Although they never faced each other in the much-requested dream bout, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao have topped most pay-per-view telecasts of the past five years.
Mayweather and Pacquiao helped boxing transition from its previous crossover attraction — Oscar De La Hoya.
Now the sport looks for an evolution of new pay-per-view headliners and having connections to Mayweather and Pacquiao helps.
On Saturday night, common Mayweather and Pacquiao opponent Juan Manuel Marquez will attempt to win a fifth division world when he fights defending welterweight champion Timothy Bradley at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Bradley-Marquez fight will be the first noteworthy pay-per-view event that will not feature Mayweather or Pacquiao since Sergio Martinez fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. , in September of 2012.
“I want to be part of Marquez’s legacy and by me beating Marquez that — right there — will make me one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world,” Bradley said.
Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) captured his second division world title when he won a controversial decision against Pacquiao for the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt in June 2012.
Instead of reveling in the euphoria of pinning the first loss against Pacquiao in seven years, Bradley had to deal with critics’ charges that he was the beneficiary of a gift decision. Moreover, in his first title defense against Ruslan Provodnikov on March 16, Bradley survived a late brutal assault from his Russian-born challenger and escaped with a tight unanimous decision victory.
Bradley, 30, suffered a concussion in the Provodnikov bout but says he has been medically cleared to fight Marquez, whose last ring appearance was a sixth-round knockout win over Pacquiao in December.
“A lot of fighters don’t know that there is a lot of help out there for these concussions,” Bradley said. “My friends in the NFL got me the right treatment and I saw doctors out of New York, Long Beach [Calif.], that could aid and assist me with therapy work.
“Everything is back to normal now. I feel 100 percent and I never worried.”
Meanwhile, Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) is riding the high of stopping Pacquiao after three disputed decisions in their previous fights. Marquez, who turned 40 on Aug. 23, will have a second attempt at a 147-pound title following a lopsided loss against Mayweather four years ago.
“While I never thought that I would be fighting at this age, I have never felt that I should retire just because of my age,” said Marquez, who began his string of world titles as a featherweight and eventually won belts in the junior-lightweight, lightweight and junior-welterweight divisions. “My body continues to feel good and mentally I feel at the top of my game.
“The key has been my ability to stay focused on what I need to do between fights and once I get into training camp — the ability to work hard and stay disciplined.”
In the Bradley-Marquez undercard, Puerto Rico’s Orlando Cruz (20-2, 10 KOs) will fight Mexico’s Orlando Salido for the vacant WBO featherweight title. Late last year, Cruz (20-2, 10 KOs) became the first recognized active fighter to reveal that he is gay.
Salido (39-12, 27 KOs) is a former featherweight titleholder whose signature performances were two knockout wins over ex-champion Juan Manuel Lopez.
Miguel Cotto snapped a two-fight losing streak with a third-round technical knockout victory over Delvin Rodriguez before 11,912 Saturday at the Amway Center in Orlando.
Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) pressured Rodriguez from the opening seconds with combinations to the body. In the closing seconds of the second round, Cotto wobbled Rodriguez with a right and left hook to the head.
Cotto went for the finish at the start of the third as he dropped a fading Rodriguez (28-7-3) with a right to the head and two hooks to the body.
Referee Frank Santore stopped the junior-middleweight bout at 18 seconds of the round.
Rau’shee Warren and Errol Spence, teammates on the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team, will fight in separate undercard bouts of a card Oct. 14 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
The show’s main event will match junior-middleweights Jermell Charlo (21-0, 10 KOs) and Jose Rodriguez (17-2, 2 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout. For information, call 800-745-3000.