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Friday, October 11, 2013
Bradley: Marquez's confidence will hurt him

By Brian Campbell

In what has been a relatively uneventful promotion leading up to Saturday's welterweight title bout between Timothy Bradley Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez, the one thing that has stood out is the high level of respect shown by the fighters toward each another.

This simply isn't the fight for those attracted to the sport by taunting and braggadocio. In its place has been a steady stream of each fighter talking up the other's ability and warrior spirit.

The careers of both Marquez and Bradley have been marked by their professionalism, and both men are keenly aware of how evenly matched they are in a bout that's as close to a pick-'em bout as you'll find between top-10 pound-for-pound fighters.

But if there's one thing that might rub Bradley the wrong way -- even just a little bit -- it's the belief that Marquez could potentially be overlooking him just a hair.

"Confidence is everything when it comes to fighting. The more confident you are, I think the better you perform," Bradley told ESPN.com last week. "And Marquez's confidence right now is through the roof. It's almost to the point where it's pretty damn near arrogant."

Few could blame Marquez for believing so highly in himself, however, especially in the aftermath of his one-punch knockout of career rival Manny Pacquiao in their fourth fight last December. But Bradley says he believes the challenger's recent surge of what he considers overconfidence is something that can play directly into the younger fighter's hands.

"[Marquez] is going to come out and think he's 'Mr. Big Shot,' " Bradley said. "He just knocked out Pacquiao and he's saying to himself, 'Who the hell is this little guy from Palm Springs, California, this Timothy Bradley? This young kid. I just knocked out Manny Pacquiao.' He's going to come out with that on his shoulder."

Because of Marquez's all-time high confidence, and the fact that the 40-year-old legend is giving up 10 years to his opponent, Bradley says he believes he'll be met in the center of the ring Saturday by an aggressive fighter intent on pushing the action and testing his chin early.

Bad idea, says Bradley.

"I hope he presses the action, because it's going to be his biggest mistake," Bradley said. "If he tries to go at my pace, he's going to die out."

In the aftermath of the hellacious beating Bradley took in an all-action March victory over Ruslan Provodnikov, there's a theory about the fighter's punch resistance that he is all too aware of. Naturally, it's a belief that he outright dismisses, pointing to a tremendous training camp in which he felt as fresh as can be.

But the thought is that if Marquez, a technically gifted counterpuncher and finisher, can land anything close to the number of clean shots that Provodnikov connected with to the chin of Bradley, Saturday's fight doesn't have a prayer of going the distance.

"One reporter told me Marquez was at camp breaking bags and busting this and that," Bradley said. "I'm like, 'I don't give a damn what he's doing.' I don't care, man. I'm not a bag. I'm not going to sit there and let this guy just hit on me. It's not going to happen.

"He's definitely stronger. He's probably hitting harder and carrying his weight better. But I think I'm the naturally bigger 147-pounder. I should be the stronger and bigger guy in this fight, without a doubt."