LAS VEGAS -- Timothy Bradley Jr. eked out a split-decision win against Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night to retain a welterweight belt and remain undefeated after 12 skillfully fought and closely contested rounds. Here are five things we learned from Saturday's card.
1. Judges get it right, too
In recent weeks there has been a lot of attention paid to some highly dubious scorecards, and with good reason: From Ricky Burns escaping with a draw against Ray Beltran; to C.J. Ross inexplicably finding six rounds to give Canelo Alvarez against Floyd Mayweather Jr. when most observers couldn't find even one; to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. receiving a very generous benefit of the doubt against Bryan Vera, too many ringside scorers haven't exactly covered themselves in glory lately. So it's a relief when they get it right, as the judges did on Saturday night.
The scores accurately reflected ringside sentiment: The majority of those in media row had a narrow Bradley win, a smaller percentage saw it as a wider Bradley victory and a sizable minority scored the fight for Marquez -- all by about the same margins as those turned in by the judges. The split decision reflected the closeness of the contest, and the fact two of the three cards were for Bradley ensured that the consensus right man won. It was a stark contrast to the previous time Bradley fought in Las Vegas, when he left town with a win over Manny Pacquiao that was widely derided as larcenous. None of which is to suggest that judges should be covered in praise when they do their jobs right. But it's a pleasant relief when controversy over their view of things doesn't cloud out what happened in the ring.
2. For Marquez, it's a familiar story
The vituperative postfight responses of Marquez and trainer Nacho Beristain likely won't win either of them any new fans, but it is possible to agree with the verdict and still acknowledge that Marquez has had more than his fair share of close losses -- most notably the two defeats (and a draw) against Pacquiao that could easily have been wins. The fact they weren't wins doesn't suggest anything nefarious: Those fights, like Saturday night's against Bradley, were all tremendously close, with a round or two either way being the deciding factor. But it does perhaps show that, for all the success that Marquez has scored in his career as a counterpuncher, it is a style of fighting that, in extremely tight contests, doesn't always work in his favor with the judges, who may find themselves casting a ballot for the man who appears to be busier and more aggressive. (Of course, sometimes it means nothing more than that, no matter how close the verdict, he simply lost the fight, whether he thinks he deserved to or not.)
3. Bradley has plenty of choices
Much is made of the depth and breadth of talent that Golden Boy Promotions can boast in the 140- and 147-pound divisions. But Bradley has plenty of options on the Top Rank side of the street, too. A Ruslan Provodnikov win over Mike Alvarado next week might set up a rematch of their barnburner from earlier this year. Conversely, an Alvarado win would also yield a potentially fascinating matchup between two hard-nosed, tough-as-teak boxer-punchers. But Bradley will almost certainly be crossing his fingers for a Pacquiao win against Brandon Rios in November and the subsequent prospect of an opportunity to score a genuine win over the Filipino star to erase the lingering stench of their June encounter.
4. Lomachenko looks like the real deal ...
Vasyl Lomachenko made an impressive start to his professional career (if you discount the World Series of Boxing outings) with a fourth-round stoppage of game Jose Ramirez. Lomachenko showed tremendous poise, smooth footwork and a pair of ripping left-hand body shots that dropped Ramirez in the first and fourth rounds, the second time for good. Yes, there are quibbles to be made and holes to be poked, and he isn't the finished article, but it's easy to see why Top Rank has shown such excitement about his potential.
5. ... But is he ready for Salido?
In the immediate aftermath of his win, Lomachenko was asked about Guillermo Rigondeaux, but Top Rank has been talking up the prospect of his second fight being for a title against the Orlando Salido-Orlando Cruz winner. After seeing Salido beat up and stop Cruz, they may be rethinking that idea. Salido will always be vulnerable to the classiest of opponents, as the likes of Mikey Garcia and Yuriorkis Gamboa have shown, but against Cruz, he demonstrated the same qualities that all but ruined Juan Manuel Lopez: a relentless, aggressive mixture of head and body punching that saps the strength and will of anyone who isn't at the highest level. Lomachenko may be the kind of boxer who can cope with such an onslaught, but the second pro fight of his career might not be the time to find out.