Last night (Oct. 12, 2013) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Timothy Bradley successfully defended his World Boxing Organization (WBO) Welterweight title against Juan Manuel Marquez on HBO pay-per-view (PPV). The fight went the full twelve rounds and Bradley was awarded a split decision victory.
For twelve rounds, Bradley strategically picked Marquez apart, forcing the Mexican fighter off his game and rhythm. He was always one step ahead and utilized a stiff jab to halt any momentum that Marquez thought about building. And when he was caught in exchanges, he was the faster puncher.
It was a masterful performance and one that should have earned Bradley the respect of everyone who tuned in to watch the bout. He was robbed of a feel good moment when he won a split decision over Manny Pacquiao as many fans and media felt that it was a crooked call.
Here was a fighter who defeated one of the best boxers on the planet and he was unable to tastefully celebrate because the pro-Pacquiao crowd cried foul. Instead of reveling in his career defining victory, he was forced to stay quiet and take in all the criticism.
He believed that with a victory over Marquez, he would finally be recognized as a top fighter. And in his post-fight interview, he remained respectful of Marquez in front of the very pro-Marquez crowd in attendance. He didn't put down his opponent. Instead he just wanted people to recognize him for his accomplishment.
Unfortunately, his moment was sullied when HBO's analyst Max Kellerman spoke with Marquez and trainer Ignacio 'Nacho' Beristain in the ring. Immediately, Marquez fell back on the old classic by blaming the judges and their incompetency for getting the decision wrong. He said he has to be "scared of the judges" instead of his opponents when fighting in Las Vegas.
Beristain was even more direct, claiming that Bradley is the "only undefeated fighter with two loses", a reference to the Pacquiao decision. I shouldn't have to tell you how uncalled for it is to make this type of comment, especially in the wake of bout that wasn't really all that close.
Yes it was a split decision, but on my card, Bradley ran away with it. He was just the better man and nearly had Marquez finished in the tenth and twelfth rounds. Marquez on the other hand, never had Bradley in much danger. And Baristain, instead of urging Marquez to push the pace, ensured his fighter that was clearly ahead.
Mind you, this all happened while Bradley stood by in the ring, completely silent. There was no aggressive response as fight fans have come to expect. Instead the only reaction was a noticeable clenching of his jaw.
Bradley can leave Las Vegas knowing that even in the face of adversity and criticism, he handled himself with grace and respect. It may not have earned him the adoration of the fans in attendance last night but it eventually will.
And while Marquez likely will never learn how to lose admirably, maybe he'll eventually learn to treat his opponents with respect after a defeat. It's just a shame that it didn't happen at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night.