The ability to adapt is often an underrated talent for a boxer to have. As fans we tend to eulogise about the boxers who can do one thing brilliantly… be it power punching, grinding inside work, stick-and-move boxing or counter punching. In contrast we are generally a bit more dismissive of those who can do everything well but nothing brilliantly. That’s not necessarily deliberate; it’s simply harder for them to stand out.
Timothy Bradley showed exactly how effective adaptability can be tonight as he outpointed the consummate counter-puncher in Juan Manuel Marquez in a bout that lacked the outright thrills of the last bouts for each of the pair but was in it’s own way thrilling, a tense chess match of high level technical boxing from two masters. The judges scores of 115-113 and 116-112 Bradley, 113-115 Marquez were a little narrow for my taste (I had it closer to 116-112 Bradley) but I understand why they were narrow.
The two men who have done the most to derail the carrer of Manny Pacquiao… one controversially, one chillingly… meet this Saturday in a bout that will tell us a lot about both men.
It is some ways unfair to reduce both of these talented boxers to just their bouts with the Filipino superstar but there can be no doubt that it is their battles with Pac Man that to a large extent have defined their careers. Marquez’s four bouts with Pacquiao brought him from an underrated and little known Mexican boxer stuck in the shadow of Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales to one of the most well known names in boxing while Bradley’s win over Pacquiao should have turned him from an underappreciated star of 140lbs to a superstar only for the controversy over the scoring to sour the entire episode.
Both men turned down the chance to have another crack at Manny for this bout. So after this weekend, who will think that decision was somewhat foolish?