Dan Rafael: Timothy Bradley Jr.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.Noel Vasquez/GC Images

Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is getting ready for his welterweight unification fight with Marcos Maidana on Saturday (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but that didn’t stop him from critiquing fighters involved in two recent major fights that were also at the MGM.

Mayweather was impressed by former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez’s dominant 10th-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo on March 8 but not much by either Manny Pacquiao or Timothy Bradley Jr., who squared off in a rematch April 12.

“Canelo looked unbelievable against Angulo,” said Mayweather, who rolled to a one-sided decision against Alvarez to unify junior middleweight belts in September in the richest fight in boxing history. “I was like, this guy, he’s back. What else can I say? It’s the only thing I can say, that he’s back.”

Mayweather-Pacquiao has loomed as boxing’s biggest potential fight for years, but the future Hall of Famers have never been able to make a deal despite multiple efforts. Both sides deserve their share of blame.

To the surprise of many, Mayweather said he watched Pacquiao-Bradley II, an exciting fight that Pacquiao won by clear unanimous decision to reclaim his welterweight belt and right the wrong by two judges in their first meeting two years ago.

Mayweather typically says he doesn’t watch Pacquiao’s fights. What Mayweather did see did not impress him.

“Yes, actually I did watch the fight. You know, I haven’t seen Pacquiao fight in years. I’ve seen highlights,” Mayweather said. “I haven’t seen Pacquiao since before [he knocked out] Miguel Cotto [in 2009]. I thought that he deserved congratulations. He’s the better man, but as far as Bradley, whoever he’s working out with, they have to make a lot of changes because he’s lifting too many weights. I think he’s more worried about how he looks when he get on the scale instead of how he performs inside that ring.

“I thought that Bradley went out there and fought his heart out, but I think he was pulling a lot of shots like an amateur. I think he was making a lot of mistakes and he was very fatigued early on. I think that he was making a lot of mistakes, falling off balance and fighting like an amateur. I think both fighters fought like amateurs.

“I thought Pacquiao fought like an amateur also, and I wasn’t pleased with his performance, but he got the victory the best way he knows how, but I wasn’t pleased with his performance and I’m seeing something totally different in Pacquiao.”

While Mayweather didn’t say it in so many words, it seemed he was alluding to alleged performance-enhancing drug use that has dogged Pacquiao for a few years, despite a lack of evidence.

“I don’t see the same pop in Pacquiao’s shots. Once again, I’m not saying this guy is doing anything, but I don’t see the same snap in his shots,” Mayweather said. “He’s getting tired when he wasn’t getting tired before. I’m seeing something totally different whereas me, I’m still sharp, I’m still smart, I’m not getting fatigued. I wasn’t getting fatigued from the beginning, and those are the things that I see. I don’t know if you guys see it, but that’s what I see.”

Pacquiao talks Bradley-Marquez

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8

Manny Pacquiao has faced Juan Manuel Marquez in four memorable battles, going 2-1-1, including a shocking one-punch knockout loss in fight No. 4 in December 2012.

Pacquiao has also faced Timothy Bradley once, losing a massively controversial split decision in June 2012.

After facing Pacquiao, Bradley outboxed Marquez two fights later, in October, to defend the title he claimed against Pacquiao.

Now Pacquiao is set to go back into the ring to face Bradley in a rematch on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. So is there anything Pacquiao might have picked up about Bradley watching him face Marquez, his greatest rival?

Not exactly.

That’s because Pacquiao said he did not watch the fight (if you believe him). Pacquiao did, however, say that Bradley’s decision win did not surprise him.

“That is what I had predicted,” Pacquiao said. “Bradley obviously fought the better fight and boxed Marquez. I assume Marquez just could not overcome Bradley's skills and youth and there was no way Bradley was going to go toe-to-toe after his battle with Ruslan Provodnikov.”

In the fight after facing Pacquiao, Bradley slugged it out with Provodnikov in the 2013 fight of the year, a battle in which Bradley was knocked down, badly hurt multiple times and concussed. He said he fought Provodnikov toe to toe by design. Then he returned to a boxing style against Marquez.

So which Bradley will show up against Pacquiao? Pacquiao said he expects Bradley fight him the way he did Marquez, rather than try to slug with him like he did against Provodnikov. Pacquiao has far better power than Bradley.

