Weekend Afterthoughts On Juan Manuel Marquez Whining, Orlando Cruz’s Matchmaking And More

Juan Manuel Marquez was falling down Saturday, yet from the screen capture he might as well be dancing. Timothy Bradley has earned some plaudits for beating the man on HBO pay-per-view Saturday, yet he stands somewhat alone; it's Marquez who has the richer financial options next. Some of that's just the name of the game — for instance, Marquez is a Mexican veteran whereas Bradley has a less obvious fan base, so Marquez automatically brings more money to the table. Some of it is unfair, and in this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts we'll discuss some of it. (It must be said that our Jeff Pryor already touched on some aspects of the weekend here, and Patrick Connor and his co-host James Foley talked it out with their literal mouths on TQBR Radio, and I reviewed Bradley-Marquez here while Alex McClintock handled the undercard.)

  • Timothy Bradley's standing. Marquez's team isn't interested in a rematch. Pacquiao's team has other priorities. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is with a different promoter than Bradley's, although naturally Sr. is convinced Bradley would get his ass whupped. What's that leave Bradley? Departing Top Rank for a Mayweather fight, perhaps, although there's no guarantee he'd get the bout if he did. Rather, he probably ends up with one of Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado or Ruslan Provodnikov, with Rios only likely if he loses to Pacquiao and the loser of Alvarado-Provodnikov more likely than the winner. That, along with some boos Saturday, is the haul he'll get as a result of getting the best win of his career.  And it's not as if he isn't getting paid well, mind you, because he is, it's just that he has a tendency to be farther back in the line. It's almost like he can't get ahead no matter what he does. He beats Pacquiao (admittedly due to some poor judging), he gets booed. He brawls in a life and death battle with Provodnikov (where only some people thought he lost), he gets booed. He boxes intelligently and beats one of the three best fighters in the world (where almost no one thought he lost), he gets booed. Is it any wonder that when the boos began raining down Saturday he turned to the crowd and asked for more? At what point does Bradley get a devoted fan base, I wonder? Palm Springs, Calif. never turned itself into a rabid hub of pro-Bradley sentiment, so when might American fans and/or African-Americans embrace one of their own, a fighter who happens to be one of the three best or so in the world right now? The two men ahead of him are also black and American, and both have a bigger following, exponentially in the case of Mayweather and significantly in the case of Andre Ward. Bradley's bouts are no longer uniformly ugly foul-filled affairs; I thought he boxed intelligently but also somewhat aggressively against Marquez in a well-fought and reasonably enjoyable main event, although I tend to appreciate that kind of showing more than the more bloodthirsty fan, and while some found the performance boring, doesn't the Provodnikov war earn him any passes whatsoever? I can only speak for myself. Bradley went through a period where he annoyed me (the head butting, turning down the Amir Khan fight, etc.), but I've become a fan.
  • Juan Manuel Marquez's griping. Marquez and his trainer Nacho Beristain were unloading grapes so sour at the post-fight news conference that everyone within a square mile nearly suffered a total facial collapse from the severe puckering effect. Marquez wasn't robbed Saturday and everyone knows it, even the minority who had it a draw or Marquez win. Marquez's bitterness in the face of loss might come from an authentic and even justified place, given how many close decisions have not gone his way (Freddie Norwood, Chris John, the first three Pacquiao bouts). Even in his first fight, a disqualification loss, there were some shady circumstances. So the paranoia is earned. It doesn't make it significantly less insufferable, how sore a loser he is. It's especially true since he's still the bigger attraction coming off a loss than the man who beat him; the system might have worked against Marquez back when, but now he's sitting pretty. And he might retire. If he doesn't retire, and doesn't fight Pacquiao next, it'll stem from yet more sore loser-ness; angry about getting the short end of the stick three times, he has effectively given Pacquiao the "take my ball and go home" treatment already. Pacquiao gave Marquez three rematches. Pacquiao ought to get at least one.
