New beginnings for Rodriguez on FNF

May, 14, 2014
May 14
Rodriguez-Cotto Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesDelvin Rodriguez looks to bounce back from a loss to Miguel Cotto when he faces Joachim Alcine.
After 17 previous appearances on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights," Delvin Rodriguez looks to start fresh when he faces former 154-pound titlist Joachim Alcine.

Rodriguez (28-7-3, 16 KOs), a native of the Dominican Republic, squares off with the Haitian-born Alcine (35-7-1, 21 KOs) in a 10-round junior middleweight bout at Montreal's Olympic Stadium (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET). It's the first boxing card at the venue since Roberto Duran defeated Sugar Ray Leonard on June 20, 1980.

Fresh off a decisive defeat in October to Miguel Cotto, Rodriguez, 34, made some key decisions regarding his future in the sport.

"A lot has happened since my last fight," Rodriguez said. "I've changed my entire team. [I have] a different trainer, a different manager. I've changed everything."

Rodriguez's new manager is Jay Dovolani, and Cuban Roberto Quesada, former trainer of his country's Olympic team, has taken over the coaching duties.

"[Quesada] is a seasoned professional and he knows what I need to be ready for the day of the battle," said Rodriguez, explaining the benefits of the change. "We are concentrating on hard work, and working to get in great shape. The technique is there, we just need to polish it."

Even though he didn't say it, Rodriguez is looking for a return to his 2011 prime, when he starred in a pair of all-action fights against Pawel Wolak, which opened the door to a unsuccessful title shot the following year against Austin Trout.

Prior to the setback, Rodriguez appeared on the right track in 2013, knocking out unbeaten George Tahdooahnippah in February and former world title challenger Freddy Fernandez in May. His performances were enough to set up the meeting with Cotto, which ended via third-round TKO.

Rodriguez will look for a return to the win column when he faces the 38-year-old Alcine, who is just 3-6-1 since 2010.

"I don't know much about Alcine. I just know he's a tough guy and has a lot of experience," Rodriguez said. "He's a former champion. In this stage of my career, I do not take anyone lightly. He is looking to redeem himself and return to the limelight."

Alcine, who fights out of Quebec, will likely find himself out of options should he face defeat on Friday. After losing five straight bouts from September 2012 to December 2013, he rebounded with a pair of wins in 2014 against lesser competition.

"I've been training with Buddy McGirt for almost four weeks," Alcine said. "Four or five years ago I made two fights with him in my corner and it was great. I was looking for a coach and I think he's the only one with the required knowledge to train me."

Alcine holds advantages in height and reach against Rodriguez, but doesn't use his jab as much and often fights behind a tightly closed guard. Look for Rodriguez to be the aggressor and employ constant pressure with hooks from the outside.

In the co-main event, Derric Rossy (28-8, 14 KOs) and Joe Hanks (21-1, 14 KOs) square off in a 10-round heavyweight bout.

Forty-six-and-oh. Floyd Mayweather remained perfect at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday thanks to a majority win over a surprisingly game Marcos Maidana. The fight wasn't quite what many expected, but it ultimately provided the expected result. What exactly did we learn from it?

1. Maybe Maidana isn’t tailor-made for Mayweather after all ...

Maidana, with his awkward, often wild, style was supposed to be an easy fight for Mayweather on Saturday. Mayweather closed at a near 10-to-1 favorite, meaning that oddsmakers felt Mayweather had a better than 90 percent chance to win.

By the end of 12 rounds, however, Maidana had landed 221 punches on Mayweather -- more than any other fighter had previously. He also did enough to win six of the 12 rounds, according to one judge. (Although, as Mayweather pointed out, one judge thought the same about his blowout against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in September … so, all judges’ scorecards aren’t necessarily reliable.)

According to Mayweather, the fight was close by his design. At the postfight news conference he quipped, “I could have made this fight absolutely easy, but it would have been boring. We’ve got to give the fans what they want to see.”

That, of course, is a lie. Would Mayweather, a career defensive fighter, really risk the perfect “0” on his record for the sake of entertainment? No. Maidana forced a close fight with heart, a higher level of skill than he’s typically known for and a few dirty tactics here and there for good measure.

“He bit me in the arm in the third round,” Mayweather said, adding that Maidana targeted his groin with punches and head-butted him early in the fight. “He’s going to do whatever he has to do to win, and I respect him for that.”

2. ... or maybe he is, and we’ll find out in a rematch.

A September rematch between Mayweather and Maidana seems very possible, if not guaranteed. Mayweather was open to it immediately after the fight, and that didn’t change during the time it took him to get from the ring to the news conference.

“If he feels he won, he can get it again in September,” said Mayweather from the postfight news conference stage.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer expressed a similar level of interest in a rematch, calling Saturday “the most exciting Mayweather fight I’ve ever seen.” Robert Garcia, Maidana’s trainer, even got a verbal agreement from Mayweather, although the champ added, “We’ve got to negotiate.”

If Mayweather truly believes he could have made the Maidana fight as easy or as hard as he chose, he could get the chance to prove it in September.

3. Even Mayweather might be vulnerable to distractions

Mayweather is the pound-for-pound king, the cash king and the PPV king. He’s also the king of handling his business in the midst of turmoil.

Seems like every time he fights, Mayweather is submersed in some kind of drama. Whether it’s dealing with a deep rift with his father or the legal troubles of his uncle/trainer Roger, Mayweather’s life seems to lend itself to reality television.

But if you look at his two toughest fights since ending a brief retirement in 2009, (a UD over Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012, and Saturday) Mayweather was dealing with personal stress outside the ring. Before the Cotto fight, Mayweather was granted a temporary reprieve on a 90-day jail sentence in a domestic violence case -- and ahead of the Maidana fight, he separated from longtime fiancée Chantel Jackson.

In both fights, Mayweather engaged more offensively with his opponents and took more damage than usual. Were those performances related to his issues outside the ring? It’s certainly plausible to think they could be.

4. Amir Khan deserves a fight with Mayweather, but he won’t get it this year.

Khan’s decision to campaign for the Mayweather fight outside the ring rather than in it drew criticism among fans and media and, ultimately, fell short.

Khan, 27, made up for it in a rather dominant win over Luis Collazo in which he won every round on two of three official scorecards and scored three knockdowns. In his third fight with trainer Virgil Hunter, Khan flashed absolute brilliance multiple times and set the stage for a very watchable fight against a 37-year-old Mayweather.
Unfortunately, Khan’s commitment Ramadan in July erases any shot of him fighting Mayweather in September.