"I do not think Bradley will fight toe-to-toe with me, either, so I will have to hunt him down,” Pacquiao said. “I am prepared for that. I am not going for a knockout but if the opportunity presents itself, I am going to go for it this time. Bradley's talk that I am no longer hungry has inspired me throughout this training camp. As [trainer] Freddie Roach keeps saying every day in training, ‘No mercy.’”

Roach has watched Bradley’s performance against Marquez and perhaps gleaned something from it, especially since he is also so familiar with Marquez’s style.

“For his fights he does what he is supposed to do,” Roach said of Bradley. “He boxed well against Marquez and he beat a good fighter. What he will bring to the table against Manny is what he brought against Marquez. He likes to exchange a little bit also, so when we get into an exchange we will have to take advantage of that moment.”

Orlando Cruz returns April 19

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
Featherweight Orlando Cruz got a tremendous amount of attention before his last fight but probably won’t get nearly as much in his next one.

Back in October, Cruz, 32, of Puerto Rico, challenged Orlando Salido for a vacant featherweight world title on the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view undercard. In addition to the fight being a title bout, Cruz also got a lot of attention because he had come out as boxing’s first openly gay fighter.

It made him a hero to many and it took a lot of courage for him to come out. Although Salido knocked Cruz out in the seventh round of a one-sided fight, Cruz had made history, even if it wasn’t the kind that got him a title belt.

Now Cruz (20-3-1, 10 KOs) is set for his ring return. He will face Gamalier Rodriguez (23-2-3, 16 KOs), 27, of Puerto Rico, in a much lower profile 10-rounder on April 19 (UniMas) at the Bahia Shriners Event Center in Orlando, Fla., Top Rank and All-Star Boxing announced on Monday.

"I want to thank Top Rank and All-Star Boxing for this opportunity to redeem myself by getting me this [regional] title fight with Rodriguez,” Cruz said. “By winning this fight, I will be right back on the verge of another world title opportunity and conquer my dream of being a world champion.”

The co-feature will showcase 20-year-old blue chip lightweight prospect and 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian Felix Verdejo (11-0, 8 KOs) in a scheduled six-round bout.

Kimmel reunion set for PacMan

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
Pacquiao/KimmelRandy Holmes ABC/Getty ImagesManny Pacquiao is set to make his traditional pre-fight visit on April 2 to "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
Last year, Manny Pacquiao only fought once, his November wipeout of Brandon Rios. But that fight took place in Macau, China and it meant for the first time since 2009 that Pacquiao did not pay his traditional pre-fight visit to Jimmy Kimmel to appear on his late-night talk show.

But the tradition, a hilarious one, is back as Pacquiao gets ready for his rematch with Timothy Bradley Jr. on April 12 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao will appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (ABC, 11:35 p.m. ET) on Wednesday, April 2, along with the other guest that night -- President Bill Clinton.

Talk about political heavyweights. Pacquiao is a current congressman in the Philippines.

The appearance will be Pacquiao's eighth on the program dating to November 2009, when he made his first appearance before facing Miguel Cotto. It was on that episode that Pacquiao sang his version of the sappy 1970s ballad "Sometimes When We Touch." During ensuing appearances, Pacquiao sang duets with Kimmel and Will Ferrell and did a hilarious spoof of HBO's "24/7" with Kimmel sidekick Guillermo.

Clinton, back in the day, once played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall's late-night talk show. No word if there's a Pacquiao-Clinton performance coming.

Alvarado: 'I’m a Marquez fan'

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26

Forgive former junior welterweight titlist Mike Alvarado if he was perhaps a little bit in awe Wednesday when he came face to face with Mexican star and former four-division titleholder Juan Manuel Marquez at the news conference to kick off the promotion for their welterweight title elimination fight.

They meet in an HBO-televised main event at the newly refurbished Forum in Inglewood, Calif., May 17 in a fight that will produce the mandatory challenger for the April 12 rematch between titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Marquez-Alvarado will be the first card at the Forum, which used to be a boxing hotbed and where Marquez came up as a young prospect almost 20 years ago, since it was recently renovated.

Alvarado was -- is -- a big Marquez fan. He looked up to him when he was a young fighter, loved watching his fights and hoped one day to come close to matching his achievements.

