Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez will engage in an all-out war for Bradley's WBO belt on Saturday night in Las Vegas, in what is certain to be a Fight of the Year candidate.
Neither fighter backs down from a fight, and both have trouble backing down once a brawl begins. It's a dangerous strategy in boxing, a sport in which one punch can change a fight.
Well, it can in most cases, but the careers of both Bradley (30-0, 12 KO) and Marquez (55-6, 40 KO) challenge the truth of that old boxing cliché.
Marquez once rose from the canvas three times to earn a draw against Manny Pacquiao in 2004. He hasn't looked back since. Though a dedicated counterpuncher, Marquez's Mexican heritage never ceases to disappoint once the fight turns into a brawl.
Bradley is the same way. His footwork and hand speed are amongst boxing's best, but he fails to utilize his athleticism to its full potential. Despite pleas from his corner to move around and box in his last fight against Ruslan Providnikov, Bradley traded shots and suffered a concussion that left him slurring words for two months.
He still won the fight.
These two are true warriors at heart. Both have been out on their feet in major fights and punched their way back to consciousness, and often times victory. It doesn't really matter that Bradley may have better footwork or that Marquez is more accurate. Ultimately, when someone connects with a few shots on Saturday night, it's on.
The real question surrounding this fight is whether it will be a commercial success. Bradley-Marquez is only available on HBO pay-per-view, and neither fighter has proven their value as the top billing on a card. Unfortunately, when two B-side fighters tend to meet, it isn't a big deal outside of boxing fans. Though both fighters have defeated Pacquiao, however dubious Bradley's decision was, it isn't clear that either can hold the attention of the general public.
That's a real shame, because they're going to miss out on a great fight. They might also miss out on Bradley's official coming-out party, if he can pull off the victory.
Though most people point to Andre Ward as the American heir to Floyd Mayweather Jr, Bradley is an undefeated fighter in the money division looking for his second Hall of Fame scalp. A win here could propel him near the top of many pound-for-pound lists.
Unfortunately, Bradley is signed to Top Rank, so we are unlikely to see a Bradley-Mayweather matchup until Mayweather's contract with Showtime runs out. Still, a rematch with Pacquiao is possible, and another victory would secure his place among boxing's elite.
That will require discipline against Marquez, the best fighter he's met in the ring, but we're unlikely to see it. That's what makes boxing – and Bradley – so great to watch.
When everything is on the line, these guys throw down, and what happens next, happens next.