Boxing: Juan Manuel Marquez

Chris Algieri in his own words

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
Junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri is having a good year. In February he defeated Emanuel Taylor to set up a title fight against Ruslan Provodnikov four months later. After being down twice in the first round, Algieri rallied to defeat Provodnikov by split decision and win the title.

Algieri (28-0, 8 KOs), who was a heavy underdog before the fight with Provodnikov, credited his conditioning to being a nutritionist and taking care of his body.

On Nov. 22, in the biggest fight of his career, Algieri will face welterweight beltholder Manny Pacquiao in Macau, China (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET). Pacquiao has won two fights in a row since losing consecutive fights in 2012 for the first time in his career -- a split decision against Timothy Bradley Jr. and a sixth-round KO to Juan Manuel Marquez.

In his own words, Algieri talks about the advantages of having the perfect diet, exercising and preparing for a 12-round fight against one of the best fighters in the world.

Which one of your victories taught you the most about overcoming obstacles inside the ring?

“My 10th pro bout against Julius Edmonds. I went into the fight with a sore right hand and then broke my left hand in the 2nd round. Finding a way to win has always been a major part of my style and strategy. I didn’t even tell my coaches I was injured until after the fight. I finished the fight with a 4th round KO and that truly was one of the biggest obstacles if not the biggest I have ever had to overcome.

“And let’s not forget in my most previous fight against Ruslan Provodnikov. I made a mistake in the first round and I paid for it. I was forced to pay the price and fight the remainder of the fight with a badly swollen eye. But, I still found a way to win. Sticking to the game plan, and staying focused in times of adversity, that’s what separates me from other fighters. My mental make-up and my mental strength has always been the difference in my fights, and that is what will propel me once again to victory on November 22nd.”

What is it about your opponent’s style that makes it so difficult? Is your kickboxing knowledge an advantage? Leg movements is very important when you have to fight against an opponent like Manny Pacquiao.

“It is not so much Manny’s style but his experience level that makes him such a dangerous opponent. He has had over 60 pro fights and been fighting for a very long time against the top fighters in the world. It is going to be my job to test how bad he actually still wants this.

“My kickboxing experience is an advantage not so much my knowledge of the sport. It is another one-on-one sport, the training and preparation is similar and at the end of the day you are in a fight. I have been fighting pretty much all my life.

“Yes Manny has great footwork. He is in and out and side to side, so being able to control the space in the ring is very important when fighting with someone with a style like Manny. Being a ring general is going to be a big part in this fight as it is with all my fights.”

What type of challenges come with preparing for a fight on another continent with a much different start time? What’s at stake for the winner inside the welterweight division? What are your goals for the future in boxing?

“It just means you have to do a lot more time management in terms of scheduling and thinking ahead. You can’t just wing it, but I don’t do that with any part of my training anyways, so it is of no concern to me. Also we will be fighting at noon over there, and that is exactly what time I always spar, so that will actually be better for me. I am a morning person so being able to fight during the day will actually play in my favor.

“This is the top of the sport. The winner here goes on to make the biggest fights that are possible not only the welterweight division but in all of boxing. A win will propel me into the top of the pound-for-pound ratings and viewed as one of the best fighters in all of boxing.

“At this point I want the biggest fights out there. I have spent a long time fighting off TV and outside of the public eye. Now I want that exposure and I want to fight the biggest names out there in boxing. I want to show that I belong here. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, and I don't plan on leaving now that I am here.”

Does being a nutritionist give you an advantage on how to prepare your body for a 12-round fight and 12 weeks of training? Describe your diet, exercising habits and hours of sleep.

“I average between eight to nine hours of sleep a night/day between naps. I generally eat between five to seven times a day, around 3,500 calories during training camp. I eat lots of fresh fruits and colorful veggies to help with recovery.

“I also eat a lot of complex grains and no processed foods. I prepare and cook about 90 percent of my own food and meals.

“I train six days a week. Most days I train twice a day. I do strength and conditioning twice a week, cardio four times a week and boxing five days a week. With my cardio I do more sprint work than distance work, but I alternate between the two.

“I also get weekly massages for recovery once a week and take an ice bath after every sparring session, which is not fun, but it is necessary.

“I take a very scientific and calculated approach to everything I do when in training leading up to the fight and in the ring on fight night. Manny said that I will be the most conditioned and smartest fighter that he will ever face. He is right.”

Box Fan Expo good for boxing fans

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
Mike Tyson Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Box Fan Expo will give fans the chance to meet some of their favorite fighters.
In a sport as disorganized and politically controlled as boxing, it’s not uncommon to see the sport’s two most important entities -- the fighters and the fans -- get the short end of the stick.