“When I first started fighting I was watching Marquez fight and looking up to him,” Alvarado told ESPN.com. “He’s one of the best. He’s a Mexican boxing legend. It’s awesome, a real-life dream come true for me to fight someone like this. I looked up to Marquez and have all the respect in the world for him.”

So while Wednesday’s news conference was a day for Alvarado to revel in the fact that he will face a future Hall of Famer, make a big payday and qualify to fight an even bigger fight for another world title if he wins, the seriousness of his May 17 task was not entirely lost on him.

“I’m a Marquez fan but I still have to do what I have to do,” Alvarado said. “It’s amazing and kinda shocking and hasn’t hit me yet that I’m fighting him. It’s still kinda like, ‘Hey, I’m fighting Marquez,’ and that’s cool. But it’s sinking in. I am pushing myself. I know I’m gonna have to dig deep to redeem myself.”

Alvarado said he views this fight as redemption for his last fight, when he and Ruslan Provodnikov put on a tremendous slugfest, but Provodnikov dropped Alvarado twice and forced him to retire on his stool after the 10th round.

[+] EnlargeRuslan Provodnikov and Mike Alvarado
Chris Farina/Top RankMike Alvarado, right, lost his title in a tough battle with Ruslan Provodnikov last October.
Alvarado lost his world title and, to make matters worse, it happened in front of his hometown fans in suburban Denver.

“It was really tough,” Alvarado said. “I was mentally beating myself up for the next couple of weeks after the fight. I have to get back to where I need to be. I had to bring the old Mike back, bring back the basics that made me who I am. Not changing things up. I know that ring.

“I went home and hung out, and iced my eyeball. I was hard-timing it. It sucks. It was my hometown. I have a lot of great supporters. Everyone was happy to see a good show like that, but it hurt. I watched [a video of the fight] eventually. I’d be watching and saying, ‘Why’d I let that happen? How’d that happen.’ I wasn’t at the top condition I should have been or I could have been. I wasn’t going after it. I guess there were a lot of distractions fighting at home. I will be more secluded for this fight.”

Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) knows Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs), as great as he has been, is 40 now and also coming off a loss, a decision challenging Bradley for his belt in October. As he has done after many of his recent fights, Marquez once again talked about possible retirement before agreeing to fight Alvarado.

Alvarado, although a confessed Marquez fan, would love to be the one to send him into retirement for real.

“I don’t know his plans after this fight, if he plans on retiring or what, but it could be huge for me,” Alvarado said. “I could redeem myself and retire a boxing legend. That would be the best way to redeem myself. I’m so motivated for what I have to do.

“I think he’s on his way out, so this is kind of like a farewell. He seems like he’s ready to go. He already made a mark in this boxing game and doesn’t have much to prove. He don’t have to prove anything. He built his legacy and he’s 40. It’s time to retire. This is awesome -- me knowing I can be the man to retire him.”
Manny Pacquiao spent the first few weeks of his training camp in the Philippines preparing for his April 12 rematch with welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Last week, Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach returned to Roach's Wild Card Gym for the final weeks of camp.

Not surprisingly, Roach said he likes what he has seen so far. Of course, what trainer has ever said his fighter was having a terrible training camp?

So let's see what the Hall of Fame trainer had to say.

"Manny started the week a little slow due to jetlag but finished off strong on Saturday," Roach said. "He was just brilliant in his sparring on Saturday. His footwork was effortless, his hand speed was blazing and his power is as good as it has ever been.

"We are training for big game in this fight. Manny knows he is going to have to hunt Bradley down and close the show this time. The first fight with Bradley was so easy for Manny that after six rounds he just took it easy on him. Not this time."

When they first met in June 2012, Pacquiao looked as though he had cruised to a lopsided and easy unanimous decision. Then the judges shocked the world with two of them awarding Bradley the controversial split decision -- one of the worst decisions in boxing history.

Now, the two fighters are doing it again, and Roach expects Pacquiao to step on the gas this time.

"Our Mantra is 'Close the show. No mercy.' You don't have to be a groundhog to know that Bradley's days as welterweight champ are numbered," Roach said. "It's last call for Bradley on April 12.

"Manny is really motivated for this fight. We decided no matter how many fights we have remaining, we are determined to run the table and win every one. And when it is over, it is going to be as world champion. And that can only happen with a total and absolute victory over Bradley."

Roach also went after Bradley, who claimed he hurt both of his feet during the fight and showed up at his postfight news conference in a wheelchair.

