By Ivan G. Goldman
Timothy Bradley has never proved himself as a pay-per-view draw, which is why he agreed to take less money than his opponent Juan Manuel Marquez in their Saturday night showdown in Las Vegas even though it’s Bradley who holds the WBO welterweight title.
Marquez is guaranteed $6-million and Bradley $4.1 million, according to Nevada commissioner Keith Kizer. Both fighters could end up with more, depending on the size of the PPV audience. But the outlook for the number of purchases doesn’t look particularly promising. Marquez has a solid fan base, but at $65 per high-def home view, loyalty can turn spongy.
A can’t-miss undercard would sure help, but frankly, there isn’t one. In the second-to-last bout Orlando Salido, 39-12-2 (27 KOs) takes on Orlando Cruz, 20-2-1 (10 KOs) for the WBO featherweight title. The big intrigue here is whether Cruz, who’s never showed world-class ability, can become the first openly gay fighter to win a world title. Whoopee. Salido is a tough dude who was too much for heavy-fisted Juan Manuel Lopez in March 2012, stopping him in the tenth round on Lopez’s home ground in Puerto Rico. It was one heck of a fight. World-beater Mikey Garcia was also too much for him, but Salido, as usual, gave his best.
As for Cruz, he brings plenty of emotional drive to this event, but Daniel Ponce De Leon once took him out with a third-round body shot, and he was also stopped by Cornelius Locke, another good featherweight who can’t seem to hang with the top guys. It’s possible these two will put on an entertaining contest, but neither of them is any sort of a draw. Under normal circumstances it might be a decent show for ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. On the other hand, it might not.
The most intriguing undercard match pits two-time Olympic Gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko against the WBO’s seventh-ranked Jose Luis Ramirez, 25-3 (15 KOs). It’s a bold move for Lomachenko, a Ukrainian in a hurry who’s making his debut in a ten-rounder. But the very fact that it’s his first pro fight tells us he’s pretty much of an unknown quantity. Sure, fans might like to check him out, but how many will spend $65 to do it? Under normal circumstances the promoter would have to do a lot of talking to get this match on ESPN2.
Sean Monaghan, 18-0 (11 KOs), versus Anthony Smith, 14-1 (10 KOs), features two light heavyweights who’ve never been tested against top guys. And Monaghan is already 32 years old. We can always hope this will be a breakthrough contest for both of them and unforgettable to anyone who sees it. But that’s only a wild hope, and fans don’t put out serious PPV money on such wild hopes.
No, the main event will have to carry this card. It features two very solid fighters who have great talent and determination. And of course they both beat Manny Pacquiao and both declined to fight him in Macau, China next month under the auspices of Top Rank’s Bob Arum, whose connections to the casino industry there are tight.
As fighters move up the ranks and face tougher opposition their KOs don’t come as easily, and that’s been the case with Bradley, 30-0 (12 KOs). He probably doesn’t have sufficient pop to stop tough Marquez, a counterpunching wizard, which means Bradley’s best hope for victory is by decision. Marquez of course showed tremendous power when he stopped Pacquiao with one right hand last December, but it won’t be easy to get in that kind of shot against Bradley, a boxer with excellent tactical skills. Among those skills is the ability to rack up “accidental” head butts that almost always seem to help his cause and not his opponent’s. But Marquez, 55-6-1 (40 KOs), has seen everything, including skulls swinging in his direction. And that’s also his Achilles heel. He’s seen everything because he’s 40 years old. Bradley, 30, is in his prime.
It’s a pick-em contest in Las Vegas, where score cards sometimes leave the audience gasping in horror. But assuming the scores are competent and legit, this one could be close.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in June 2013 by Potomac Books. It can be purchased here.