5. Adrien Broner’s comeback was just OK

It is undeniable that Broner, 24, possesses certain qualities that could eventually turn him into a major star in boxing. He also has limitations that could hold him back.

Broner rebounded from the first loss of his professional career -- suffered at the hands of Maidana in December -- just as everyone suspected he would. Broner closed before the fight a near 33-to-1 favorite, according to MGM officials.

He appeared to have his opportunities to put away Carlos Molina on the Showtime main card but didn’t. After the fight, he made offensive racial comments that prompted a response from in-ring interviewer Jim Gray.

Broner was adequate in his 140-pound debut but little more than that. Big fights await for him at this weight class, however, he’ll have to be better in more ways than one to make the most of them.

A blueprint on how to defeat Mayweather?

May, 4, 2014
May 4

So, it looks like we’ve got a new blueprint on how to defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr., right?

Well, not exactly, mostly because Marcos Maidana, despite an inspired performance, was unable to come away with a victory over Mayweather (46-0, 26 KOs) on Saturday in their welterweight title-unification bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

But Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs), who lost by majority decision, clearly provided the pound-for-pound king with his toughest fight since Mayweather’s victory over Jose Luis Castillo in their first meeting in 2002.

So how, exactly, did this 12-to-1 underdog nearly pull off a performance most felt was improbable against the unbeaten Mayweather?

Well, he did it with volume punching and by showing an outright lack of respect for Mayweather, above all else. But he also benefited from a perfect storm of other factors that conspired together to provide fans with the most exciting Mayweather fight of his career.

Let’s take a look at how Maidana was so successful:

Relentless activity

We all knew Maidana’s best shot at finding success would come by cutting off the ring and smothering Mayweather with a flurry of awkward punches from various angles. What we didn’t know was that Maidana would still be fighting at relatively the same pace for the entire 12 rounds.

Maidana never buckled under the mental and physical fatigue that inevitably comes once Mayweather’s patented midfight adjustment opens the door for him to land a series of flush right hands to the face. The Argentine slugger was able to do that by maintaining a hellish pace and overwhelming Mayweather with volume, which never allowed him to properly set himself or get comfortable for a prolonged time.

Not only did Maidana set a record for landing the most punches against Mayweather (221) in the 38 previous fights tracked by CompuBox, he also threw an astounding 858 punches in all, which was more than double those of Mayweather.

Outside of Castillo, only three Mayweather opponents proved able to produce legitimate success against him over a period of at least three to four rounds. But none of them -- Zab Judah (444), Oscar De La Hoya (587) and Miguel Cotto (506) -- proved able to match Maidana’s output, and that was the difference.

Playing dirty

Veteran referee Tony Weeks had his hands full attempting to separate the two fighters and curb both men’s low blows, holding, head butts and forearms.

Although Weeks was vocal in his warnings, he never took away a point from either and allowed the fight to remain physical, which played into Maidana’s hands.

[+] EnlargeFloyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesMarcos Maidana, right, used every trick in the book... as did Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Not only did a fourth-round head butt open up a cut above Mayweather’s right eye for the first time since early in his career, Maidana’s mugging style consistently backed Mayweather up to the ropes and forced him to fight on the inside.

Mayweather was vocal in his disapproval of Weeks’ performance after the fight, claiming it allowed Maidana an opening to consistently foul. And there’s little question it played a major role in Maidana’s success.

Ricky Hatton’s attempt at a similarly aggressive style against Mayweather in their 2007 fight was mainly kept in check by referee Joe Cortez's quickness in breaking the fighters apart each time they clinched. This time, Mayweather wasn’t so lucky, allowing Maidana chances to hit on the break and be physical at close range.

Distractions, distractions

Mayweather maintained after the bout that he wanted to give the fans their money’s worth by standing and trading with Maidana instead of outboxing him from distance.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s the same stance Mayweather employed after his last relatively close fight against Cotto in May 2012. And both times it wasn't believable.

The fights share a common parallel in the sense that Mayweather appeared to be battling outside the ring distractions in both, which likely played a major role in both fights being so competitive.

While Cotto certainly exceeded expectations against Mayweather two years ago, it can’t be ignored that Mayweather entered the ring one month before serving a three-month jail term. And the buildup to Saturday's fight against Maidana appeared to have the same affect on Mayweather.

Not only was he enduring the aftermath of a reported breakup with his ex-fiancée, there also was a prefight glove controversy with Maidana and the lingering rumors of a rift between Golden Boy’s De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer.

Exactly how all of that affected Mayweather is uncertain. But he talked of a possible retirement in the final news conference days before the fight and appeared both emotional and distant in many of his public appearances, often speaking of his career in the past tense.

Yes, Mayweather could very well be slowing down just a bit at 37. And, yes, Maidana clearly performed at a level much higher than anyone expected. But even though Mayweather impressively dug deep to come away with a victory, this wasn’t the same fighter who pitched near shutouts in 2013 against Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez.

Whether the reasons for Maidana’s success can be attributed to anything written above or reflect more on the fact that he employs a style that was always meant to give Mayweather fits only remains to be seen should the two do it again this fall.

But Maidana clearly found success where others have failed before him, even if he benefited, in part, from the stars aligning perfectly in his favor. Either way, he forced Mayweather, who landed 54 percent of his punches overall and 65 percent of his power shots, to prove once again why even in his twilight, he’s still the best in the game.

Smith makes quick work of Davis

May, 3, 2014
May 3
LAS VEGAS -- Ishe Smith may not have been fighting his opponent of choice on Friday night, but he took care of business just the same.

The former junior middleweight titlist saw his original bout with interim titlist Erislandy Lara called off when Lara accepted a July 12 pay-per-view date with Canelo Alvarez. If Smith, 35, was put off in any way, he took out his frustration on replacement opponent Ryan Davis at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Smith jumped out of the gate to hurt Davis, 35, in the opening round with power shots before dropping him on a hard left hook in Round 2. Davis (24-14-3, 9 KOs), who entered the bout having lost his last four and five of his last six, was counted out at 2:59.

The performance was about as exciting as you’ll see from Smith (26-6, 12 KOs), who has often faced criticism for his defensive style.

