, a stoppage of tomato can Jason Davis. His losses have all come against the kinds of guys that a true title contender should be able to beat, namely Miguel Vazquez, Kevin Mitchell and most recently Paul McCloskey two months ago.
Prescott has some legitimate pop in his punches, but his stamina is the big question mark. The Colombian frequently loses rounds as the fight goes on, while his knockdowns (most notably against Khan) seem to come in the early stages, suggesting that he hasn’t yet figured out how not to punch himself out.
Alvarado is unbeaten and looks experienced, but his biggest wins have come over Ray Narh and Carlos Molina. Notably, the Molina fight was the last pro loss for the current junior middleweight contender before he moved up from welterweight and rattled off a string of 12 straight wins (yes, including the robbery draw he got against Erislandy Lara. Molina won that fight.) When Molina faced Alvarado, he was not the same fighter.
In a sense, Prescott is the perfect litmus test for the unbeaten Alvarado, since a win, while not completely silencing the critics, would at least add a credible scalp to the resumé of the Colorado native. Meanwhile, Breidis Prescott is running out of chances. The win over Khan is looking more and more like a fluke, and only a genuinely convincing victory, perhaps an early round knockout, will be enough to shut up those folks who say he’s nothing but a Colombian club fighter at heart.
Timothy Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs) vs. Joel Casamayor (38-5-1, 22 KOs), WBO junior welterweight title
If this fight had taken place in 2008, it might have been a classic — a case of the the young rising star Bradley against the aging, but still lively, veteran Casamayor. In the autumn of 2011 and the late autumn of Casamayor’s career, it borders on embarrassing.
This is not the Joel Casamayor we remember from three or five or even 10 years ago, the man who reigned over the junior lightweight division like it was his playground once upon a time. This is a 40-year-old man who hasn’t beaten a championship-caliber opponent since he stopped Michael Katsidis in a fight he was losing on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the time of the 10th-round TKO. That was back in March of 2008.
Juan Manuel Marquez stopped Casamayor in the 11th round of their fight that September and Robert Guerrero has beaten the Cuban as well. Casamayor’s only wins since the Katsidis fight have come against Jason Davis (the fourth of what is now nine straight fights without a win for Davis, including the aforementioned loss to Breidis Prescott) and Manuel Leyva by split decision.
Meanwhile, Timothy Bradley hasn’t fought since his lackluster win over Devon Alexander back in January; in the meantime he found himself stripped of his WBC title over his inactivity. Since graduating from the hobo circuit Bradley hasn’t knocked out anyone remotely of note, but this is not to say that Bradley has no power at all. He has put opponents on the floor (most recently dropping Lamont Peterson in the third round en route to a wide unanimous decision); he just isn’t a finisher. Against an aging fighter whose chin may go on him at any time, this may work to Bradley’s advantage in brutal fashion when some of that power lands on the chin of Casamayor.
Bradley needs to decide what his career is going to be. A fight with Amir Khan would make the most sense. Otherwise Bradley needs to consider moving up to welterweight and making a matchup with Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather in order to shake the rap that he’s just another guy with a puffed-up record and no real Hall of Fame candidacy. Bradley is 28 years old; he cannot wait forever for that career-defining fight, and Joel Casamayor is not a career-defining fight. Not anymore.
Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs), WBO welterweight title (catchweight 144 lbs.)
The "catchweight champion of the world," Manny Pacquiao, the pride of the Philippines, boxing’s most bankable megastar, and an eight-division champ despite having taken the junior middleweight title while weighing in below the welterweight limit . . . you want a bio, go read People Magazine.
As a fighter, love him or hate him, there’s no denying the fact that he’s Bob Arum’s baby. This pay-per-view will do very little to dispel the notion that all of Pacman’s fights above junior lightweight have been carefully engineered money-making contests rather than genuine contests of pugilistic prowess.
All of the above doesn’t seem to matter to Marquez, however. He is looking to avenge what he believes to be two robberies at the hands of the judges in the pair’s previous fights and prove that he can move up beyond his lightweight domain despite Floyd Mayweather beating him badly the only other time Marquez did exactly that.
In the words of Bill Nye, “consider the following.” Even the most ardent fanboy would generally tend to concede that the discussion in boxing’s pound-for-pound ranking is, in what order Mayweather and Pacquiao should be Nos. 1 and 2? This would, once the balance of opinion is considered, suggest that if Mayweather easily handled a guy at welterweight without really breaking much of a sweat, that Pacquiao should at least be able to do the same, styles notwithstanding — and indeed, Pacquiao hits harder and is more aggressive than is Mayweather.
Marquez looked like what he was — an overgrown featherweight — at 142 pounds in the Mayweather fight. It is hard to believe he will look any different Saturday night. Put any coat of paint you want on it, this fight is a mismatch, and a Marquez win, by decision or (especially) by knockout, will be a very grand upset.
That said, anything can happen in boxing, which is why we fans continue to shell out ungodly amounts of money for substandard cards while trying to convince ourselves that we wouldn’t want to miss the next Mickey Ward-Arturo Gatti I just because of the price tag.