- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and Mexican star Juan Manuel Marquez -- best known for their fights against Manny Pacquiao -- could have accepted offers to fight the Filipino icon again. However, both turned down Pacquiao and instead will face each other.
The deal for their bout has been set since late April, but on Thursday the fighters came face to face at a news conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., to formally announce their showdown on Oct. 12 (HBO PPV) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
"We both beat Pacquiao, and now we are going to get this settled between Bradley and myself," Marquez said. "Bradley is good fighter. He fights to win. I know what we are both in for on Oct. 12."
Marquez has had four epic fights with Pacquiao, culminating in December when Marquez stunningly knocked out Pacquiao with one crushing right hand at the end of the sixth round. It was the consensus fight of the year and the big shot seen as the knockout of the year. It gave Marquez his first victory against his great rival, although Pacquiao still leads their series 2-1-1. Because of the drama, many thought there would be a fifth fight. But Marquez, satisfied with his resounding victory, opted to go in another direction.
What he wants is the welterweight title Bradley claimed against Pacquiao last June in a massively controversial split decision.
"Bradley likes to fight. I like to fight. He has something I want, a title belt," said Marquez, a four-division champion. "Winning my fifth world title means very much to me and all of the fans in Mexico.
"This is a very tough fight. I am facing an undefeated fighter who has something that I want very much. It is a complicated fight but not impossible to win. I want that fifth world title. Bradley is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I think we have the styles to make a great fight."
Marquez has won world titles at featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight. If he beats Bradley, a former unified junior welterweight titlist from Palm Springs, Calif., to win a welterweight title, he will become the first Mexican fighter to win world titles in five weight classes.
"I want this fight more than he does," Marquez said of Bradley. "I want to make history. All of the fans in the arena on Oct. 12 will be on my side."
"This fight will be a very exciting confrontation between the two best fighters in the world today," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. "Timothy Bradley, the undefeated, reigning world welterweight champion, has always distinguished himself in the ring. Juan Manuel Marquez is the most popular fighter in Mexico and is coming off a sensational win over Manny Pacquiao. Marquez will try with all of his might to win his historic fifth world championship."
Like Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs), Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) also could have accepted an offer to face Pacquiao again, but he elected to go for Marquez rather than try to set the record straight against the Filipino, who almost everyone thought clearly defeated Bradley. The fight was so controversial that it resulted in an investigation of the judges and even made its way to the floor of the U.S. Senate, where Sen. John McCain talked about it in remarks regarding boxing reform legislation that he planned to introduce.
"I am the one who picked Marquez to fight. He is a legend, the No. 1 fighter in Mexico, and beating him will add to my boxing legacy," Bradley said. "No matter what people may think, I did beat Pacquiao. I have his belt. Marquez wants that belt. He's doing it to make history, so I know what this fight is all about.
"I have speed, quickness and I am the younger fighter (29 to 39). All of that will be the key weapons to beating Marquez, which I will do on Oct. 12."
While Marquez is coming off the 2012 fight of the year, Bradley is coming off one of the leaders for the 2013 award. He defended his 147-pound title against Ruslan Provodnikov of Russia on March 16 in Carson, Calif., in a hellacious fight. Bradley was nearly knocked out in the first and second rounds and got knocked down in the waning seconds of the all-action slugfest but survived to win a tight unanimous decision.
"I was never hit harder than in my last fight against Ruslan -- hit so hard, I lost track of the rounds," said Bradley, who believed he suffered a concussion in the fight. "But I had the heart and determination to fight right to the end, and I got that win. Marquez knows what I am all about. It's going to be a real mess in the ring when he and I get into the ring.
"It will be an honor to step in the ring with Marquez. I am looking forward to displaying my skills and giving the fans a competitive fight. I know that the one thing he and I will have in common, stepping into that ring, is that we're both warriors. Neither one of us will take defeat as an option and, with that being said, we can say the countdown has officially begun."
Timothy Bradley Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez -- best known for their fights against Manny Pacquiao -- could have accepted offers to fight the Filipino icon again. However, both turned Pacquiao down and instead they will face each other.