“I understand the sport. You have to be exciting and you have to be a little more aggressive,” Smith said. “I’ve never been hurt and I’ve never been down, so I decided to be more aggressive tonight.”

Smith became the first native of Las Vegas to win a world title when he scored an emotional victory over Cornelius Bundrage in February 2013 before losing his title in his next fight against Carlos Molina on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard in September.

Despite losing out on the chance against Lara, Smith remains confident that a better opportunity will come his way.

“The good thing about having great promoters is that they can go out and make all of the deals,” said Smith, who believes Alvarez will defeat Lara. “As long as I deliver on my end, it’s on me. No excuses. This time is on me. If I take care of business, I know I can get a shot.”

Bey outlasts Herrera

Well ahead late in the fight, Mickey Bey found himself in a precarious and unfortunately familiar situation after being floored by Alan Herrera in Round 7.

But for Bey, a Las Vegas native, this would be no repeat of his final-round knockout loss to John Molina in July.

Bey (20-1-1, 10 KOs), who suffered a cut above his left eye in Round 9, outboxed Herrera throughout and recovered well from the late knockdown to claim a unanimous decision (97-92, 98-92 twice).

Mexico’s Herrera (32-6, 21 KOs), 24, who surprised Bey with a left hook to force the knockdown, was unable to capitalize. Bey, who boxed well and countered cleanly throughout, came back in Round 8 to hurt Herrera with a right hand.

“I was kind of off balance and he caught me with a good shot,” Bey said. “He was tough. But I perfected what we worked on in the gym.”

Bey, 30, put a handful of early rounds in the bank by jabbing to the body and opened up a cut below Herrera’s right eye with a left hook in Round 5.

Cuellar defends title

Jesus Cuellar was aggressive throughout and held off a typical late rally from Rico Ramos to defend his interim featherweight title.

Cuellar (24-1, 18 KOs) overcome a point deduction for rabbit punching in Round 8 to claim a unanimous decision by scores of 116-110, 117-109 and 114-112.

The 27-year-old southpaw from Argentina beat Ramos (23-4, 12 KOs), a former junior featherweight titlist, to the punch throughout and consistently backed him up to the ropes. Although Ramos stepped up his activity level in the closing rounds, it proved to be too little, too late.

Garcia faces off with Cayo on FNF

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
Welterweight Roberto Garcia squares off with Victor Cayo in the main event of a special Thursday edition of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."

The 10-round bout headlines a card outdoors from the iconic Hialeah Park Race Track in Hialeah, Fla. (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) with both fighters entering the bout in search of a return to the spotlight.

Garcia (34-3, 22 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, has lost just once in the past 10 years, a 2010 unanimous decision against Antonio Margarito. He scored a pair of victories in 2013 at junior middleweight against Miguel Angel Munguia and Larry Smith and enters Thursday's bout less than three months removed from a February win over Norberto Gonzalez.

Cayo (32-4, 23 KOs), a native of the Dominican Republic, enters his second welterweight bout after a long stretch fighting at 140 pounds, where he faced elite opponents like Marcos Maidana, Lamont Peterson, Nate Campbell and Julio Diaz. Cayo has won five of his last six fights, including four by knockout.

The fight promises plenty of action due to the offensive styles of both fighters.

The 29-year-old Cayo is fast, has good power and throws many combinations. However, his game plan is limited by his defensive deficiencies, which have been detrimental to his career.

Cayo has been, at times, too confident with his waist movements, which draw comparisons to that of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. He doesn't close his guard and is repeatedly exposed to counter shots. That limitation has cost him dearly during his four defeats, which have all come by stoppage.

Despite these problems, his opponent Garcia, 34, will need to take very seriously the speed of Cayo.

Garcia will be making his debut under the tutelage of trainer Robert Norris and has admitted to having problems with fast opponents. That's why he has trained with fast sparring partners, with the idea of getting used to Cayo's style. His game plan will be to apply constant pressure, trying to hurt his opponent with powerful shots.

The clash of styles will surely define the characteristics of the bout. Cayo will move sideways, getting in and out with speed to drop his combinations. Garcia, who is slower but more aggressive and fights at a good distance, will use the jab to attempt to control Cayo while looking to slow him down with body shots.

In the co-feature, undefeated Jonathan Gonzalez (17-0-1, 14 KOs) of San Juan, Puerto Rico, faces Rogelio Medina (32-5, 26 KOs) of Mexico in a 10-round middleweight bout.

Matthysse, Klitschko win at their own game

April, 27, 2014
Apr 27

Here are five things we learned Saturday after a full day and night of fights, including a heavyweight championship bout in Oberhausen, Germany, and a wild tripleheader of action from Carson, Calif.:

1. That’s why they play the game

Or in this case, that’s why they fight the fight, right? Let’s not sugarcoat what most expected Saturday’s card at the StubHub Center to be -- a trio of one-sided showcase fights for three valuable names under the Golden Boy banner. In fact, due to how deep the promotion’s roster is at 140 and 147 pounds, forgive us for taking umbrage at the opponent choices for unbeaten welterweight Keith Thurman and all-action junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse. Some wondered why they weren’t fighting each other. Others offered a laundry list of better candidates for each, making Saturday’s fights feel like mere formalities at best and -- for those feeling extra cynical -- a waste of time.

But something happened on the way to the night’s final bell. Matthysse turned in a fight of the year candidate against a fearless John Molina. Unbeaten lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa survived an unexpectedly close split decision against Jerry Belmontes. Both fighters found themselves in tougher-than-expected fights with the final outcome in doubt for most of it. In the case of Matthysse-Molina, the action wasn’t simply intense, brutal or dramatic -- it was all three. In fact, it had a throwback feel to it. Even the card's main event -- Thurman’s interim title defense against veteran Julio Diaz -- had its moments. Even though Thurman came through with the expected result when he landed a body shot in Round 3 that forced Diaz to withdraw, the fight featured toe-to-toe action, with Diaz hurting Thurman with a hard right hand moments before it ended. Boxing observers see enough mismatched cards these days to remove optimism from the list of necessary prerequisites for being a fan. But the potential for the unexpected always remains, and Saturday's card delivered much more than was advertised on paper.

2. The beat goes on

Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko recorded his 16th consecutive title defense with ease by demolishing unheralded challenger Alex Leapai via fifth-round TKO in Germany. The result was as one-sided as it was expected, with even Klitschko admitting to not having heard of Leapai before the Samoan-born fighter’s upset of then-unbeaten Denis Boytsov last November. Klitschko, 38, who improved to 23-2 overall in heavyweight championship fights, also moved one fight closer to Joe Louis’ revered record of 25 consecutive title defenses.