Alonzo Benezra wants to see that change.

“It’s about the fighters and it’s about the fans,” said Benezra, the creator and organizer of the first annual Box Fan Expo. “That’s the primary things. All the rest is secondary.”

Modeled after a similar annual event put on by the UFC, the first Box Fan Expo will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the same day as Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s rematch against Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Arena (9 p.m. ET, Showtime PPV).

“It’s going to be quite an experience for the boxing industry, as well as the fans who deserve this and need this,” Benezra said. “Finally they get a chance to meet their boxing heroes and it’s a chance for the promoters to tap into the fans that never get to see the fighters face to face. We want the fighters to make money and brand whichever product they want to brand.”

Fans can expect to get a chance to meet some of boxing’s most popular names, past and present, including fighters, trainers, promoters and broadcasters. Some of the confirmed names include Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr., Riddick Bowe, Juan Manuel Marquez, Sergio Martinez, Robert Guerrero and Brandon Rios, with more constantly being added.

After watching the success of the UFC Fan Expo, Benezra had a vision of a similar event for boxing.

“When you watch the UFC, you see that they are branding their company so well and have really set the mark,” Benezra said. “I want to salute them as they are showing us how to do this.”

Benezra, however, was quick to point out an obvious hurdle between the potential success of his event and that of the UFC -- organization. Yet, despite the clear advantages of the UFC’s linear structure -- with all entities ultimately falling under one flag -- Benezra sees his event helping boxing get closer to a similar vision.

“Boxing is so fragmented, but because of that, it’s a chance to take all these fragmented pieces and come together under one roof and show the world we can come together when it’s for the fans,” Benezra said. “This event was only built for the fans. But it also gives the boxing industry an opportunity to network in between for those who haven’t had the chance to connect.

“I’m sure there are going to be deals made at the expo and we welcome every single angle. We just wanted to create a platform for the fighters to have a chance to promote themselves.”

Getting boxing’s biggest rivals, from a promotional sense, to come together under one roof would surely be a rare occurrence for the sport. But it’s all part of Benezra’s long-term vision for the event, which would annually take place on the weekend of the sport’s biggest fight.

The way Benezra sees it, boxing’s hard-core fan base will always be there to support the sport through thick and thin. But for the sport to truly cultivate new fans, there needs to be harmony, with its biggest players coming together to put the fans first.

“The message that I want to send to the boxing industry and to the top promoters is that they should support Box Fan Expo 100 percent because, in return, it will come back to them,” Benezra said. “Imagine if they have all of their fighters coming together under one roof. This is going to be the most powerful event of the year because you are having all of these fans and all of these countries and top celebrities together. How can anyone compete?”

Tickets for the event are $30 in advance online and $40 at the gate. Fans can visit the Box Fan Expo website for more information.

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.”

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.

Bradley: 'This is my chance at redemption'

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
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.

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 Paquiao 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 shocked without realizing that I had just done what I set myself to do. No one stopped for a second and acknowledge 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.

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.

Pac-Man chomps his way to lightweight title

October, 11, 2013
Diaz/PacquiaoChris Cozzone/AFP/Getty ImagesManny Pacquiao stopped David Diaz in the ninth round to win the lightweight title in 2008.
Leading up to Juan Manuel Marquez's bid to win a world title in a fifth different weight class on Saturday, will look back at the elite group of fighters who have already achieved the feat -- we'll roll out a new one each day this week -- in our "Five In Five" series.

Actor, politician, boxer. Manny Pacquiao is all of those things. He is the also the fifth and final member of the “five in five” club. Entering the night of June 28, 2008, Pacquiao had won titles at flyweight, junior featherweight, featherweight, and junior lightweight. He was coming off a split-decision victory in his second matchup with Juan Manuel Marquez, and had twice defeated both Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.

Chicago native David Diaz might have not had the star power like Marquez, Morales and Barrera. What did he have was a solid résumé. He was a member of the 1996 United States Olympic team, owned a victory over the aforementioned Morales and held the WBC lightweight title. He was also the obstacle hoping to prevent Pacquiao from joining the ranks of the sport’s greatest of all-time.

Diaz would put up a spirited effort, but like many others before it, this was Pacquiao’s night. The Filipino icon carved up Diaz’s face with a lethal combination of speed and power. Pacquiao landed the coup de grce with a short left to Diaz’s chin. Referee Vic Drakulich didn’t even bother to count, as he called a halt at the 2:24 mark of the ninth round.

Pacquiao landed 230 of 788 punches, a connect rate of 29 percent and 180 of those landed punches, including the finisher, were power shots. Diaz managed to land just 90 of his 463 punches, according to Compubox.

