It's unfortunate when the biggest fight of the weekend turns out to be a bit of a dud but that's what we saw this weekend as Timothy Bradley (31-0-0-1, 12) retained his WBO Welterweight title with a split decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1, 4) in a less than exciting contest.
It was obvious from the opening bell that the two men had genuine respect for each other and this showed in a very nip and took opening round that saw neither man really landing too much of note. If anything Bradley may have stolen the round with his jab but it going the other way wouldn't have been a surprise.
After the slow opening round Bradley seemed to move in to second gear and used his speed to get in and out, landing single shots whilst preventing Marquez from landing a counter. It was in this round that Marquez actually looked 40 years old, though in the following round Marquez did have his successes in a very quiet and very slow round, a round that was fought to Marquez's pace.
Bradley found his feet again in the following round and took rounds 4 and 5 by using his speed and movement to take advantage of Marquez's age and lack of reactions. It wasn't until round 6 that Marquez seemed to begin having any success as he landed several right hands whilst Bradley seemed to take parts of the round off. Bradley's cruise control again seemed to be in action in round, a round in which Bradley was elusive but relatively inactive as Marquez appeared to show a spirited fightback.
Marquez's fight back was ended in round 8 as Bradley switched back on to his boxing and tried to silence a "Marquez" chant that came from the crowd. This was one of the best Bradley rounds and showed that he had an extra gear when he wanted to find it, it was just a shame that he didn't show the same mentality in the previous rounds. Unfortunately Bradley again seemed to turn off in round 9 as Marquez stole the round with a late flurry as he again took the advantage of another round off from Bradley.
It was funny that Bradley seemed to look class when he decided to step up but kept taking rounds off. Amazingly after his dominance in round 8 and then lack of activity in round 9 he managed to actually shake up Marquez in round 10. It looked as if Bradley could actually take Marquez if he decided to keep up an assault though instead seemed to just be happy to shake the Mexican.
With a big tenth round it seemed almost certain that Bradley would turn up for the championship rounds. Instead he was negative and again acted like he was on cruise control giving away round 11 with out any sort of real fight and then giving away the first 2 minutes 45 seconds of the final round before almost sending Marquez to the canvas in the final 10 seconds. Again it seemed like Bradley could have dropped Marquez had he pushed for the knockdown but instead he stepped off and waited for the bell.
Having given away several rounds the bout was closer than it should have been and the judges scorecards showed it with scorecards of 115-113 either way whilst the deciding card favoured Bradley by a score of 116-112.
Bradley should have won by a wide margin though gave Marquez so many rounds than a close decision was his own fault.