[+] EnlargeWladimir Klitschko, Alex Leapai
AP Photo/Frank AugsteinWladimir Klitschko, right, dropped Alex Leapai three times on his way to a TKO victory in Round 5.
Klitschko’s victories in recent years have brought with them predictable and polarizing reactions. He is either close to putting a bonnet on one of the division’s most decorated careers or is a thrice-stopped bore who has benefited from absurdly dismal competition to boast an inflated résumé. Typically, there isn’t much middle ground to be found. However, the truth, as it usually does, is found somewhere in the middle. So enjoy Klitschko’s run with the respect he deserves as a dominant champion who treats his job title with as much professionalism as any who have worn the belt before him. And while it’s unfair to blame Klitschko for the woeful heavyweight era in which he competes, it’s equally unfair to disregard that by placing too much emphasis on the numbers when considering his place in history.

3. Long live ‘The Machine’

Did we jump the gun a bit last September by predicting a Matthysse knockout over division champion Danny Garcia, setting up a May 2014 appointment with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.? You could say that. So, what did we learn? Well, he might not be “the next Manny Pacquiao,” as promoter Richard Schaeffer boldly proclaimed in 2013. And, following his six-month break after the loss to Garcia, his return Saturday in a life-or-death battle against Molina proved he isn’t as elite as maybe some thought. But man, that guy is worth the price of admission, isn’t he? Matthysse overcame a pair of stunning knockdowns early on and rallied to produce three of his own to stop Molina in an absolutely brutal slugfest. The Machine’s newfound vulnerabilities at age 31 proved just as endearing to watch as his highlight-reel finishes. Only time will tell whether his early troubles with Molina were an indictment of his true stock or merely an unexpected hurdle on his path to bigger things. Either way, the idea of seeing him potentially matched up with Adrien Broner at 140 pounds is enough to get anyone out of their seat throwing imaginary punches into the air.

4. The more things change ...

... the more bad scorecards continue to stay the same. As in, boxing has a gigantic problem on its hands with judging. Of course, you already knew that. In fact, it wouldn’t be novel, cute or even entertaining to waste multiple paragraphs of this story railing against it. The reason? Because it happens every weekend. Moreover, you’ll probably forget about it by next week. Granted, some offenses are worse than others and have a way of staying in our consciousness longer, like Gustavo Padilla’s 114-113 card for Beibut Shumenov over Bernard Hopkins last weekend. But by the time you are done reading this, you will likely be a day closer to forgetting the fact that David Mendoza gave 10 of a possible 12 rounds to Figueroa, who was soundly outboxed for key stretches of his split-decision win over Belmontes. It was another absurd scorecard in a close fight that could have gone either way. And the fact that the reaction on social media was relatively tame in the aftermath only illustrates how desensitized most have come to the larger problem. Boxing fans are at the point again where they almost expect it. And that’s what scares me.

5. Do we really know Figueroa?

You have to be careful not to overact following one tough fight during the rise of a promising young boxer. And there was enough excuses available to make sense of Figueroa’s less-than-spectacular performance in his close win over Belmontes. Figueroa was making his first appearance since hand injuries twice placed him on the shelf. He was also facing an opponent who had beaten him five times in the amateurs. Still, whether it can be written off as simply ring rust or a determined opponent, something seemed off about Figueroa, who is being groomed for stardom by promoter Golden Boy. Belmontes appeared to expose Figueroa's difficulty keeping up with slick boxers who employ a quick jab. And while Figueroa, 24, is no stranger to trading punches at close range, he showed sloppy technique, failed to sit down on his punches and appeared to fade over the second half of the fight. He was also lucky -- in part due to a generous scorecard -- to escape with a victory. One thing is certain: Figueroa will likely only go as far as his often-injured hands will allow him.

Josesito Lopez set for return on FNF

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23

Former world title challenger Josesito Lopez headlines a special Thursday edition of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" in a 10-round junior welterweight bout.

Lopez (31-6, 18 KOs), who moves back down to 140 pounds after a four-fight run at welterweight and above, faces Aron Martinez (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Known for taking on difficult challenges in recent years against household names like Victor Ortiz, Canelo Alvarez and Marcos Maidana, Lopez enters the bout fresh off a victory over Mike Arnaoutis last December. "The Riverside Rocky" is best known for his most memorable victory, when he broke the jaw of the heavy favorite Ortiz in June 2012, which launched him into the junior middleweight title bout against Alvarez.

Lopez, who essentially moved up two weight classes to face Alvarez, was stopped in the fifth round despite showing plenty of courage. He also gave Maidana all he could handle in an another all-action bout before falling by stoppage in Round 6.

In Martinez (19-2-1, 4 KOs), Lopez faces a tough fighter who has been in the ring with the likes of Prenice Brewer, Jessie Vargas and Joseph Elegele. The bout will be Martinez's first since a unanimous decision over Alberto Herrera in April 2013.

"Every fight comes with a challenging opponent; Martinez is no different," Lopez said. "He comes to fight and I'm sure I'm going to get his best. I have a lot of respect for anyone that steps into the ring. He's looking to inflict damage on me, and I plan to do the same to him."

Martinez likes to work from a distance, move laterally and surprise his opponent with quick combinations of straight lefts inside and right hands to the outside. He has good defense and avoids a lot of punches with movement. His biggest problem is his lack of firepower, which is reflected in his low knockout percentage. He has managed to knock his opponents out in just four of his 19 victories.

"If [Lopez] wants to bring it, I'll be ready for that," Martinez said. "If he wants to box, we can box, too. I'm sure he's going to try to take me out and he's going to be surprised when he finds out he won't be able to do that."

Lopez employs a much more aggressive style with power in both hands. Look for him to exert early pressure on Martinez and set the pace with his jab, powerful combinations and hooks to the body at close distance.

"People watching at home on ESPN and those in attendance are going to get treated to an excellent fight," Lopez said. "We're both exciting boxers that like to move forward. It's a shame that one of us has to lose, but it won't be me though."

In the co-main event, unbeaten Thomas Williams Jr. (16-0, 11 KOs) squares off with veteran Enrique Ornelas (34-8, 22 KOs) in a 10-round light heavyweight bout.