This turned out to be Pacquiao’s only fight at lightweight. In his next fight, he stopped Oscar De La Hoya after eight rounds in what turned out to be the Golden Boy’s final professional fight.

Pacquiao went on to defeat Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito to become the only fighter in history to win world titles in eight different weight classes.

--Statistical support from Compubox

Bradley: 'I don’t back down'

October, 8, 2013

When unbeaten welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. claims he’s willing to do something, we’re at the point now where doubting him would be a futile endeavor.

“A lot of people say that they are willing to do whatever it takes,” Bradley told Oct. 2. “But they don’t really believe it, especially when they get into tough situations. I think what separates me from a lot of fighters is when the tough get going, I get tougher. And that’s the bottom line.”


I'm the type of guy who wants to control the tempo. I hate sitting back. I don't like to wait. I like action.

" -- Timothy Bradley Jr.
Bradley’s quote probably would be written off as mere “fighter speak” had we not witnessed his incomparable will on display March 16 against Ruslan Provodnikov. It was that night in Carson, Calif., when Bradley’s claims that he was willing to “die in that ring” and “go into the devil’s mouth and do what I have to do” came to life in such startling and violent fashion.

Despite claiming a tight victory on the scorecards in the front-runner for fight-of-the-year honors, Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) was staggered repeatedly by Provodnikov and forced to draw on an obscene amount of heart in order to fight back and survive.

No one realizes more than Bradley -- who admitted to suffering a concussion so severe that he had slurred speech for two months -- what a mistake it was to eschew his game plan to box by trading so recklessly with a bigger puncher. It was the kind of fight, to borrow a boxing cliché, with the potential to steal a fighter’s prime in one night.

Yet even though Bradley endured one of the worst beatings administered to a winning fighter in recent years, he fought back so competently during stretches of dire danger. And by doing that, Bradley discovered a superhuman recuperative ability within himself -- and with that, a double-edged sword.

[+] EnlargeTimothy Bradley
AP Photo/Jae C. HongDespite being knocked down several times in a brutal bout, Timothy Bradley Jr., left, won a narrow unanimous decision against Ruslan Provodnikov in March.
As Bradley enters Saturday’s title defense in Las Vegas against Juan Manuel Marquez (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET), will he avoid the temptation of calling upon the one career-shortening attribute -- his ability to endure untold punishment -- when using it could prove to be the difference between winning and losing the biggest fight of his career?

Bradley, who says he surprised even himself with the grit he displayed against Provodnikov, chalked up the fight to simply having to “do what I had to do and no one, not even my trainer, could stop me from doing what I had to do that night.” But to his credit, he has said the right things about the dangers of trading with a finisher as technically sound as Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs), who outright defines what a legendary counterpuncher should look like.

“Marquez is the best fighter that I’ve ever faced to date and I have to be very intelligent and can’t really open up like I’d like to,” Bradley said. “I’m the type of guy who wants to control the tempo. I hate sitting back. I don’t like to wait. I like action. But if I was going to come forward and be the aggressor, Marquez is the kind of fighter who sits back and waits on you to make mistakes.”

What complicates things, however, are the comments Bradley sandwiches around those, which hint at the fighter’s inability to hit the brakes once the bout inevitably turns into a war.

“Most fighters wither when it gets tough,” Bradley said. “When that storm comes on, they back down. I don’t back down.”

As much as Bradley, 30, intends to rely on a 10-year age difference, as well as advantages in speed and footwork, he eventually will find himself at a crossroads, when Marquez makes him fight. And at his very core, that’s who Bradley is -- a fighter.

He’s the same fighter who got off the canvas twice to defeat Kendall Holt. The same man who blocked out significant injuries to his left foot and right ankle in order to finish strong against Manny Pacquiao. And the same guy who crawled through the depths of darkness to finish on his feet against Provodnikov.

Bradley can say what he wants about introducing caution to his game plan, but there simply doesn’t appear to be an off-switch. Not for a guy who has relied this much on his iron will to defy expectations, remain unbeaten and put himself one step closer to his dream of being the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Sadly, his greatest asset also may be the biggest enemy to his long-term health and the shelf life of his career. And despite what’s at stake for Bradley in the short term on Saturday, that could be a scary thing.

“This is a great moment for me and my family and everybody that’s involved in my career,” Bradley said. “You always think you’re going to get there but you’re never really sure because you can’t really predict the future. But it’s here, now. It’s right here in my face.

"So I say to myself: What are you going to do about it, Bradley? What are you going to do? It’s right here. No more talking, no more work. What are you going to do?”

