Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Most boxing news conferences follow a similar script.
The fighters, tired of hearing each other talk after months on the promotion trail, become agitated. A shoving match starts, but it’s quickly broken up by handlers before becoming a full-fledged fight.
The press event is dominated by verbal jabs, with each fighter — along with trainers and other handlers — taking turns trying to get under the skin of the opposing camp. It makes for great drama and surely helps promoters in the quest for pay-per-view buys.
But in the final media gathering before Saturday’s WBO welterweight title fight between champion Timothy Bradley and accomplished Mexican competitor Juan Manuel Marquez, there was no trash-talking or physical confrontation.
Rather, the fighters spoke of respect and admiration for each other, calling it a privilege to step into the ring Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Everyone knows me. I don’t like to talk outside the ring,” said Marquez, who has won world titles in four weight divisions in a near 20-year career. “I will talk with my fists on Saturday night.”
Added Bradley trainer Joel Diaz, “It’s an honor to share the ring with them (Marquez trainer Ignacio Beristain). It’s something any trainer dreams of.”
It’s a battle of fighters who defeated previously untouchable Manny Pacquiao in 2012 — Marquez by a sixth-round knockout and Bradley by a controversial decision. This will be Marquez’s first fight since beating Pacquiao in December; Bradley won a 12-round slugfest against Ruslan Provodnikov in March to remain undefeated.
The fighters being cordial with each other isn’t the only rarity with this promotion. Unlike past main events on marquee Las Vegas fight cards, those featuring the likes of Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. as heavy betting favorites, these fighters appear to be evenly matched. Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) is a slim -130 betting favorite at the Wynn race and sports book, meaning gamblers would have to wager $130 to win $100.
Bob Arum, the CEO of Top Rank, which is promoting the fight, considers Bradley and Marquez two first-ballot selections for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Promoters always find ways to make their fight seem more attractive — with this fight, however, Arum didn’t need much help.
“It is a fight that matches two top world-class fighters in an even match,” Arum said. “The odds reflect how close it will be. It involves two equally matched fighters in a main event that will bring dynamite entertainment to boxing fans and sports fans all over the world.”
The only potential for controversy during Wednesday’s news conference was quickly addressed and proved to be no issue. At age 40, the veteran Marquez has come under scrutiny in recent years on suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. After losing to Pacquiao in 2011, Marquez hired Angel “Memo” Heredia as his conditioning coach, emerging for his fourth fight against Pacquiao bulked-up after training with Heredia, who has ties to PEDs.
Marquez passed his post-fight drug test after beating Pacquiao, but that was done with a urine sample and not a more-effective blood test. So, for this fight, Top Rank funded the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s pre-fight testing efforts, in which blood testing was conducted multiple times.
Keith Kizer, the athletic commission’s executive director, said Wednesday that multiple tests on both fighters came back clean. He praised them for being readily available for testing.
“I feel great. Like a fighter with a wire heart,” Marquez said when asked about his age.
Marquez will reportedly make $6 million for the fight; Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) will pocket $4.1 million.
“Credit to Marquez and his team for stepping up and wanting to fight me and being willing to fight me,” Bradley said.