"Bradley says he fought Manny last time with two bad feet. I don't remember him coming into the ring in a wheelchair," Roach said. "He hurt his feet when Manny connected his power punches on him. Manny hit Bradley so hard it broke his ankles.

"For Bradley to say, 'Manny doesn't have the hunger anymore and it's never coming back' and 'Manny no longer has his killer instinct,' that tells me that Bradley is still suffering from the concussion [Ruslan] Provodnikov laid on him."

Last March, in his first fight after the fight with Pacquiao, Bradley barely survived to win a decision against Provodnikov in the 2013 fight of the year. In his next fight, Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) outpointed Juan Manuel Marquez in October.

In Pacquiao's first fight following the Bradley controversy, Marquez knocked Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) out in the sixth round in December 2012 in that year's fight of the year. Pacquiao took nearly a year off before returning to rout Brandon Rios in a near-shutout decision in November in Macau.

Legends meet: Pacquiao, Dylan

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
Bob Dylan, Manny PacquiaoChris Farina/Top RankMusic icon Bob Dylan visited Manny Pacquiao at the Wild Card Boxing Club.

Music legend Bob Dylan once wrote an entire song, “Hurricane,” about the plight of middleweight Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.

On Thursday, Dylan -- who is a boxing fan -- wasn’t singing about a boxer but rather was in Los Angeles in attendance at trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood to watch the great Manny Pacquiao train.

They took time out to take a photo together and chat. Dylan, who used to train in a boxing gym, told Pacquiao how much he admired him, and Manny told Dylan how humbled he was that he had taken time out to come watch him train.

Pacquiao is getting ready for his rematch with welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. -- who got a gift decision in their controversial first fight -- on April 12 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao began the American phase of his camp Monday after doing the first portion of his training in the Philippines.

Pacquiao in L.A. for next phase

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
The Pacman has landed.

Manny Pacquiao, on a quest to regain his welterweight title when he meets Timothy Bradley Jr. in a rematch, arrived in Los Angeles from the Philippines on Saturday night -- via Philippine Airlines Flight 102 -- for the second part of his training camp.

Pacquiao, as the world knows, got ripped off badly in a massively controversial split decision to Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) in June 2012. The rematch is April 12 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, same site as the first debacle.

Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) arrived in Los Angeles with trainer Freddie Roach and the rest of the team after training for the past several weeks in the Philippines. Pacquiao will finish his training camp at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif.

"We had a great camp in the Philippines and Manny, as usual, is way ahead of schedule in his conditioning and very motivated," Roach said upon their arrival. “The real business begins for us on Monday at Wild Card. We have great sparring waiting for Manny. He wants that title back. If Bradley thinks he's going to see the same compassionate Manny he saw the first time they fought he is in for a very big surprise."

Pacquiao tweeted upon his arrival: “I am so happy to be back in LA training w/ Freddie Roach at Wild Card. I have really missed it.”
Novak Djokovic, Kevin Spacey, Will Ferrell, Timothy Bradley Jr. and Stanislas Wawrinka Chris Farina/Top RankNovak Djokovic, Kevin Spacey, Will Ferrell, Timothy Bradley Jr. and Stanislas Wawrinka

Actor Will Ferrell got into the charity and boxing spirit on Tuesday with the help of welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr.

The Hollywood star held a charity auction at the 10th annual Desert Smash tennis tournament at La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, Calif. The auction benefits Cancer for College, which has been providing hope and inspiration to cancer survivors by providing college scholarships since 1993.

Bradley, who is from Palm Springs, took some time out of his training schedule to attend the event and, along with star tennis players Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka and actor Kevin Spacey, assisted in auctioning off a pair of ringside tickets to his April 12 rematch with Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Winner of the ticket auction? Ferrell, who bid $24,000 for the two tickets to attend the fight.

Pacquiao opponent coming soon

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
Manny PacquiaoChris Farina/Top RankManny Pacquiao's next opponent on April 12 will likely be Timothy Bradley Jr. or Ruslan Provodnikov.
We already know that former eight-division titleholder Manny Pacquiao is scheduled to fight on April 12 and headline an HBO PPV card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. What we don't know is who exactly the Filipino congressman will be swapping punches with.

The next step in that process comes Saturday when Top Rank promoter Bob Arum meets at his Los Angeles home with Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz.

