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War-Ravaged Timothy Bradley Suddenly Makes Pacquiao, Marquez Opponent Short List

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COMMENTARY | Back before his twelve-round war with Ruslan Provodnikov last Saturday, Timothy Bradley was persona non grata among the biggest names at welterweight. But after being torn to bits in the brutal back and forth battle with the hard-charging Russian, big ticket stars like Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are suddenly considering the WBO welterweight titlist a viable opponent.

Already cut off from the outside world by promoter Bob Arum's insistence on only doing business "in house," Bradley had been effectively limited to just one of two names who could deliver a sizable payday. One was Juan Manuel Marquez, who ruled out a Bradley fight almost immediately after knocking out arch-rival Manny Pacquiao in December. The other was Pacquiao, who refused to fight the Palm Springs native after his controversial decision loss to him earlier last year.

So, instead of big money follow ups to the big money Pacquiao bout, Bradley was presented with a couple of marginal, low-paying gigs to simply keep him busy. After declining the first couple of offers, Bradley had to settle on the Provodnikov fight or risk sitting out another six months or so. As it turned out, Bradley would manage to defend his title against Provodnikov via close unanimous decision, but not before being taken to hell and back by the tough-as-nails Russian.

By his own admission, Bradley was hurt in every round and was likely working through a concussion inflicted on him in the very first frame. But Bradley was able to survive the concussion, survive the relentless pressure, and survive a twelfth round knockdown to win the bout. He fought with honor and class and certainly won a ton of street cred from those fight fans reluctant to appreciate his achievements prior to the Provodnikov bout, but he also may have left a little bit of himself in the ring that night.

A war like the one he staged at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California last Saturday has a lasting effect on a fighter. Many are simply never the same after a battle like that.

Re-enter Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Earlier this week it was being reported by multiple sources that former eight-division world champ, Manny Pacquiao is now in serious discussions to find a rival for a likely September date. Suddenly, Bradley is back in the picture as one of the two leading candidates, alongside Juan Manuel Marquez, for the big ticket date.

Apparently, Pacquiao's reluctance to dignify his putrid decision loss to Bradley with a rematch has flown out the window. Bradley now has a good public relations buzz going and, perhaps just as importantly, could very well be damaged goods coming into his next bout. If a fresh Bradley struggled with Pacquiao's speed and power back in June of last year, a war-ravaged post-Provodnikov Bradley could prove to be easy work for the comeback-minded Filipino icon. That's surely the thought process behind revisiting the idea of a second Bradley bout.

Meanwhile, also in the wake of Saturday's thrilling battle, Juan Manuel Marquez started making rumblings about wanting to win a world title in a fifth division rather than jump right back into another Pacquiao bout. Not surprisingly, Marquez would select Timothy Bradley as the lead candidate for this attempted title run, forgetting that just a couple of months earlier he was unwilling to even consider the WBO titlist as a possible foe. Times change and, likely for the same reason as Team Pacquiao, a vulnerable, good vibe Bradley has come back into the picture.

"For awhile now, Bradley's name has been mentioned as a possible opponent of mine," Marquez told the Spanish-language magazine, Esto. "And after winning last Saturday's fight, he has passed the test."

Ironically for Bradley, it's only in near-defeat that he begins to earn the respect he has deserved for quite some time. And it's only in anticipation of his impending doom that the big fights suddenly get easier to make.


Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.


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