Boxcino middleweights enter semifinals

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18

The 2014 Boxcino middleweight tournament enters the semifinal round on Friday with a pair of bouts headlining ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."

The two eight-round semifinal bouts will take place from the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y. (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET), the same site as the finals on May 23 for both the middleweight and lightweight brackets.

Vitalii Kopylenko (23-0, 13 KOs) vs. Willie Monroe Jr. (16-1, 6 KOs)

Kopylenko, 30, the unbeaten fighter out of Ukraine, is coming off a second-round stoppage of Cerresso Fort in the tournament's quarterfinal round. On that same Feb. 28 card in Hammond, Ind., Monroe, a southpaw, won a unanimous decision over Donatas Bondorovas of Lithuania.

In a fight that also doubled as his U.S. debut, Kopylenko made the biggest impression among the four semifinalists by dominating Fort with power shots and twice sending him to the canvas before referee Kurt Spivey stopped the bout less than one minute into the second round. Kopylenko showed consistent punching power and positioned himself as the favorite to take the Boxcino 2014 belt, but he still has a difficult challenge ahead.

"Monroe is a very good fighter," Kopylenko said. "He has good movement and fine skills, but we have a good plan to defeat him."

Monroe, born into a renowned family of fighters, seems to be enjoying the best stretch of his career. He has won his last six fights, and on Friday he intends to further his winning streak.

"Willie has trained hard for this fight. He has worked with taller sparring partners [to prepare] for Kopylenko," said Monroe's manager, Damian Walton. "We respect his resumé and his unbeaten record, but I don't think he has ever faced anyone of Willie's level."

The fight promises to be a clash of styles. Monroe is a good technical fighter with speed and quick footwork who is difficult to hit. However, he lacks knockout power, and against a power puncher like Kopylenko, this could be dangerous. The Ukrainian fighter has a powerful jab and a longer reach and is expected to be the more aggressive fighter.

Brandon Adams (13-0, 9 KOs) vs. Raymond Gatica (14-2, 9 KOs)

Adams, 24, a power puncher, is fresh off a fourth-round TKO win over Daniel Edouard in the Boxcino quarterfinals. Adams will be facing a southpaw, which doesn't seem to bother him.

"It will be the first time I face a southpaw, but I've worked hard at my camp with opponents of similar guard and I've felt very comfortable," Adams said. "It hasn't been a problem and I feel confident for this fight."

Gatica, 30, of Austin, Tex., is coming off a stoppage win against previously unbeaten Sena Agbeko of Ghana. Agbeko entered the bout with 15 wins -- all by knockout -- in as many bouts before Gatica forced the fourth-round TKO. Gatica's manager, Dave Watson, feels confident that his protégé will defeat Adams and even imagines who his next opponent will be.

"Ray has really prepared himself in defense and speed to keep the same pace throughout the eight rounds," Watson said. "Adams is a different opponent -- shorter and well-built. So we'll have another game plan. I see Ray in the final, and I think it will be against [Kopylenko].".

Beyond the prevailing confidence in both camps, this semifinal bout appears to be even. It's a clash of two aggressive fighters with good punching power. Adams could be the one to set the pace early with heavy pressure, while Gatica, who has good leg movement, will look to avoid the exchange and try to overcome his opponent with technique and better experience.

Vindication. Hopefully that’s what Manny Pacquiao felt on Saturday when he took back the welterweight belt he lost to Timothy Bradley Jr. in June 2012 due to one of the worst decisions the sport of boxing has seen in years.

Pacquiao, 35, said prior to Saturday’s championship fight he didn’t feel as if he had much to prove -- after all, he knew who really won that first fight. Even though many of us would tend to agree, here are five other things we learned from the Pacquiao-Bradley card.

1. The rematch had to happen, even though it kind of didn’t have to happen
Pacquiao had to “erase” the Bradley loss from his record, even though it didn’t really teach us anything new. Two people, it seemed, thought Bradley beat Pacquiao when they fought the first time in June 2012. But those two happened to be judging it. Other than judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross, most felt Bradley had won somewhere between two and four rounds. Fast-forward to Saturday, and very little changed. Final scores read 116-112 twice and 118-110 for Pacquiao. Again, Bradley won somewhere between two and four rounds. The rematch played out very different from the first in the ring, but ultimately produced the same result.

2. Timothy Bradley has learned (kind of) that nobody likes excuses
Shortly after scores were read on Saturday, Bradley said in a post-fight interview he had suffered an injury to his calf early in the fight. A chorus of boos followed, which Bradley should have expected. By the time he arrived at the post-fight news conference, Top Rank officials confirmed he had suffered a strained calf muscle, but Bradley refused to discuss it. When Top Rank CEO Bob Arum asked the media to keep questions short due to the pain Bradley was in, he quickly said, “No excuses, no excuses. I’m OK.”

There’s more than a decent chance Bradley did injure himself in the fight, but it would have done him no favors to talk about it. He realized as much in the time it took him to get from the ring to the news conference. “I accept defeat like a man,” Bradley said. “I lost tonight.”

3. The winner of Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado will fight Pacquiao next
We already knew this going in. As much fun as it is to see a red-faced Arum answer to the demands of a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight (“We’re prepared to sit down with his people any time!” Arum said), we know how highly unlikely it is for the two sides to come to an agreement on that fight this year. Pacquiao dealt with the “loss” to Bradley on Saturday and he wants to deal with the knockout loss to Marquez next. "I think what we're looking at, as far as Manny is concerned, is the winner of Marquez and Alvarado, that's been talked on and so forth," Arum said.

4. As much fun as Pacquiao still is, Mayweather would roll him
He just would. Mayweather’s style always appeared well suited to handle Pacquiao and it still is. Pacquiao was impressive on Saturday, but he wasn’t the fighter who terrorized Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto five years ago. Freddie Roach basically admitted as much afterward. He used the words “pretty well,” to describe Pacquiao’s performance and acknowledged Bradley’s success with counter punches -- which Mayweather, too, would certainly have. If that fight were to take place in 2014, Mayweather wins 10 of 12 rounds.

“He got caught in the pocket a couple times,” Roach said. “He stayed in front of Bradley a little too long from what I saw. He was trying to beat Bradley down the middle and he had some success with it overall, but it was looking like Bradley was landing the bigger shots.”

