Juan Manuel Marquez could have fought Manny Pacquiao for a fifth time. Timothy Bradley could have had a rematch with the Filipino congressman.
They both turned down chances to follow up on the biggest victories of their boxing careers. Marquez and Bradley wanted to face each other instead, and they will meet in a welterweight title bout Oct. 12.
Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) and Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) are looking for a chance to be seen outside Pacman’s enormous shadow, and they’ll get it at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
”I feel like I won the last three fights against Pacquiao,” Marquez said Thursday at the Beverly Hills Hotel. ”Now that I finally beat him, I want to keep this feeling for a while. I want to keep it, and I want to fight somebody else.”
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum would have signed either fighter for a rematch with Pacquiao, who instead will take on Brandon Rios in Macau in November. When Bradley and Marquez chose each other, Arum tentatively booked the fight for Sept. 14 before moving it back four weeks when Floyd Mayweather Jr. declared his intention to fight Saul ”Canelo” Alvarez on the same day.
Arum is still confident the matchup will be one of the most intriguing pay-per-view bouts of the year.
”They could have made more money, but this fight isn’t only for money,” Arum said of Bradley and Marquez. ”They’re looking to make history.”
Marquez’s bit of history is obvious: He could become the first Mexican boxer to win five titles in five weight classes, even doing it after his 40th birthday this summer. Marquez knocked out Pacquiao last December, ending a near-decade of frustration against his nemesis with a big overhand right in the sixth round.
”If I want to be the best, I need to beat the best,” Marquez said. ”Bradley is the champion. His style and my style make a great fight. I’m training very hard on my speed, especially for this fight, because speed is the most important thing in it.”
Bradley is seeking history through redemption. The unbeaten bruiser won a decision over Pacquiao last year, but almost nobody outside of Bradley’s corner agreed with the verdict.
Bradley stewed for months over the perceived disrespect from a fight he still believes he won. Although that frustration still hasn’t abated much, he’s confident he’ll finally get the respect he deserves by trouncing Marquez.
”This is the opportunity that I had in the Pacquiao fight that slipped away due to the controversy,” Bradley said. ”I want to become a superstar in boxing. I want to be a household name. I’m a four-time champion, and I’m still not on everybody’s pound-for-pound list. I want to be a superstar, but nothing you get in life is easy. You have to go take it, and that’s what I’m going to do when I win this fight.”
Bradley showed up in Beverly Hills sporting a beard and looking fully healed from his thrilling brawl with Ruslan Provodnikov in March. The Palm Springs-area fighter won new fans while showing a recklessness few imagined he possessed, recovering from severe punishment and dishing out his own shots to win a decision in his first fight since beating Pacquiao.
Bradley has been criticized as a boring fighter with little knockout power, but his win over Provodnikov altered his reputation. That bout even intrigued Marquez, who has been a brutally effective puncher throughout his 15-year pro career.
”I’m trying a different way to train,” Marquez said. ”He’s a very different style of fighter from (Pacquiao). I’d like to win this fight because he has never lost a fight.”
Marquez’s win over Pacquiao boosted his status, but the Mexican star’s buff physique also prompted numerous whispers about the way he achieved it. Marquez and Bradley have signed contracts for their fight, but they’re still sniping about the various methods and agencies for random drug testing.
Bradley said the fight would be off if Marquez doesn’t comply with unnamed testing conditions in the fighters’ contracts.
”I want to prove I’m a clean fighter,” Marquez said. ”It’s no problem.”