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October 17, 2013

By Ben Dean

On July 18th I wrote an article entitled “Boxing’s Double Standard Sidelines Rigondeaux.” In that article I spoke about the slick urban style and how the term “boxer” has become a dirty word. In the article I detailed how practitioners of the slick African American or (in Rigondeaux's case) the Afro-Cuban style are held to a different standard. They not only have to win, but they must win on their opponent's terms in order to receive full credit for a victory. This is one of the largest injustices in boxing today.

I am going to preface the following by saying I’m a huge fan of Juan Manuel Marquez and his trainer, Nacho Beristain. With all due respect to the Marquez camp (a first-ballot hall of famer), he is delusional if he thinks he defeated Timothy Bradley last weekend. Officially, Bradley won by split decision, but the two judges who scored it for Bradley got it right.

The lack of respect Marquez's entire camp showed Bradley after the fight was disgusting and classless. It says a lot about someone not only in how they handle winning, but in how they handle defeat. This writer doesn’t want to be too hard on Marquez personally because as the boxer, perhaps he couldn’t immediately perceive quite how ineffective he looked. His corner also did him a major disservice by telling him he was winning the fight. He was NOT winning. It should not have even been close.

Through eight rounds, I had it 7-1 for Bradley. How is that possible one might say, because the fight seemed close and competitive? Well, let’s touch on the nuances of how exactly that was the case. So many tend to simply watch a competitive fight, then lean towards the winner and say that was a 115-113 fight. As my Boxingtalk colleague, Stephen "Bread" Edwards often illustrates, boxing is not scored by watching a bout in its entirety. The scoring is compartmentalized. Each round is its own compartment that must be scored individually with ten points to the winner. Was each round of Bradley-Marquez competitive and hard fought? Yes. Was Bradley winning the vast majority of those rounds? Yes.

In short, Marquez hasn’t looked that bad since Floyd Mayweather schooled him in 2009.

I scored the fight with Bradley taking it easily. The final score on my card was 117-111 or 9 rounds to 3 Bradley. Even though it was highly competitive and fought at a high skill level, it was not hard to score. This is one of the few instances where my card actually matched up with HBO's Harold Lederman. Here is why:

Bradley out-jabbed Marquez all night. He landed excellent combinations to the body. He used excellent ring generalship and always had Marquez resetting his feet. He displayed a slick tight defense, alternating between ducking, blocking and rolling shots. He landed lead right hands, and double left hooks. When someone was rocked, it was Marquez (in the tenth and twelfth rounds). In nearly every categorical aspect, Bradley outdid Marquez. In nearly every round, Bradley did exactly what he wanted to do and dictated the action on his own terms, while in nearly every round Marquez was unable to do what he wanted to. I’m not sure what other ingredients need to be present to call it what it was. It was a boxing lesson. Once Bradley worked into his boxing groove, he began to taunt Marquez because he was having his way and he knew it.

Those fans that booed the verdict (Bradley winning a split decision by 115-113, 116-112 and 113-115), were not booing the judges, but, in my opinion, were expressing the frustration that can happen when “their guy” doesn’t win. Ignorance begets ignorance. The fans' "sore boos" led to their guy being a sore loser. If anything, the true injustice and travesty here is that any judge with two eyes connected to his brain saw Marquez taking seven rounds of that fight. I’d really like to know exactly what the hell Glen Feldman was looking at. It is hard to believe someone could be that incompetent. One cannot be surprised then that some fans believe his scorecard was a pre-determined Marquez victory. This judge's wrongheaded verdict emboldened Marquez and even gave him the platform to be a sore loser after the fight.

What all of this nonsense did was take away from a very simple truth. Timothy Bradley put on a masterful performance this past Saturday night. He fought perhaps his most disciplined, well-rounded fight, while displaying excellent all-around technique. Other than Mayweather, who else has ever made Marquez look that befuddled and confused? Not Manny Pacquiao, except for the first round they ever fought. Marquez could fight Bradley ten times and the outcome would be the same.

Yes, I’ve heard the criticisms of Bradley's punching technique-- that he slaps or flails. He must slap pretty hard, because he sure knocked Marquez clear across the ring on a tight short left hook with just with 5 seconds left in the bout. He was also seen tattooing Marquez with a sharp, crispy uppercut in round tenth that wobbled the Mexican warrior.

Timmy doesn’t have a punching technique problem, he has a discipline issue. When he gets tagged good, he goes into reckless mode for immediate get-back, and you’ll notice that this is where the flailing comes in. When he boxes relaxed and under control, he seems to often hit and hurt people.

Consider the following example. In round twelve, just before he sent Marquez stumbling, he flailed and threw an awkward overhand right (momentarily out of control). He then remembered his technique and got himself under control, trading left hooks with Marquez. This is suicide right? Marquez leaned down and opened up. But Bradley kept his guard tight and turned over a fast sharp hook that hit Marquez on the button sending him halfway across the ring.

Instead of jumping on Marquez to follow up, he simply took a calm and composed strut to the side (not even looking in Marquez’s direction). It was the walk of a man that had comprehensively outsmarted and out-competed his opponent, and he knew it.

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