5. Bob Arum is not impressed with Floyd Mayweather, Marcos Maidana on May 3
Shocking, right? Arum ripped the MGM Grand Garden Arena throughout the Pacquiao-Bradley fight week for the property’s decision to hang advertisements of a May 3 bout between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana. On Saturday, Arum praised his event for featuring what turned out to be a mostly competitive fight. He referred to the fight on May 3, in which Mayweather is a 12-to-1 betting favorite, as “nonsense.”

“I don’t think the Mayweather fight is bad for boxing,” Arum said. “It’s bad for the public who will be talked to about spending money on nonsense. It’s bad for a property like MGM, which continues to peddle non-competitive matches.”

Bradley, a new and improved fighter

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11

It has been an improbable run for unbeaten Timothy Bradley Jr. to his current spot among the sport’s pound-for-pound best, considering all he has overcome.

For as many negative labels that have been heaped upon him as a fighter in recent years, Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) has continued to leap right through them. He has been called anything from dirty and boring to even somewhat of an in-ring con artist for having pulled off a consecutive run of debated victories on the scorecards.

In the two years since his historically contentious split-decision win over Manny Pacquiao -- an undisputed low moment for Bradley, who received death threats and was partially blamed for the controversy -- the 30-year-old Bradley has done plenty of work to repair his image entering Saturday’s rematch with Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET)

As dark as 2012 was for Bradley, he used 2013 as a platform to dispel the notions that he isn’t exciting (in his all-out war with Ruslan Provodnikov) or worthy of elite mention (with his split-decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez.)

But the biggest negative surrounding Bradley has long been his perceived lack of punching power. It’s a notion -- supported by his low knockout percentage -- that is a bit misleading when you consider that he has wobbled and hurt the likes of Marquez, Luis Carlos Abregu and Lamont Peterson. Still, Bradley will never be mistaken for a huge puncher.

What’s interesting to consider, though, is whether his lack of one-punch power has grown to become a positive for Bradley in a different way -- helping to make him a complete fighter.

“I’m getting older and smarter, and I’m paying close attention to my technique and listening to my corner,” Bradley told “There have been a lot of things that I have made adjustments and improvements on. I had a great 2013, but it took 2012 for me to get to where I’m at today. I had to go through some things in order to make me a stronger person mentally, physically and spiritually.

“Once you go through the past -- and all of your trials and tribulations -- if it doesn’t break you, it will make you stronger. That’s what is happening with me.”

It was the impact of the public backlash following the Pacquiao fight that spurred on Bradley’s superhuman performance against Provodnikov in last year’s Fight of the Year. And although the brutal fight won Bradley a legion of new fans, the physical toll changed him -- but not in the way most observers originally thought.

As Bradley entered his bout with Marquez seven months later, there was a fear that he was damaged goods, leading few to predict the masterful boxing performance he went on to produce.

“What happened in the Ruslan fight really made me go back to my craft and do what I do best in boxing,” Bradley said. “I showed a different side of my game to people [against Marquez] to show I’m a complete fighter.”

Bradley credits his ability to make adjustments as a cerebral fighter to his days studying film as an amateur under Al Mitchell, when he learned to critique fighters’ strengths and weaknesses.

“I was good at it right away, and I started taking different things from different fighters and looking at what made them so successful,” Bradley said. “What made [Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.] so successful was the fact that he would throw one shot to the head and two shots to the body and break you down. He had unbelievable timing. So what did I do? Add body punches to my craft. I picked that up from the great Al Mitchell.”

What has always separated Bradley from the pack is his unmatched work ethic and desire, and mixing that with the newfound wrinkles and versatility of his game have him suddenly at the peak of his prime entering Saturday’s rematch.

“I can be a lot of different styles and bring a lot of different things to the table,” Bradley said. “I’m always switching up. It’s just me being me and figuring out ways to win and using different angles to try and get to my opponents. Whatever they don’t like, I just try to throw it in their face as much as possible. Once they catch on, I’ll switch it up again. It’s just hard to really outthink me.”

The wrinkle in Saturday’s rematch is that because both fighters felt wronged by the impact of the controversial decision, each will be searching for his own piece of redemption.

In many ways, that’s how Bradley, who has long relished the underdog role, has prepared for each of his fights. He believes he is a completely different fighter than two years ago and is hoping once more to prove wrong any remaining doubters.

“I do everything well but not everything the best,” Bradley said. “I’m not the most talented, but the thing that sets me apart is my will to win, and that I always figure out a way because I can make adjustments. I have a very athletic fighting style and I find a way to squeeze by and win fights.”

Unbeaten Ramirez faces Lorenzo on FNF

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
Giovanni Lorenzo, Daniel JacobsAl Bello/Getty ImagesGiovanni Lorenzo, left, faces Mexican prospect Gilberto Ramirez on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."
Mexican prospect Gilberto Ramirez puts his unbeaten record on the line Friday against veteran Giovanni Lorenzo in the main event of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."

The 10-round super middleweight bout (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) headlines a card from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, on the evening before Manny Pacquiao's rematch with Timothy Bradley Jr.

Ramirez (27-0, 21 KOs), the 6-foot tall knockout artist, has stopped 77 percent of his opponents. The 22-year-old will look for another decisive win Friday against the battle-tested Lorenzo (33-6, 25 KOs), 33, of the Dominican Republic, with an eye on furthering a path in the division.

Friday marks the third time Ramirez will fight outside of Mexico and will be his first bout at super middleweight, having competed at 160 pounds since his debut in 2009.

"I was having a hard time reaching 160 pounds," Ramirez told "At this weight, I now feel stronger and more confident."

In his last bout, Ramirez needed just 90 seconds to dispose of Don Mouton on Feb. 1 in Laredo, Tex. Ramirez can adapt to any style of opponent, but he mostly favors an aggressive approach centered around pressuring his opponents. Despite his size and wingspan, the Mexican fighter is more comfortable fighting at close range.

Lorenzo, a three-time title contender at 160 and 168 pounds, is two fights removed from a third-round TKO defeat at the hands of Daniel Jacobs last August. Lorenzo has good technique and is effective using his jab.

Ramirez, the southpaw, is the favorite and the bigger puncher of the two. A victory could lift him to an eventual title shot. He is expected to be added to the May 17 Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado undercard in Los Angeles.

