By: William Holmes
The last two men to defeat Manny Pacquiao square off against each other on Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. First ballot half of famer Juan Manuel Marquez looks to win a world title in another weight class before retiring and the always tough and often unappreciated Timothy Bradley hopes to add another impressive name to his undefeated resume.
The undercard will also feature the professional debut of Vasyl Lomachenko against Jose Ramriez and fast rising light heavyweight prospect Seanie Monaghan against Anthony Caputo Smith. Lomachenko and Monaghan should both easily win their bouts.
Orlando Salido and Orlando Cruz will also be battling for the WBO Featherweight title as the co-main event. The following is a preview of the world title bouts.
Orlando Salido (39-12-2) vs. Orlando Cruz (20-2-1); WBO Featherweight Title
Orlando Cruz is more famous for what he has done outside of the ring than inside of it. Last year Cruz became the first professional boxer to come out as gay while he was still competing professionally.
That act takes a lot of courage in a sport that is as violent and brutal as boxing.
Crus however is a legitimate contender and represented Puerto Rico at the 2000 Olympic Games. He’s the same age as Salido and will be the slightly shorter man inside the ring. Cruz is also a southpaw, but he’s nowhere near as battle tested as Orlando Salido.
Cruz has ten stoppages on his resume, including a sixth round knockout over Aalan Martinez in March of this year and three of his last four fights. His two losses came by stoppage in 2009 and 2010. He was stopped in the fifth by Cornelius Lock in September of 2009 and stopped in the third by Daniel Ponce DeLeon in February of 2010.
Cruz has only fought four times since 2009 and that could hurt him inside the ring. He’s defeated the likes of Michael Franco, Leonilo Miranda, and Aalan Martinez. He’s a solid fighter, but he’s a big underdog against Orlando Salido.
Salido is the same age as Cruz but has a vast edge in experience. His last fight was an 8th round stoppage to the extremely talented Mikey Garcia in January of this year. Before that he upset Juan Manuel Lopez twice by stoppage.
Salido’s losses have either come early in his career or to potential hall of famers. He’s lost to Mikey Garcia, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Juan Manuel Marquez, and others prior to 2001.
Salido has power, he’s stopped 27 of his opponents while Cruz has only stopped 10. Salido can also take a punch. He was taking the best that Garcia had to offer and was coming on strong before the referee was forced to stop the bout and go to the scorecards due to a broken nose from a headbutt on Mikey Garcia.
Cruz is a good story, but he’s in over his head against Salido. Look for Salido to come out aggressive and end this bout early.
Timothy Bradley (30-0) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6); WBO Welterweight Title
Marquez is a lion inside the ring and his physical strength and conditioning has only improved as he has gotten older.
Many are aware that Marquez is working with a trainer who has a “tainted” past, but as long as Marquez does not test negative one has to assume that he has added the extra bulk and strength through natural means.
Marquez has made it known that he does not plan on fighting much longer. His devastating and memorable knockout of Manny Pacquiao has cemented his legacy as one of boxing’s all time greats.
Marquez has 40 stoppages on his record but most of them have come at the lighter weights. He’ll be one inch taller than Bradley but will be giving up two inches in reach to him. Many boxers have found success north of the age of 40 such as Bernard Hopkins and George Foreman. Very few have done it while being in the type of physical shape as Marquez.
Marquez’s notable victories include Manny Pacquiao, Michael Katsidis, Juan Diaz, Joel Casamayor, Rocky Juarez, and Marco Antonio Barrera. His notable losses include Floyd Mayweather Jr., Chris John, and debatable losses to Manny Pacquiao.
Timothy Bradley is coming off of a hotly contested war with Ruslan Provodnikov in March of this year which saw Bradley win a very close decision. Bradley was knocked down in the 12th round and nearly out on his feet multiple times throughout the fight.
To this day Bradley still talks about the lingering effects of the concussion he suffered against Provodnikov. One has to wonder if those effects have fully worn off.
Many felt that Timothy Bradley was given a gift when he defeated Manny Pacquiao by split decision in June of 2012. However, many fail to point out that Bradley badly injured his ankles early on in the fight and he did perform better than expected.
Bradley does not have the power of Marquez and has not faced the high caliber of competition that Marquez has, but Bradley’s boxing skills are not inferior to that of Marquez.
Bradley has shown that he has a good chin. He has also shown that he’s willing to go to war. He is an underrated defensive fighter. He baffled Devon Alexander in January of 2011 and beat him by a clear decision. He has also defeated the Lamont Peterson, Luis Carlos Abregu, and Joel Casamayor.
Bradley also has age on his side. He’s only 30 years old and is also in peak physical condition. If the effects of his concussion from Provodnikov he can out box and defeat Marquez. But if he hasn’t fully recovered from his last bout he could be in some serious trouble.
This bout will close and exciting, but it is Bradley’s fight to lose.