Once again, Las Vegas was kind to Timothy Bradley.
But unlike his split decision over Manny Pacquiao in June 2012 that had promoter Bob Arum demanding that the Nevada attorney general’s office investigate, Saturday’s 12-round split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez at the Thomas &Mack Center didn’t have the same amount of controversy surrounding it.
Yes, there was unhappiness among the pro-Marquez crowd of 13,111. But Bradley (31-0) adjusted nicely and retained his WBO welterweight title.
Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse-Jarman had Bradley winning with scores of 115-113 and 116-112. Glenn Feldman of Connecticut had Marquez winning 115-113.
“That win was my ticket to the Boxing Hall of Fame,” Bradley said. “I beat a great champion. I did everything I was taught to do. I jabbed over and over, and he couldn’t touch me. I gave him a boxing lesson.”
The 40-year-old Marquez, who has been on his share of losing decisions in Las Vegas, namely his two defeats to Pacquiao, had difficulty reconciling this defeat.
“I came to win. I felt that I did win,” Marquez said. “I felt the judges took it away from me. You don’t have to knock the other fighter out to win. I did my job. I thought I clearly won the fight. I’ve been robbed six times in my career.”
Bradley used an effective jab and made a couple of adjustments, mainly improving the distance between himself and Marquez while also picking the spots in which to engage the Mexican superstar.
“Tim followed the game plan perfectly,” said his trainer, Joel Diaz. “The game plan was don’t get reckless. We were concerned about exchanges with Marquez, and he did everything he was told to do. There were two times he got carried away, and I told him to cut it out.”
Bradley, who was a plus-125 betting underdog at the Wynn race and sports book at opening bell, embraced that role. He heard the boos all night and said all he can do is try to win the fans over.
“I always fight for the fans, and I get very little appreciation,” he said.
What he did was use his boxing skills to compete with one of the sport’s best tacticians. He asserted himself beginning in the fifth round and gained momentum as the fight headed toward the latter stages. Marquez had an edge in the Punchstats, which saw him connect an overall higher percentage (34 percent to 30 percent) as well as a higher percentage of power punches (40 percent to 38 percent).
The three judges agreed on just five of the 12 rounds.
On the undercard, Orlando Salido dominated Orlando Cruz, working him over for six rounds before finishing him off in the seventh with a huge combination and scoring a technical knockout to win the vacant WBO featherweight title.
Salido (40-12-2) went to the body effectively and tracked down Cruz (20-3-1) as the Puerto Rican tried to fight moving backward. But Cruz, who was looking to be the first openly gay fighter to win a world title, couldn’t withstand Salido’s attack.
Early in the seventh, Salido had Cruz in the neutral corner and threw a huge right hook to the head followed immediately by a big left uppercut that caught Cruz on his chin. He went down in a heap, and referee Kenny Bayless didn’t bother counting to 10 with the end coming 1:05 into the round.
“This is the biggest moment of my life,” Salido said. “My career has been like a roller coaster. I have had my ups and my downs, and it is so great to be back on top.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.