The co-main event features promising undefeated super middleweight prospect Jesse Hart (12-0, 10 KOs ) against Texan Samuel Clarkson (10-6-2, 6 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

Pacquiao: 'Freddie has been a father to me'

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
Two years removed from the most controversial fight of his 19-year professional career, Manny Pacquiao is focused on getting a chance to set the record straight against Timothy Bradley Jr.

The rematch, set for Saturday in Las Vegas (HBO PPV), marks the first time the fighters will meet since their June 2012 bout -- won by Bradley via split decision -- which produced some of the most contentious scorecards in modern history.

Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs), 35, enters the bout one fight removed from a wide unanimous-decision win over Brandon Rios in November -- a fight that served as a comeback for Pacquiao following his December 2012 knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.

Describe a typical day in and out the gym. Your relationship with your coach Freddie Roach. You dine together, watch film together?

I train Monday through Saturday every week of training camp. It is a strict schedule that allows my body to rest between morning and afternoon sessions so that I can perform my training at my best. Everything is geared to one goal, peaking physically and mentally on April 12 -- fight day.

At sunrise, I usually head over to one of three areas that I rotate and run several miles. I no longer run hills every day, and that has eliminated the leg cramps I had suffered from, beginning with my fight with Shane Mosley in 2011. After my run, Justin Fortune, who is my strength and conditioning coach, runs me though a series of drills that are designed to improve my speed and agility. By 8 a.m., I return home for breakfast with my camp and then a take a nap.

I usually arrive at Wild Card Boxing Club at 1 p.m. for a three-hour session with Freddie. Sparring takes place Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays while I work the mitts with Freddie every day. Then it’s a circuit on the double-end bag, the heavy bag, the speed bag, jumping rope and hundreds of situps. The session ends with strength drills with Justin. It’s during the afternoon session that Freddie and I interact and discuss, design and execute our strategy for defeating Tim Bradley. We know what we have to do to beat him.

After training we go to a Thai restaurant near the gym for lunch and then head back home where I relax, play chess with my friends or watch a movie a home, followed by dinner. After dinner I read the Bible or discuss it with my friends, and I’m usually in bed by 10 p.m.

Freddie has been a father to me, a brother and a best friend since the day we met. I cannot overstate his importance to me and how much he has impacted my life. I am a better person for having Freddie in my life. We are a team. In the gym, I call him Master Freddie. He is the boss and he is the teacher. And even though we do not spend as much time together as we used to, we will always have a special bond that will remain strong for the rest of our lives.

Bradley: Pacquiao 'lost the fire'

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
Unbeaten welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., 30, has done nothing but grow as a fighter in the two years since his controversial June 2012 victory over Manny Pacquiao.

Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) survived a toe-to-toe war with Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013 before outboxing slick counterpuncher Juan Manuel Marques in October.

A native of Palm Springs, Calif., Bradley returns Saturday (HBO PPV) for a second go-around with Pacquiao in Las Vegas. Bradley's split-decision victory in their first bout went down as one of the most controversial decisions in modern boxing history.

In what ways do you think Pacquiao has changed as a fighter during the two years since your first fight against him?

Manny Pacquiao has always been a great fighter and from what I have heard he is a great person, but I think in the last two years Manny has become a more compassionate fighter. I think he lost the fire that made him the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

That killer instinct that made Oscar De La Hoya quit on his stool and the fire that knocked out Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and badly damaged Antonio Margarito are just no longer there.

I think his skill set is still there, but he just cannot turn it on like he used to anymore. In the Brandon Rios fight, I saw he had Rios up against the ropes and then he stopped throwing his punches. He took a couple steps back and let Rios out.

I think that Marquez KO gave him a lot to think about because Manny was turning it on there, and in my opinion he was a couple rounds away from stopping Marquez -- but then he just never saw Marquez's right hand coming and it was lights-out.

I hope come April 12 Manny can find that fire and be the Pacquiao of old because this is the hurt business. For those 36 minutes that we will be in the ring, I am not expecting any compassion from him.

He will get absolutely no compassion from me. In that ring it is all about my family eating or his family eating.

Manny Pacquiao will have to knock me out to stop my family from eating.

Cunningham rallies to outlast Mansour

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
Steve CunninghamRich Graessle/Main EventsSteve Cunningham rebounded from a pair of knockdowns in Round 5 to outpoint Amir Mansour.
With his family in need and his heavyweight future hanging in the balance on Friday, veteran Steve Cunningham was forced to dig deep against unbeaten brawler Amir Mansour.

Then, with the fight hanging in the balance entering the 10th and final round, the 37-year-old reached back for even more.

Cunningham, who was lucky to survive a pair of brutal knockdowns in Round 5, rallied to score one of his own in Round 10 to secure an exciting, unanimous-decision win over Mansour at the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia.

Fighting in front of his home fans for just the second time in his career -- and first since 2003 -- Cunningham (27-6, 12 KOs) needed every bit of support to earn the victory, by scores of 97-90 and 95-92 (twice). also had it 95-92 for Cunningham.

The win was extra sweet considering the two-time cruiserweight titlist was fighting for money to help pay the medical bills of his 8-year-old daughter Kennedy, who was born with a congenital heart defect.

"I've got faith, it's all I have," Cunningham said. "I don't have strength, I don't have speed. I have faith in my God."

Fighting against big-name competition for the first time in his career, Mansour, 41, utilized his raw and aggressive style to land a series of wild left hands to take control of the early rounds. Mansour (20-1, 15 KOs) wobbled Cunningham in Round 2 and cut him on the bridge of his nose.

But it was Round 5 when Mansour appeared ready to end the fight. He floored Cunningham on a hard right hook to the chin and later added a second knockdown in the closing seconds following a flurry of right hands.

Referee Steve Smoger gave Cunningham every opportunity to beat the 10 count, and he was lucky to make it out of the round.

"I was all right. I've been down before and got up and won," Cunningham said. "I got lackadaisical because I was really doing my thing. I won't make that mistake again."

Fighting on wobbly legs in Round 6, Cunningham courageously began to bank rounds behind his boxing ability as he made an increasingly wild Mansour miss repeatedly before countering with his right hand.

But with Mansour's eyes badly swollen and his balance and technique gone by Round 10, Cunningham sealed his comeback by dropping his exhausted opponent with a flush overhand right.

"I was getting in there and talking to him and using mind tricks," said Cunningham, who outlanded Mansour 117 to 110, according to CompuBox. "He wasn't built for 'USS' Cunningham."

