If Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley are true to their word, Manny Pacquiao will be looking elsewhere for his next opponent. Marquez says he's going to announce his next fight on Monday, April 15, and that he wants Timothy Bradley. Bradley, too, says that's the fight he wants.
Both scored wins over Manny Pacquiao last year, with Marquez sending shockwaves through boxing with an emphatic knockout in December, which followed Bradley's incredibly controversial decision win over Pacquiao in June.
Marquez has said repeatedly that he's not looking to face Pacquiao a fifth time, despite that it represents a massive, career-high payday. Skeptics remain on this matter, as many in the media and boxing's global fan base still don't think the Mexican superstar can turn down the sort of money another Pacquiao fight would bring him, but for now, he is sticking to that:
Marquez has stated that he's seeking a world title in another weight class, which he could achieve against Bradley, who holds the WBO welterweight title. Pacquiao holds no belts right now.
"I do not care about a fifth fight [with Pacquiao], after what happened in the first three fights where there were controversial decisions, controversial where we had actually won and in this fourth fight we had a great victory and I would be very satisfied to let the memory of that remain, and to keep that feeling in place for myself, and also, for the Mexicans. We must go forward, pursue new goals, new directions. And for me to have had four fights with someone they had rated as the best pound for pound - and I made it clear that he is not the best pound for pound - searching for new challenges is important."
Bradley understands he would be the underdog again, but is OK with that role:
"I want Marquez. He's the guy who knocked out Pacquiao. You got two guys who defeated Pacquiao going at it. Let's see who the best is. A lot of people, especially after seeing me fight Provodnikov, a lot of people will bet against me, but I tell you this. Don't bet against me because you'll lose your money again."
Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KO) is a bigger star than he has ever been, but in all likelihood, he still isn't a draw on the level of a Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, particularly on pay-per-view. Marquez-Bradley is a very good fight without question; despite the fact that few believe Bradley truly won against Manny last year, we're still talking about a terrific, in-prime fighter, who is coming off of a Fight of the Year candidate against Ruslan Provodnikov on March 16.
But can Bradley (30-0, 12 KO) help Marquez draw a good pay-per-view number? We're not even talking the 1,000,000 buys mark here, or even close to that. Something like 300,000 would be a good number for this fight, and HBO and Top Rank could be taking a risk paying for this fight, putting it on pay-per-view, and then hoping for a strong return.
Bradley, 29, is ten years Marquez's junior, takes a good punch, and can both box and go to war. He's a smart, crafty fighter, but nobody is smarter or craftier than Marquez, save for Mayweather.
The trick here, as we've mentioned before, is that not only is another Pacquiao fight a bigger money option for Marquez, but if Marquez really doesn't want to fight Manny, then Pacquiao is also a bigger money option for Bradley. Pacquiao-Bradley II or Pacquiao-Marquez V are simply bigger fights than Marquez-Bradley would be.
It's nothing against Marquez-Bradley as a fight, and getting hung up on business matters is more for managers and promoters than for you and me, but it would seem for all the world that this could and even should be a major deterrent for either of these guys to fight one another. If they do, then great for them -- I'd personally love to see the fight, and Manny could fight Mike Alvarado or someone like that, and you still have a good fight there.
Do you think Marquez-Bradley will actually happen, or will one of them take a fight with Manny instead?