Indeed. What are you going to do?

Looking back on 10 years at ringside

September, 18, 2013

Time flies, and last week’s festivities at the MGM Grand brought home a sudden realization that Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s master class on Saturday night came 10 years and one day after my first credentialed fight.

There were a fair few differences between that first fight and my latest: In 2003, my credential was red (signifying I rated only a bleacher seat) instead of ringside green, my affiliation was merely "freelance," and in the identifying photo my mouth was smiling and my hair wasn’t gray. But there were similarities, too: Both bouts were at the MGM, both involved the most popular boxer in the world at the time and both were the culmination of weeks of hype and publicity.

My memories of that first fight are as fresh as though it had been fought 10 months, rather than 10 years, ago, and the passage of time has spawned reflections on the numerous notable memories from a decade of being paid to watch fights.

So here’s a list of my top 10 (12, actually, because I kind of cheated) ringside recollections -- not necessarily the best fights (although some of them were terrific) but what, for me personally, have been my most memorable ringside experiences so far.

Shane Mosley W12 Oscar De La Hoya -- MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Sept. 13, 2003

Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya
Chris Polk/Getty ImagesShane Mosley edged Oscar De La Hoya for a decision win in 12 rounds in 2003.
Not exactly a ringside recollection, as I watched proceedings from the auxiliary section, but this was the first of what -- although I had no way of knowing it at the time -- would turn out to be more than a decade of professional prizefights for which I was credentialed.

From my seat in the bleachers, I thought the Golden Boy had eked out a decision in a good fight; most of those ringside, where the power of Mosley’s blows were more telling, seemed to agree with the official verdict. Personally, I most remember the thrill of experiencing my inaugural big-fight atmosphere, and the strange feeling of anticlimax on Sunday morning when it was all over.

Antonio Tarver TKO2 Roy Jones Jr. -- Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, May 15, 2004
The defining moment of postfight shock and awe. Jones had looked mortal in the first encounter between the two men, but that had widely been attributed to his struggles returning to 175 pounds after his brief and successful excursion to heavyweight. But Tarver had his number, and when he landed the big punch that marked the end of Jones’ era of dominance, the crowd responded with an initial roar, followed by a stunned silence, culminating in 12,000 people reaching simultaneously for their cellphones to tell friends, “Holy ****, Roy Jones just got knocked out!”

Diego Corrales TK10 Jose Luis Castillo -- Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, May 7, 2005

Jose Castillo and Diego
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesEverybody in boxing remembers the incredible fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo fight in Las Vegas in 2005.
Even if this fight had been a dud, it would for me have been memorable: The previous night, the Boxing Writers Association of America's annual dinner had concluded with one of the finest gatherings of past and present champions to stand on one stage; and Gordon Absher, then the Mandalay Bay’s PR guru, had indulged my literary bent by seating me next to the great Budd Schulberg on fight night. Seriously, how could it possibly get any better? Then Corrales and Castillo started throwing punches, and the 4,000 or so souls in the arena became bound together in witnessing one of the very greatest professional prizefights ever -- a fight that effectively ruined both the combatants while leaving an indelible memory on everyone fortunate enough to be there.

Manny Pacquiao TK10 Erik Morales -- Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Jan. 21, 2006
Manny Pacquiao KO3 Erik Morales -- Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nov. 18, 2006

For reasons I can’t quite remember, but presumably related to a lack of money, I watched the first tilt between these two on TV in my cabin in Alaska. The indelible memory of their second contest, apart from Pacquiao turning around a fight he was losing and storming to a stoppage win, was the unrelenting volume inside the arena, as rival Mexican and Filipino fight fans shouted themselves hoarse. I imagined it was like sticking your head next to a jet engine. The third was much the same, and at the end of that contest the feeling was of one man reaching the end of his career and another about to launch his into the stratosphere.

Floyd Mayweather TKO10 Ricky Hatton -- MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Dec. 8, 2007

Ah, the Brits. My people. So very many of them, so very drunk, and singing so very loudly. For a week, Las Vegas became Manchester with better weather and colder beer, as Hatton’s fans sang constantly to remind themselves how many Ricky Hattons there are; and even when that one Ricky Hatton was stopped in the 10th round, they sang and drank some more.