"We are down to business now," Arum told ESPN.com on Friday. "Michael is coming over to my house and there will certainly be progress made on Manny's next fight. Then I need some time to finalize a deal with the opponent. I think we will select the opponent [on Saturday] and then I will go close a deal with that guy."

In the running are welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., who owns a massively controversial split-decision win against Pacquiao in June 2012, and newly crowned junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, who used to be one of Pacquiao's sparring partners.

If Provodnikov, who lost a decision to Bradley in the 2013 fight of the year and then stopped Mike Alvarado in October to win a 140-pound title, gets the fight, he will be looking for a new trainer because he and Pacquiao share Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, and it's inconceivable that Roach would go with Provodnikov over Pacquiao.

Arum said there have already been conversations with the Bradley and Provodnikov camps about a potential fight with Pacquiao.

One man who isn't in the running to face the PacMan, according to Arum, is Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao's great rival. They have fought four times in memorable battles, including Marquez's lone victory, a resounding knockout in their last fight in December 2012. While Pacquiao is interested in a fifth fight, Marquez is not.

"Marquez has put himself out of the running because he doesn't want the fight," Arum said. "He hasn't priced himself out of the fight, he's just not interested at any price. What he's saying for him, it makes a lot of sense. He's like, 'How can I do any better against Pacquiao than knocking him out?'"

Arum said Marquez plans to fight again and would like a rematch with Bradley, who outpointed him in October. But with Bradley very likely to get another fight with Pacquiao, Marquez would have to find another dance partner.

"Marquez is gonna fight but that's my partner Fernando Beltran's job, to pin him down on what he wants to do. But Marquez will probably fight late in the spring," Arum said. "The guy he wants to fight is Bradley again, but Bradley would rather fight Manny."

Arum said Koncz was with Pacquiao in the Philippines over the holidays and returned to the United States after New Year's in order to meet with Arum on Saturday.

Pacquiao rebounded from the knockout to Marquez by rolling to a virtual shutout decision against Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 in Macau, China.

Pacquaio talks Bradley-Marquez

October, 24, 2013
Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley Jr. Chris Farina/Top RankManny Pacquiao suffered defeats to both Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley Jr. in 2012.
Officially, Manny Pacquiao's last two fights are losses to Timothy Bradley Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Bradley was given a split decision win -- and a welterweight title -- against Pacquiao in June 2012 in one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history. There was no debate about Marquez's win over Pacquiao in December. That came by brutal one-punch knockout at the end of the sixth round in the fourth fight of their epic series, which Pacquiao still leads 2-1-1.

Pacquiao is in the Philippines training for his return against Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) in Macau, China, and he weighed in Thursday on Bradley's split-decision win against Marquez to retain the title on Oct. 12 in Las Vegas.

"I did not watch the fight with Marquez and Bradley, but I was happy. I had already predicted that Bradley would win the fight, so I'm not surprised at what happened in the fight," Pacquiao said during a teleconference with boxing media.

Depending on how things go for Pacquiao against Rios, a former lightweight titlist, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Pacquiao could face Bradley in a rematch or Marquez in a fifth fight next year. A Pacquiao-Marquez fifth fight would undoubtedly stoke a lot of public interest, despite Marquez's close loss to Bradley.

Bradley and Marquez were both offered a chance to fight Pacquiao in November, but declined, opting instead to fight each other for less money. Bradley didn't want to go to China and wanted to move on for the time being from the controversy over his decision against Pacquiao while Marquez wanted a chance to win a welterweight title so he could become the first Mexican fighter to win world titles in five weight divisions.

Purses for Bradley-Marquez card

October, 11, 2013
LAS VEGAS -- The bout agreements have been filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez card on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Here’s a look at what the fighters on the pay-per-view telecast will earn, according to commission executive director Keith Kizer:

• Marquez, the star of the show, will receive a purse of $4 million to challenge Bradley for his welterweight title. However, Marquez’s overall guaranteed minimum is $6 million. He’ll get $4 million on the night of the fight with the other $2 million coming from other sources of revenue, including Mexican television rights. Bradley will earn $4.1 million for his second title defense. His career-high purse was the $5 million he made to face Manny Pacquiao in June 2012. Bradley and Marquez can also earn more based on how well the pay-per-view sells.

