|ESPN.com: Boxing||[Print without images]|
Dan Rafael's analysis
Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez: Their first two sensational fights could have gone either way, a draw at featherweight and a one-point split decision for Pacquiao at junior lightweight. That was then. This is now. Since the 2008 rematch, Pacquiao has advanced through the weight divisions to become a powerful welterweight, while Marquez failed miserably in his only 147-pound fight, getting wiped out by Floyd Mayweather Jr. It won't be any easier against Pacquiao. He's faster, six years younger and more powerful than Marquez. Despite their two close bouts, the fact that this fight is in a division Pacquiao has dominated in recent years, and the fact that he has developed a strong right hand, spells doom for Marquez. Pacquiao dropped Marquez four times as a one-handed lefty. Now, as a more well-rounded two-fisted puncher who is bigger and stronger, Pacquiao -- who is highly motivated to score a non-controversial win -- should deliver a knockout and the most decisive outcome of their rivalry.
Timothy Bradley Jr.-Joel Casamayor: Bradley, a possible future Pacquiao opponent, is getting a showcase against a southpaw (Pacquiao is left-handed). But Bradley-Casamayor is a terrible fight on paper because it's a bad style matchup. Given the fighters' histories, there may be more head-butts landed than solid punches. Casamayor is 40 and shot. He hasn't looked good in at least his past six fights, dating to a 2007 gift decision he got against Jose Armando Santa Cruz. Casamayor was shaky in a win against Michael Katsidis, suffered a clean knockout loss to Marquez, lost a lopsided decision to Robert Guerrero and struggled in a split-decision win against journeyman Manuel Leyva in March. Simply, this fight matches a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter against a former pound-for-pounder with nothing left but his name. At 28, Bradley is in his prime and should roll to a decision victory in a junior welterweight title defense.
Mike Alvarado-Breidis Prescott: This is an interesting fight, one designed to determine whether Alvarado can assert himself as a junior welterweight contender. He is 31-0 (with 21 KOs) but stepping up to face his most notable opponent. Prescott made his name off a shocking first-round knockout of Amir Khan in 2008, but hasn't done much of note since. Still, he is coming off a close decision loss to Paul McCloskey in September and should provide Alvarado with a good test. In the end, I think Alvarado, who is a more physical fighter than Prescott, will pass the test on his way to a decision win, or maybe even a late knockout.
Kieran Mulvaney's analysis
Pacquiao-Marquez: For a few rounds, this could be a closer and more interesting fight than a lot of people expect. I can see Marquez getting Pacquiao's attention early with right hands, for instance. But the speed and power of Pacquiao's punches will catch up to the Mexican; somewhere around the sixth, a blistering punch will put Marquez down, and if he gets up, a blistering fusillade will stop him for good.
Bradley-Casamayor: Particularly at this weight (junior welterweight) and at his age, Casamayor has nothing to deter Bradley, except perhaps some occasionally ugly tactics. At the same time, I don't know if Bradley has the firepower to put the cagey Cuban away. So expect 12 rarely exciting and increasingly one-sided rounds as Bradley wins a clear decision.
Alvarado-Prescott: Prescott has done little worth mentioning since his shock win over Khan. But he is durable, and he can punch -- he has dropped his foe even in losing efforts. He may shock Alvarado with an early knockdown, and the first half may be close, but Alvarado's class should tell over the second half as the American secures a decision win.
Michael Woods' analysis
Pacquiao-Marquez: Maybe HBO's "24/7" has you thinking that Marquez, so buff and apparently still in possession of enough hand speed to confound Pacquiao with his counterpunching, might spring an upset Saturday night in Las Vegas. Liev Schrieber's voice and the network's rich imagery can do that to you. Don't be fooled: I give Marquez about a 15 percent chance at handling Manny. But I'm not of the mind that Pacquiao's age edge or the fact that he is better suited for the 144-pounds-or-less weight class this fight is signed for mean the Filipino congressman will rule every round against the Mexican future Hall of Famer. There will be tight rounds, because Marquez has Manny's number -- to an extent. But Manny will get that stoppage that trainer Freddie Roach seeks, becoming the first man to finish JMM inside the distance. I expect it to come in Round 9.
Bradley-Casamayor: There is a blueprint in play for Bradley's career, and it does not call for the 40-year-old Casamayor, a cagey but overly grizzled Cuban vet, to wreck the plans promoter Bob Arum has for Bradley. The Californian is a freak of stamina, and his volume and in-your-face style has brought him to 27-0 and a spot in the Pacquiao lottery. His lack of pop (just 11 KOs) is somewhat mitigated by his hard noggin, which often manages to bump itself into his foe's face. Prediction: This one is halted inside the distance when a Bradley butt slices open the 38-5-1 southpaw Casamayor's facial parchment. Bradley gets the UD when they go to the cards.
Alvarado-Prescott: Alvarado, 30, likes to start fast and try to end it early, almost as if he's making up for lost time. And maybe he is. A wayward path beckoned the 31-0 Coloradan, who did two jail stints in the past couple of years (the last finishing in November 2010), stemming from domestic violence and driving-related offenses. But word is he's on the straight and narrow and knows that a world-title crack at junior welter is near. Prescott (24-3) will know if Alvarado, who has power in both hands and keeps his launches compact, had garlic at lunch, let's put it that way. The Colombian-born hitter, who has the flukey KO1 win over Khan in 2008 to his credit, will try to use movement to interrupt Alvarado's flow. I expect that not to work well enough, and for Alvarado to stay undefeated.