Antonio Margarito TKO11 Miguel Cotto -- MGM Grand, Las Vegas, July 26, 2008
Miguel Cotto TKO10 Antonio Margarito -- Madison Square Garden, New York, Dec. 3, 2011

Miguel Cotto
AP Photo/ Ronda ChurchillAntonio Margarito demolished Miguel Cotto in their first fight, but then was suspended for alleged handwrap tampering.
During the buildup to the first fight, I was convinced that Cotto was on the verge of breaking through to the next level, to the very top echelons of pound-for-pound lists. And for much of the early going, the Puerto Rican appeared vastly superior to his opponent in every way, until Margarito ground him down and stopped him in what became a truly violent brawl. The suspicions that emerged afterward, following Margarito’s suspension for alleged handwrap tampering, led to a febrile atmosphere in New York three years later. The fact that Margarito was essentially a one-eyed man being served up for punishment concerned the Puerto Ricans in the arena not one bit, and the guttural roar when Cotto glared at his beaten foe segued into dancing on Seventh Avenue afterward.

Manny Pacquiao W12 Joshua Clottey -- Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas, March 13, 2010

The fight itself was kinda meh. Clottey spent most of his time impersonating a turtle as Pacquiao bang-bang-banged away. But there was a real sense of occasion about it all: Jerry Jones, Cowboys Stadium, that scoreboard … One can only wonder how immense it all would have been had the man across the ring been, as originally intended, not Joshua Clottey but Floyd Mayweather.

Lamont Peterson W12 Amir Khan -- Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2011.

For all but seven of the nearly 20 years I’ve been in the United States, I’ve lived in the District of Columbia or its northern Virginia suburbs, so to have an HBO fight in what is effectively my hometown, and with a hometown fighter -- a hometown fighter who had grown up sleeping on the streets near the arena where he was now fighting, even –- scoring an upset win over a big star, with a fevered crowd screaming “D.C., D.C., D.C.” … it was all very cool, even if a pair of point deductions by an over-officious referee (to say nothing of the later revelations of Peterson’s synthetic testosterone intake) fouled the punch bowl.

Juan Manuel Marquez KO6 Manny Pacquiao -- MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Dec. 8, 2012

Manny Pacquiao
Zumapress/Icon SMIIn his fourth attempt, Juan Manuel Marquez finally beat Manny Pacquiao.
If much of the world greeted the buildup to their fourth encounter with a comparative shrug, the predominantly Mexican crowd viewed it with eager anticipation, desperate for Marquez to finally secure the official victory they felt he had three times been unjustly denied. It did not matter to them that Marquez entered the ring looking like the Incredible Hulk; they wanted a win, and when it came -– with Pacquiao dropping face-first like a stone -- the tide of emotion that crashed through the arena was a mixture of delirious joy and inconsolable grief, with the fevered wailing of a distraught Jinkee Pacquiao a powerful reminder of the realities of what is at stake when two men enter the ring.

Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Sept. 14, 2013

From the massive throng that spilled out of the MGM Grand lobby to watch the fighters’ arrivals on Tuesday, to the crowd that stood three-deep to catch a glimpse of even the undercard fighters working out the next day, to the incomparable weigh-in experience in front of 12,200 fans -- and, of course, the enthusiastic but ultimately futile cries of “si se puede” and “Ca-ne-lo” during the main event -- this was, from beginning to end, almost certainly the most intense big fight week I’ve yet experienced.

Note to the “this was boxing’s last big fight” crowd: At the time of my first fight, nobody would have predicted that in 10 years’ time, Mayweather Jr. would be the man carrying the sport on his back, as De La Hoya did before him, as Mike Tyson did before him. Someone out there is boxing’s next big superstar. He may already be on HBO, he may be fighting undercard six-rounders, he may not yet have turned pro. But when he hits the highest heights, his biggest fights will be true events, just as much as Mayweather’s are now. And if I’m fortunate, I’ll be there covering them.

Roach: Rios the right foe for Pacquiao

May, 7, 2013

Manny Pacquiao has lost his past two bouts, so his next scrap, against Brandon Rios in Macau on Nov. 24 (Nov. 23 in the U.S.) is beyond crucial.

I checked in with Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, and asked him for his take on the bout, Rios as a foe and all matters Manny.

-So, Freddie, is this a must-win for Manny?
Yeah, if he loses I will tell him to retire.

What if he loses in a great fight?
If you lose three in a row it's your time. He's up there in age, I've got to keep a close eye on him. It's part of my job to protect him. I will do the right thing, I don't want him to be a stepping-stone.

-And if Manny ever started accepting fights in which he was booked as the figurative stepping-stone?
Would I step down if he is the stepping-stone, I'd have to, yes. I will never go into a fight I don't think we win.

-Is Rios the right foe, though, for Manny to snap a two-fight losing streak?
I believe so. Rios likes to exchange, stay in the pocket, but Manny is faster and hits harder. I think Manny will knock him out. I think it will be a great fight, Rios will talk and embarrass himself, but it will be a great fight.