• Former featherweight titleholder Orlando Salido will earn $100,000 to challenge Orlando Cruz for a vacant world title. Cruz will make $65,000.

• Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine is getting $100,000 for his pro debut, and his opponent, Jose Luis Ramirez, is getting $25,000.

• For the opening bout of the broadcast, light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan is making $60,000 and Anthony Caputo-Smith will get $20,000.

Marquez, Bradley leave Pacquiao behind

October, 9, 2013

Manny Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division world champion and one of boxing’s biggest stars, has officially lost his last two fights.

First came the ultra-controversial split decision against Timothy Bradley Jr. in June 2012, which cost Pacquiao his welterweight world title. There was no such controversy in December as Juan Manuel Marquez, seemingly on the verge of being stopped, unleashed a monstrous overhand right that Pacquiao never saw as the sixth round was ending and knocked him out cold, the first definitive result in their epic series, which Pacquiao still leads 2-1-1.

When it came time for Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to put together Pacquiao’s next fight, which will take place in Macau, China, on Nov. 23, he naturally looked to Bradley and Marquez as the top candidates for the fight and made offers to both.

The controversy over Pacquiao’s first fight with Bradley certainly would generate huge publicity for another pay-per-view fight. Marquez and Pacquiao already had four great fights, and given the way the fourth one ended, there was a lot of interest -- meaning another pay-per-view bonanza -- in a fifth fight.

Amazingly, Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) and Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) both turned down the opportunity to face Pacquiao again, turning their backs on career-high purses in the process. Instead, Pacquiao will face former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios while Bradley will defend his welterweight title for the second time when he faces Marquez on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

But in a sport in which money is usually the No. 1 consideration for any deal, why, oh why, would Bradley and Marquez turn down a chance to fight Pacquiao again and instead face each other, in what will still be a terrific match, but not nearly as high-profile had Pacquiao been on the other side of the ring?

“Money isn’t everything,” Arum said in a shocking comment. “These guys aren’t fighting on Oct. 12 for peanuts. The purses they are getting are substantial and legacy is important for both Timothy and Juan Manuel Marquez. Timothy wants Marquez ... And Marquez wants to be the first Mexican to win five world titles in five weight divisions. Both of them indicated to me that Pacquiao could wait.”

Marquez is guaranteed $6 million while Bradley will earn a minimum $4.1 million, both of which are smaller purses than they would have made against Pacquiao.

Marquez just was not interested in going back to the well yet again, especially after the way he drilled Pacquiao in December in one of the most memorable knockouts of modern times.

“To me it didn’t make sense,” Marquez said. “There was no sense in doing a fifth fight. We had the definite answer on who was the best that night and we had three other close fights. I don’t see why we need to do another fight.

“It was a definite ending to our rivalry. If it would have been a close fight or controversial, I would be doing a fifth fight right now. It doesn’t make sense to do it now.”

As Arum said, claiming Bradley’s belt to become the first Mexican to win a world title in five weight classes is also a big reason why Marquez opted to fight Bradley instead of Pacquiao again. Marquez has already won titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140.

Bradley’s reasons for declining another Pacquiao payday are different from Marquez’s, but it didn’t stop him from making the surprising decision.

“One, going to China was a reason and, two, the money was not out of this world,” Bradley said. “Marquez is 40 and on his way out and I wanted to get a shot at him. I tried three years ago to get a crack at him -- to beat him -- and I wanted to fight him before he left the game. This is my opportunity to do that. Coming off the [Ruslan] Provodnikov fight [in March], it was a hard fight, it was a great fight and it did do some adjusting to where I fit in boxing.

“I figured let’s keep going towards the light and let’s face a new challenge in Marquez before he gets out, and beat him. Then maybe we can go back and revisit the dark side in Manny Pacquiao. I felt I wasn’t ready to do it again. After the Provodnikov fight I was in darkness. Then I came to the light and I want to stay in the light. I want to shine and I can do that by having two guys on my resume who are by far the best fighters in the world, Hall of Famers, and if I could beat both of these guys, I would be considered one of the best.”

Lomachenko seeks title in 2nd bout

September, 4, 2013
Two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko is serious about moving quickly in his pro career, so quickly that if he wins his professional debut, he likely will challenge for a world title in his second fight.

You read that correctly.

