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Bradley beats Marquez, talk turns to Mayweather


I look at most major boxing fights nowadays as a pickup basketball game at the Y.

Who’s Got (Floyd) Next?

Timothy Bradley will say the answer is him today, that he should be next in line to oppose Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the third installment of the latter’s mega six-fight contract with Showtime, that a 31-0 record and the sort of victories he has compiled over the past year are proof enough he is ready for such a moment.

It’s tough to disagree.

It’s even tougher to predict how much Bradley could help, if at all, sell such a fight.

Not that he would need to with Mayweather as an opponent.

Bradley on Saturday night beat four-division world champion Juan Manuel Marquez by split decision at the Thomas &Mack Center, a very good but not great fight that allowed Bradley to retain his WBO welterweight title and speak as to how the outcome might define his legacy.

“That was my ticket to the Boxing Hall of Fame,” Bradley said. “It’s the crowning point of my career so far. (Marquez) is a great fighter. I beat a great champion. He never touched me. I gave him a boxing lesson.

“I’ll fight anyone, including a bull.”

We will leave those big guys to continue playing a significant role in the beef and dairy farming industries, instead focusing on whether Bradley is the best and most deserving fighter to next oppose Mayweather.

Or if it would be Robert Guerrero all over again.

I suppose it’s best to begin with the obvious: Mayweather is the cash cow for Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions and Bradley is backed by Top Rank Promotions.

Think for a second of the bitter feelings between tea party Republicans and leading Democrats.

And times it by 1,000.

But nothing seems to soothe hard feelings in boxing like a ridiculous number of zeroes on a paycheck, and it’s crazy to believe that men who enjoy money and success as much as Mayweather and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum won’t at some point agree on a matchup.

It could be Bradley, or perhaps Manny Pacquiao, also under the Top Rank umbrella. Mayweather would stand to earn more against the latter, no matter that he lost a split-decision fight to Bradley in June 2012 and was knocked out by Marquez in December.

Mayweather-Pacquiao seems far more compelling than Mayweather-Bradley, both in interest and at the box office.

Which doesn’t mean Bradley hasn’t represented himself well. He won a brawl against Ruslan Provodnikov in March, suffered enough brain damage to be shut down for four months and then returned here Saturday to beat a warrior in Marquez.

Who, by the way, doesn’t think he lost.

“I came to win,” Marquez said. “I felt I did win. The judges took it away. You don’t have to knock out the other fighter to win. I did my job. Clearly, I won the fight. I’ve been robbed six times in my career.”

Not this time. The biggest controversy in Las Vegas on Saturday was when the replay official at the UNLV-Hawaii game overturned a late Rebels reception at Sam Boyd Stadium, causing many to wonder why Don Ho came back to life just to watch Mountain West football.

“Timothy fought the gameplan to perfection,” said Joel Diaz, Bradley’s trainer. “I told you that Tim would win if he boxed and didn’t get reckless. There were a few very hard exchanges we were concerned about where I told the guys, ‘Don’t try and knock this guy out. He’s a strong guy.’ Tim, however, did everything we told him to. No one can out-box Timothy Bradley.”

Correction. Mayweather can.

Maybe this gives Bradley the best opportunity to next face the pound-for-pound king: He was awarded a win against Pacquiao that few believed he earned, and while he was active and impressive Saturday, he won an extremely close fight against an opponent whom Mayweather toyed with in 2009 for a unanimous decision win.

This is how dominant Mayweather is — a guy who just might have punched that hall of fame ticket he spoke about in the ring Saturday and at 31-0 could be the best choice and yet have little to no chance at winning.

Who’s Got (Floyd) Next? Bradley? Pacquiao? A bull?

I shouldn’t give Mayweather any ideas with that last option.

I can see the pay-per view dollar signs dancing in his eyes now at the though of fighting the son of Bodacious.

But the interviews would be great.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.