Stevens stops Johnson in final round

Trailing on all three scorecards, hard-hitting Curtis Stevens entered the final round against unbeaten Tureano Johnson in need of something dramatic.

He got it.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Stevens
Larry Levanti/Main EventsCurtis Stevens rescued victory from the jaws of defeat with a 10th-round TKO.
In a stay-busy fight that had quickly turned into a nightmare, Stevens provided a dramatic finish to a sure-fire fight of the year candidate by rallying to score a TKO over Johnson at 2:09 of Round 10.

Both fighters had repeatedly traded heavy punches at close range for nine grueling rounds. But Stevens (27-4, 20 KOs) was finally able to break a determined Johnson by badly hurting him with a left hook in the final round.

Stevens responded with a flurry of punches, including a hard right hand as Johnson was pinned against the ropes, causing referee Gary Rosato to jump in and wave off the fight. The stoppage elicited a series of boos from the Philadelphia crowd, which felt it was too early.

Johnson (14-1, 10 KOs), 30, who forced Stevens to fight at a breakneck pace from the opening bell by smothering him and attacking to the body, was ahead by scores of 87-84 and 89-82 (twice) at the time of the stoppage.

"I was looking for the knockout so much I never set it up the way I was supposed to," Stevens said. "But it came, better late than never. He smothered me a lot. He did what he was supposed to.

"But I got the knockout late and did what I was supposed to do."

Stevens hurt Johnson with a series of heavy right hands in Round 5 but was unable to take over the fight at any point. Johnson, who set the tone in Round 1 by attacking and turning the fight into a brawl, showed a tremendous chin by trading toe-to-toe with Stevens throughout and simply outworking his opponent.

Bradley: 'I will be hungrier than Pacquiao'

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
In the two years since his controversial June 2012 victory over Manny Pacquiao, unbeaten welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. has done nothing but grow as a fighter.

Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs), 30, survived a toe-to-toe war with Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013 before outboxing slick counterpuncher Juan Manuel Marques in October.

But the native of Palm Springs, Calif., returns April 12 in Las Vegas (HBO PPV) for a second go-around with Pacquiao. Bradley's split-decision victory in their first bout went down as one of the most controversial decisions in modern history.

Juan Manuel Marquez had to knock out Pacquiao to get a definitive result. Is that what you need to do? How do you accomplish this? How do you beat Pacquiao?

Marquez was in a little bit of a bigger hole when he knocked him out. He had fought him three times and was not able to secure a win in any of the first three fights. He had tried everything and had failed, so a knockout was the only way he would win.

I am in a slightly different position than Marquez was. I have already beat Pacquiao once, and that was on my first try. I don't think I have to knock him out to get a definite result, but, if the knockout presents itself, I will take advantage of it.

The first fight, I injured my foot in the second round and by the fourth round my ankle on my other foot was also messed up. The second half of the fight, I was coming on strong with two bad feet.

I didn't have the movement that I normally have, and I was outworking him. I was fighting all three minutes of every round and not just the last thirty seconds of every round.

This second fight against Manny Pacquiao, I will pick up right where I left off the first fight. This will just be rounds 13 through 24.

I was able to show my boxing ability against Marquez with two good feet, so this will be no different. I will be faster than Pacquiao, I will have better defense than Pacquiao, I will be hungrier than Pacquiao.

I have been in the ring with Pacquiao, so I know exactly what to expect. There are a few adjustments that I will make and with two good feet under me, and, at the end of the night, I will be victorious again!

And still...

Bradley: 'This is my chance at redemption' (Posted on March 26)

Talk about the frustration of winning the biggest fight of your life (first fight against Pacquiao) and not getting the recognition that goes with that.

Well, as many know, the first Pacquiao fight I was just supposed to be another opponent for the great Manny Pacquiao. Not many people gave me a chance to come out victorious, especially not after the type of winning streak that he had been on. His previous seven fights, Pacquiao had beaten and/or destroyed Juan Manuel Marquez, Sugar Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and Oscar de la Hoya.

No one thought I had what it took to beat Manny Pacquiao. So, when I did edge out the decision, I never got the credit I deserved. I busted my butt in training camp, as I always do for any fight, but this was the biggest fight in my career, so I pushed that much harder to prove to the world that I could beat Manny Pacquiao.

When the decision was announced that I had done enough to beat Manny, no one could believe what had happened -- and hardly anyone knew the physical conditions that I had gone through during the fight.

Beating Pacquiao was supposed to be the turning point in who Timothy Bradley really is, but instead it became a very dark point and time in my life. The boos turned into hatred and then hatred turned into death threats. I felt I had done enough to beat Pacquiao, but everyone was out to prove that I hadn't.

This was supposed to be my night, but instead it turned into a night where an icon not only lost but was also "robbed" by me. Everyone sat there in shock without realizing that I had just done what I set myself to do. No one stopped for a second and acknowledged my accomplishment.

Although I am certain I won the fight, it is now time to once again show the world who Timothy Bradley really is. On April 12, we will settle for once and for all the uncertainty of boxing followers and those of the fans.

This is my chance at redemption, and I promise I will make the most of it.

Bradley: 'Nothing can stop me' (Posted on March 20)

Discuss 2013 and how your fights against Provodnikov and Marquez solidified you as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

The year 2013 was a great one for me. I started out the year fighting a guy who wasn't very well known outside the boxing community by the name of Ruslan Provodnikov. You might have heard of him by now since our fight was voted fight of the year by the Boxing Writers of America. Ruslan has also gone on to win a junior welterweight title and has moved into many people's top 10 pound-for-pound lists.

My second fight of 2013 was against a current top five pound-for-pound guy that had just come off of the knockout of the year against Manny Pacquiao, the future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez. This fight, unlike the Provodnikov fight, was a chess match and I believe I gave Juan Manuel Marquez a boxing lesson.

With these two fights I was able to show that I can outbox a top-five pound-for-pound boxer and I could also go toe to toe with one of the most feared punchers in the sport. I was able to show the fans that I am a versatile fighter and can box and brawl as needed. I believe that being a top pound-for-pound fighter means that you have to do whatever it takes to win whether it's outbox your opponent or fight your opponent blow for blow in the center of the ring. I am out to prove that I am one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, if not the best.

In my two fights in 2013 I was able to show that I can do it all in the sport of boxing. This next fight will be no different in helping me show the fans that I am top pound for pound in the world. I have a lot to prove and nothing can stop me on my way to being No. 1 in the world.