The 25-year-old will make his pro debut in a real fight, taking on seasoned veteran Jose Ramirez (25-3, 15 KOs) of Mexico in a 10-round featherweight bout Oct. 12 (HBO PPV) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez card.

Lomachenko was originally scheduled to face Jonathan Oquendo (23-3, 16 KOs) of Puerto Rico, but Oquendo withdrew, claiming a hand injury.

“Well, he couldn't have done it signing the contract,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said jokingly. “Ramirez is maybe a better fight.”

Ramirez is coming off a strong 12-round split decision against longtime contender Rey Bautista in Bautista’s native Philippines in April in a fight in which they were both knocked down.

If a 10-rounder against a real opponent in Lomachenko’s pro debut isn’t audacious enough, how about the game plan if he wins?

Should Lomachenko -- the 2008 Olympic featherweight gold medalist, 2012 lightweight gold-medal winner, and a two-time world amateur champion -- win, he likely will challenge for a featherweight world title in early 2014.

The target date is on a Jan. 25 HBO card at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York against the winner between former titleholder Orlando Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs) of Mexico and Puerto Rico’s Orlando Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KOs), who meet for a vacant featherweight world title on the same Oct. 12 card as Lomachenko-Ramirez.

The possible headliner of the Jan. 25 card could be lightweight contender Terence Crawford in a mandatory challenge of the winner of Saturday’s fight between titleholder Ricky Burns and Raymundo Beltran.

One of the reasons Lomachenko signed with promoter Top Rank was because it promised it would meet his condition to be in a world title fight almost immediately, and also because Top Rank could deliver such a fight.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN.com that he already has talked about the title fight against Lomachenko with the camps of both Salido and Cruz, and both are excited about the prospect.

“They know that if they win the title, they can get their biggest payday with Lomachenko,” Arum said. “Why wouldn’t they want that? They’d be fighting a guy who has never been in a 12-round fight and who knows how this guy does? Lomachenko is extremely talented but he’s the kind of kid who is very full of himself and has a tremendous degree of confidence in himself. This guy is special. How special remains to be seen.”

Arum also signed Japan's Ryota Murat, the 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medalist, and attended his pro debut last month in Tokyo. Murata, who beat No. 1 pro Japanese middleweight Akio Shibata by second-round knockout, also wants to move quickly.

“For me, what Lomachenko and Murata are doing is contrary completely to the normal way we build fighters at Top Rank,” said Arum, whose matchmakers are known as the best in the business for the way they methodically build champions and stars. “But maybe these aren’t normal times and these are not normal athletes.

“It’s one thing if we made the suggestion or we persuaded them into being moved fast. Maybe then I’d say did we do the right thing. But this is what they wanted. This is what Lomachenko wants. He wanted to fight for a world title in his first fight, but we told him that couldn’t be done. So we’ll do it in the second fight.”

One hurdle to Lomachenko fighting for a world title in his second fight was cleared at the recently concluded WBO annual convention, where Lomachenko was approved to fight for one of the organization’s regional belts in his debut, meaning Lomachenko would qualify to fight for a world title if he wins.

If the January title shot doesn’t come off, Arum said an alternative plan could be for him to stage a show in Macau in February called “Night of Gold,” on which he would feature three of the 2012 Olympic gold medalists he signed: Chinese flyweight Zou Shiming in a 10-rounder, Lomachenko in a world title fight, and Murata in a 10-rounder.

Abregu has surgery on right hand

August, 27, 2013
Welterweight contender Luis Carlos Abregu, who was under consideration for one of the televised slots on the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios HBO PPV card on Nov. 23 in Macau, China, will instead be resting his injured right hand.

Abregu, 29, of Argentina, will be out of action for the rest of the year after recent surgery on the damaged hand, his matchmaker, Sean Gibbons, told ESPN.com.

“His hand has been bothering him, so he had surgery and is out for the year,” Gibbons said.

Abregu's manager, Pablo Martinez, said the fighter should be ready to go in January, according to Gibbons.

Abregu, whose only loss was by decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. in 2010, scored a seventh-round knockout of top prospect Thomas Dulorme in October.

Abregu (35-1, 28 KOs) injured his hand in his next fight, a 10-round decision against Antonin Decarie on April 27 in Argentina on the undercard of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez’s homecoming fight against Martin Murray.

“That hand has been bothering him since the fight with [Decarie] in April,” Gibbons said.