LAS VEGAS >> Juan Manuel Marquez chased Manny Pacquiao for three long, frustrating fights, never getting the wins he thought he surely deserved.
When he finally caught Pacquiao with a right hand out of nowhere that left him face-first on the canvas in their fourth fight, Marquez was ready to move on.
“That chapter is closed,” Marquez said. “I had a great victory over a great fighter like Pacquiao and I want to keep that great feeling. That fifth fight, I don’t see why.”
Timothy Bradley also has some history with Pacquiao, and it’s bittersweet. He got a win in a disputed decision, but he never got credit from boxing fans for the win and he paid a price for it in his next fight.
The two meet Saturday night in a scheduled 12-round welterweight title fight, with Pacquiao half a world away. Still, Pacquiao’s shadow looms large even as they get ready for a big payday without him.
“After the Pacquiao fight nobody gave me any respect,” Bradley said. “I had to go out and earn that respect. That’s why I went out in my last fight like I did. I wanted to take him out and I wanted to send a statement to the world.”
Bradley did just that, but he paid a terrible price. Never known for his power punching, he engaged in a brutal brawl with Ruslan Provodnikov last March that was almost scary to watch.
Bradley emerged with a narrow decision win despite being battered early and knocked down in the 12th round. But the punches took such a toll that he went to a neurologist to see what was wrong and ended up spending two months quietly in dark rooms trying to get over the effects of what he believes was a concussion he suffered in the bout.
“Every fighter knows when he enters the ring he may not come out the same — or come out at all,” Bradley said. “I just had to figure it out.”
Bradley weighed in at 146 Friday for the bout, while Marquez was 144.5 pounds.
Bradley and Marquez both turned down offers from promoter Bob Arum to fight Pacquiao again, even though they could have made more money doing it. Both had their reasons and both will still make big paychecks, with Marquez guaranteed $6 million and Bradley $4.1 million for their title fight.
“Money isn’t everything,” Arum said. “The purses they are getting are substantial and legacy is important for both Timothy and Juan Manuel Marquez. Timothy wants Marquez’s scalp on his belt, so to speak. And Marquez wants to be the first Mexican to win five world titles in five weight divisions. Both of them indicated to me that Pacquiao could wait.”
Pacquiao isn’t exactly waiting as he is scheduled to meet Brandon Rios in Macau on Nov. 23. Coming off of successive losses to Bradley and Marquez, though, and both his star power and bargaining power have faded.
Arum is betting that Bradley and Marquez have some star power of their own, and not just because of their fights with Pacquiao. The 40-year-old Marquez, who first won a title at 126 pounds, will be going for a title in his fifth weight class while Bradley will be trying to cement his claim that he is one of the top fighters in the world.
“If I win you can’t deny me the top 3 in the world,” Bradley said. “The people who don’t believe in me I want to make believe in me. I love to be the underdog.”
Bradley (30-0, 12 knockouts) is just that in a pay-per-view card that also features a featherweight title fight between Orlando Cruz, the first openly gay active fighter, and Orlando Salido, and the pro debut of two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko. But he also was the underdog against Pacquiao when he won a disputed decision despite breaking his left foot in the second round, a win that he is still upset he didn’t get more credit for.
Marquez knows something about close decisions with Pacquiao, too, though he never got one from the ringside judges. Marquez lost two close decisions and got a draw in a third fight before he launched the right hand late in the sixth round last December that knocked Pacquiao out cold and took away some of the bitterness he felt over not getting the decisions.
“The money is important in life, but the most important is the honor, the pride,” Marquez said. “Everybody knows what happened in those four fights. I’ll know for all my life. If I’d won the fight with a close decision, give the fifth fight. Sign the contract after the fight. But I won a great victory for me.”