-Rios got in hot water when a video of him emerged apparently mocking you, approximating the symptoms of Parkinson's, which you battle, back in fall 2010. Do you hold that against him?
It showed what an ass he is. Revenge will be great. That doesn't stick with me so much as other people that have Parkinson's who are not boxers. It was a childish thing to do, him and his trainer. They're a bunch of a-------, can't wait to beat them."

Roach said he doesn't think that trainer Robert Garcia deserves his reputation as a nice guy, necessarily. The video showed former champion Antonio Margarito mimicking Parkinson's symptoms, and Garcia picking up on it, and encouraging Rios to also do an impersonation of Roach dealing with tremors. "I don't think Garcia has ever been a nice guy," Roach said.

Garcia, at the time, apologized but also defended Rios. "He didn't even know Freddie had a disease," Garcia said to Dan Rafael. "He thought it was from 13 losses that Freddie Roach had when he was a professional boxer."

That backstory aside, Roach said that Rios will be active early, then fade.

"He's a pretty good puncher early," the trainer said. "Then he'll fatigue. But it's a very tough fight, we have to be at our best."

Roach said he and Pacquiao both wanted a fifth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Roach admitted he doesn't know why Marquez instead chose to meet Timothy Bradley in September.

"Who cares about that fight? Rios will bring good numbers to the table."

Pac, Marquez in N.Y. to hype fight

September, 19, 2012
Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have bumped heads and fists three times already, and even though Pacquiao has a 2-0-1 mark against the Mexican counterpunching ace, the jury is still out on which man has gotten the better of the other, at least among fight fans.

So the congressman from the Philippines and Marquez will glove up and face off again on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas. The fighters and promoter Bob Arum arrived in New York on Wednesday to hype the clash, which will unfold at the MGM Grand and on pay-per-view. The fight will be contested in the welterweight class, 147 pounds or less.

The 33-year-old Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs), coming off a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. on June 9 in Vegas, took his time picking his next foe. Some thought he should secure a rematch with Bradley to prove what many watchers believed, that he deserved the win despite the marks on the judges' scorecard. But Pacquiao chose to fight the 39-year-old Marquez (54-6-1, with 39 KOs), a champion in four weight classes, who at the Edison Ballroom in New York City on Wednesday insisted that he won all three bouts against "Pacman."

Pacquiao, who has won titles in eight different weight classes, told the media that he wants to knock out Marquez, to remove all doubt just who is the better man. The fighter, who turns 34 on Dec. 17, hasn't scored a win via stoppage since 2009, when he won on a TKO in Round 12 against Miguel Cotto.

Pacquiao said he wanted to make the fight "as short as possible," and hopes to turn back the clock and fight like a 25-year-old version of himself. His trainer, Freddie Roach, admitted that he still hasn’t deciphered Marquez, but said he will ask Pacquiao to press Marquez like he did in their first encounter, in 2004. In that fight, Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the first round, though the decision ended in a draw.

Marquez, in Spanish, said he has nothing to prove, “because I won all three fights.”

Their 2008 rematch resulted in a split decision win for Pacquiao, with the lefty scoring a knockdown in round three. The last tussle between the two took place on Nov. 12, 2011; the scores were 115-113, 116-112 Pacquiao, and 114-114, even.

Pacquiao-Cotto rematch makes sense

August, 8, 2012
It's interesting how a few years can reshape perspective in the world of boxing. In a land where a fighter is only as good as his last performance, there are few truths in the sport that aren't built on perception.

So while Top Rank promoter Bob Arum spends this week in the Philippines with Manny Pacquiao picking over a list of three potential November opponents for the fighter to choose from, the best option -- for boxing, at least -- might not seem so apparent.

[+] EnlargeManny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto
Al Bello/Getty Images Whether or not it's the best option for Manny Pacquiao, a rematch with Miguel Cotto would be fantastic news for boxing.
There's the fight we think we want (Juan Manuel Marquez), the fight we know we don't want (Timothy Bradley Jr.) and the fight that we're convinced we shouldn't want (Miguel Cotto).

Yet after weighing the merits of each against the others, there's just one (surprising) choice that makes the most sense.

Mostly lost in Pacquiao's 12th-round TKO of Cotto in November 2009 -- the apex of the Filipino star's implausible run through four weight classes in less than three years -- was an opening four rounds that had the makings of an all-time great action bout.

Let's take a look back at the highlights from this high-level slugfest:

ROUND 1: While the opening round provided the least amount of toe-to-toe action among the fight's first four, it was equally intriguing. Cotto controlled the round with a thudding, accurate jab that snapped Pacquiao's head back in the opening seconds and consistently moved him backward. Cotto also established the legitimacy of his hand speed by stinging Pacquiao with counter hooks. It took Pacquiao, who rallied in the final 30 seconds, nearly two full minutes to land his first clean shot in a round dominated by Cotto.

