Timothy Bradley could be Juan Manuel Marquez's "backup plan." (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Though Juan Manuel Marquez is focused on landing a fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao for big money if his terms can be met, the 38-year-old Mexican star has now made clear that retirement is not in his plans, as he had previously said it could be, and that it's not simply Pacquiao or bust anymore.
Ernesto Castellanos of notifight.com (via BoxingScene.com) reports that Marquez is interested in fighting top junior welterweight Timothy Bradley if a Pacquiao fight can't be made:
"If [the Pacquiao fight] is not made soon, then I look for another great opportunity, like Timothy Bradley, the WBO's junior welterweight champion," Marquez said. "[Morales] is a great fighter, very good, but there are other opponents who are bigger, like Bradley. I want to face the best, and that's what I remember Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns doing."
Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KO) says he's interested in fighting one or two more years, noting that no matter how much money he makes, boxing is dangerous and "you can't buy another brain."
As for Timothy Bradley, he's interested in the fight, as you'd expect. Ryan Burton of BoxingScene.com spoke with Bradley after the Marquez quotes went out:
"I want to fight Pacquiao but facing Marquez is another fight that I want. That would be a great fight. ... That is the fight I need to get PacMan. If I beat Marquez it will show my worth and PacMan will not deny me. And I will beat Marquez."
Bradley (28-0, 12 KO) signed with Top Rank in order to land big-name opponents, and right now there aren't many who are bigger name than Marquez. Pacquiao, of course, is one who is -- and that is definitely still Bradley's ultimate goal, same as it is JMM's.
What I could see happening is Top Rank setting up two fights: Pacquiao against Miguel Cotto in a rematch of their 2009 fight, and Marquez against Timothy Bradley. I'm not certain how enthusiastic Top Rank is to make Pacquiao vs Marquez IV, simply because Marquez is calling some shots this time. He'll want more than the $5 million from November. He won't fight in Las Vegas. And, well, he's stylistically a pain in Manny Pacquiao's ass, and everyone now knows that more than ever.
There's big money in Cotto, who will gladly fight in Vegas, and possibly for less money than Marquez will want now (Cotto made $5 million plus PPV to fight Antonio Margarito on December 3).
Bradley, 28, is the youngest of all these fighters, and the one who has the most future at Top Rank. A fight with Marquez would probably be 50-50ish on paper, but I expect a good matchmaker would favor Bradley in that one, and Top Rank has the best matchmakers in the sport, in my opinion.
What do you think shakes out when all is said and done here? Pacquiao is going to fight in the spring, likely now on May 5, and the others involved here will need to fight, too.