  • Nevada drug testing. Thanks to The Sweet Science's Kelsey McCarson and his interview with Keith Kizer, we know some things about what kind of performance-enhancing drug testing the Nevada State Athletic Commission did for Bradley-Marquez. My read is that they did some good things — using Carbon Isotope Ratio (CIR), for instance. Did they do enough? Well, they apparently didn't use CIR as much as the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association would've. And I would like to have certain things confirmed, like whether a 4:1 testosterone to epitestosterone ratio would've triggered a violation in this fight, as I interpreted it would from my own e-mail exchange a ways back with Kizer. But they also did something VADA wouldn't, a la the biological passports. (And I always thought the use of Jag Exam was a red herring for people to criticize the NSAC testing. Jag Exam was just a collection agency, and one that has been relied on for sample collection by Wal-Mart, Major League Baseball, etc. Sample collection is sample collection, no? Can someone tell me what kind of specialized training you need to collect blood and urine from someone for purposes of detecting doping vs. detecting illicit drug use, and is there any evidence Jag Exam doesn't have the necessary training? What would the problem even conceivably BE? I genuinely want to know.) It was enough for Victor Conte, the former BALCO PED scandal figure who spent months beforehand criticizing NSAC over not using VADA, to suggest right after the bout that the testing had served as an effective deterent. Since Conte has a feud with controversial Marquez strength and conditioning coach Memo Heredia, I'm guessing that if Marquez had won Conte would've taken it as a damnation of the NSAC testing regime. Thanks to McCarson we also know that Heredia has threatened to sue Bradley over his remarks about Memo being a "cheater" and such. Bradley didn't answer a request for comment, according to the story, so we'll have to watch for that response.
  • Vasyl Lomachenko fight planning with Orlando Salido, Guillermo Rigondeaux. It was the worst undercard for a major PPV in a long time, at least off the top of my head, but that doesn't mean it didn't have some things worth talking about. One is this crazy ambitious notion Top Rank has to match Lomachenko in his very second fight with featherweight Orlando Salido, who showed on the same undercard that he had something left in the tank. And if that isn't enough, they're also talking about matching him with junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2014. As impressive as Lomachenko was Saturday, it all sounds like too much too soon for the decorated ex-amateur. But damn if I don't like the spirit. What I consider inadvisable for a fighter and what I consider desirable for me as a fan are two different things. Bring on Lomachenko-Salido, why the hell not? And if he pulls that win off, sure, sure, Rigo, do it.
  • Orlando Cruz matchmaking and gay-bashing. While Cruz showed beforehand that his status as an openly gay male boxer would generate headlines to the point that it overshadowed the main event, I'm still not sure what Top Rank was thinking by putting him in with Salido, who was a clear favorite to win. Cruz is a trailblazer, but that doesn't make him any better at boxing. Basically Top Rank just handed a marketable commodity a sure loss. I must be missing something because Top Rank usually is very good about milking its marketable commodities. And Cruz will retain some marketability, mind you — it's just that the "Cruz wins!" story out of the weekend is a better story for his marketability than "Cruz loses." He might move down to 122, which could conceivably help him if he's more powerful at the lower weight and also give him a chance to argue the problem isn't with his abilities but with his division. As for the trailblazing: Comments on Twitter showed that there's still some significant anti-gay sentiment in the boxing world, not that it was unexpected that he'd get some nasty comments. Mostly he got tons of lame, vaguely homophobic jokes in his direction, also not unexpected. Some were more good-natured than others. And the kind of "'gay' as an insult" talk that is all over the place in boxing reared its head just a handful of days ago with heavyweight Tyson Fury.
  • Tecate boxing card freely giving. It turns out that if you give away tickets to a Jessie Vargas fight, 1,500 fans will show up! Ba-dum-bum. I kid — this was a good promotion by Tecate to buy up some tickets Friday and hand them out, and it can't have hurt Vargas for a couple reasons: 1. It's more exposure for a fighter whose profile hasn't been built up much since switching to Top Rank and 2. He was in a good fight. Vargas beat fellow junior welterweight Ray Narh in a fight that was closer than the scorecards indicated. Vargas' performance suffered in the middle rounds but the knockdown in the closing seconds of the fight was a great punctuation mark.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.