ROUND 2: Pacquiao landed a string of lead left hands early, which slowed the use of Cotto's jab considerably. The round -- and ultimately the tenor of the fight -- hit a turning point with 1:45 to go when Pacquiao landed consecutive flush combinations. It was vintage PacMan: at his most dangerous when attacking from deceiving angles. Cotto responded immediately by stepping up his intensity, and the result was breathtaking two-way action highlighted by Cotto's hard left hooks to the side of the head (Pacquiao's right ear required draining after the fight due to a blood clot.) Cotto's premature entry into fight-or-flight mode, however, came with a cost by playing perfectly to the strength of his quicker, countering opponent. Pacquiao's granite chin was supremely tested, and it passed with flying colors.

ROUND 3: Cotto found early success by returning to his jab. Pacquiao responded in the ensuing minute with an immaculate display of boxing, darting in and out to land a series of stiff shots. The punches set up a stunning three-punch combination to the head and body (so quick that the punches appeared to land simultaneously), which Cotto never saw coming. The final punch -- a short right hook -- floored Cotto with ease, although it stunned him more with confusion than power. A resilient Cotto regained his feet and continued to brawl, snapping Pacquiao's head back with a vicious uppercut to dramatically close the round.

ROUND 4: The action was amplified as both fighters gave as good as they received for nearly three full minutes in the center of the ring. If this wasn't the most exciting round of the fight -- and arguably the year -- it was just as good as the previous two. Twice Pacquiao was forced to fight his way off the ropes in a violent, two-way drama that also proved to be Cotto's last stand as a threat to hurt his opponent. Pacquiao's half-hook, half-uppercut with 25 seconds to go nearly decapitated Cotto en route to the canvas. It was the single most devastating punch of the fight, capping a wildly entertaining four rounds.

Pacquiao went on to pitch a virtual shutout over the final eight rounds as a wounded Cotto never recovered from the early onslaught. Talk of a rematch by Arum at different points over subsequent years were rightfully dismissed by fans as a potential money-grab for Top Rank.

But time is a tricky thing, and just enough of it has gone by to help redefine what we now consider to be the reality of the fighters' current levels.

With their first fight contested at a catchweight of 145 pounds, there's no telling the impact it had on the naturally bigger Cotto. (Arum said he believes Pacquiao would be willing to do a potential rematch at 150 pounds.)

Pacquiao is also clearly not the same dynamic force who once steamrolled Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Cotto in consecutive bouts, as evidenced by his past three fights. At 33, Pacquiao not only has been unable to duplicate the same relentless pace for full rounds, which was once his staple, he also noticeably faded in the second half against Shane Mosley and Bradley.

Cotto, meanwhile, appears completely removed from the version of the fighter who had been labeled damaged goods in the aftermath of a brutal loss to Antonio Margarito, and has rebuilt his confidence at 154 pounds.
At 31, Cotto has seen his stock as a fighter soar under new trainer Pedro Diaz, with the duo fresh off an inspired performance in which Cotto roughed up Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a May defeat -- the same fight that a large portion of the general public believed Cotto would be embarrassed in.

A rematch with Bradley would do nothing to advance Pacquiao's legend or the sport. And as much as many would enjoy seeing Marquez get a chance to validate his three impressive showings to date against Pacquiao, a fourth meeting adds little to the legacy of their rivalry.

For fans of both Pacquiao and boxing, the danger in holding on too tightly to the dream of a Mayweather bout is that there's no reason to anticipate a change in the poor matchmaking that has slowly wasted a good bit of Pacquiao's prime.

In Cotto's recent bout with Mayweather, we were reminded just how exciting and galvanizing a marquee fight with two crossover stars who never fail to deliver can be for the sport. Pacquiao and Cotto have an opportunity to do the same thing.

Three years ago, they gave us a sample of an explosive meeting between all-time greats. The plotlines surrounding them may have changed, but a high-profile rematch that promises excitement just might represent the best fight that realistically can be made.

FNF: Pacquiao-Bradley preview

May, 31, 2012

Whether or not Manny Pacquiao is becoming increasingly distracted by outside interests or, at age 33, is finally starting to slow down inside the ring, many experts believe Timothy Bradley Jr. could be the biggest threat to the welterweight champ in years. For more thoughts from the "Friday Night Fights" crew and Teddy Atlas' fight plans for both Pacquiao and Bradley, watch the video above.
Word is out that Juan Manuel Marquez will not, in fact, be gloving up at Cowboys Stadium in July, and it looks as though he'll be playing the waiting game, holding out for Manny Pacquiao and a fourth tangle between the two tighterthanthis rivals.

Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, is aiming for a November clash between his fighter and Marquez, whose welterweight title bout in November resulted in a Pacquiao majority decision -- and yet another disputed outcome in their rivalry. I asked Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, to weigh in on the possibility of another Manny-Marquez tussle.

"It's not my favorite fight," the trainer said. "We fought three times, Manny beat him two out of three times. I don't see the point in it. They know each other so well. If we can't get [Floyd] Mayweather, I don't see why we fight Marquez again."

Beyond Mayweather, Roach cited his desire to see Pacquiao face the winner of the scheduled Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto rematch, but our chat took place before Berto tested positive for nandrolone, scuttling the fight.

Any better ideas, Freddie?

"Brandon Rios makes a lot of noise," Roach said.
On Saturday, boxing fans will celebrate the Mexican festival of Cinco de Mayo by watching an American and a Puerto Rican do battle in the Nevada desert. More than anybody else, Oscar De La Hoya -- an American of Mexican descent -- popularized Cinco de Mayo (or the Saturday nearest to it) as a big fight weekend in Las Vegas, but since his retirement, the aforementioned American (Floyd Mayweather Jr.) and the Philippines' Manny Pacquiao have been the date's biggest pugilistic stars. Hey, imagine how crazy it would be if the two of them ever ... no, let's not go there. We have an actual fight to look forward to this weekend, a title bout between Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, and in the meantime, here's a reminder of some of the best May 5(ish) fights in Sin City's recent history.

5. Julio Cesar Chavez TD8 Frankie Randall, May 7, 1994, MGM Grand
Earlier in the year, Randall's points victory in the same venue brought Chavez his first official loss, in his 91st professional bout. The rematch was closely fought, but when Chavez said he was unable to continue after being cut by an accidental clash of heads, he was declared the winner on a technical decision (aided by a WBC rule that the accidental butter always be deducted a point; without that stipulation, the result would have been a split-decision draw.) The fight was the main event of a Don King card called "Revenge: the Rematches" that featured Terry Norris, Simon Brown, Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan, Azumah Nelson and Jesse James Leija in perhaps the most stacked pay-per-view broadcast in boxing history.

4. Oscar De La Hoya TKO6 Ricardo Mayorga, May 6, 2006, MGM Grand
De La Hoya's final victory on the Las Vegas stage, and what a stirring one it was. Mayorga had genuinely infuriated the Golden Boy with his prefight taunts, and the vastly superior former Olympian punished him for it, dropping him once in the first and twice in the sixth. At his peak, De La Hoya brought an unmatched electricity to fight crowds, and this night was no exception. The atmosphere was off the hook, and as De La Hoya climbed the ropes to salute his fans in victory, it felt at the time like the perfect coda to a Hall of Fame career.

3. Manny Pacquiao D12 Juan Manuel Marquez, May 8, 2004, MGM Grand
The first installment of an intense and ongoing rivalry almost didn't make it past the first round of this encounter. Pacquiao, fresh off his shocking annihilation of Marco Antonio Barrera, flattened Barrera's countryman three times in that opening frame. Somehow, Marquez survived and fought his way back into the contest. Two fights and eight years later, Marquez remains Pacquiao's nemesis, and vice versa.

2. Manny Pacquiao KO2 Ricky Hatton, May 2, 2009, MGM Grand
This year was Pacquiao's annus mirabilis, in which he followed his 2008 demolition of De La Hoya with stoppage wins over Cotto and, previously, Hatton. The Englishman was down twice in the first round, unable to escape Pacquiao's right hooks, but was working his way back into the contest until PacMan uncorked a thunderbolt of a left hand at the end of the second to leave him spread-eagle on the canvas.

1. Diego Corrales TKO10 Jose Luis Castillo, May 7, 2005, Mandalay Bay
One of the greatest fights of all time -- heck, one could make a case that it was the greatest fight of all time -- will be forever remembered for its conclusive 10th round. Castillo put down Corrales hard and seconds later knocked him down again. Corrales spat out his mouthpiece and earned a point deduction for doing so, but it bought him precious time while the mouthpiece was cleaned, time that trainer Joe Goossen used to tell Corrales, "You'd better f---ing get inside of him now." And so Corrales did, summoning the strength to crack Castillo with a perfect right hand and then tearing into him on the ropes until referee Tony Weeks stopped the contest.

Corrales never won another fight. Two years later, to the very day, he was dead. But his memory, and the memory of his greatest moment in a boxing ring, will live forever.