The Hottest Boxing Storylines to Watch in Week of October 7

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2013

The Hottest Boxing Storylines to Watch in Week of October 7

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    Juan Manuel Marquez will step back into the ring for the first time since knocking out Manny Pacquiao last December.
    Juan Manuel Marquez will step back into the ring for the first time since knocking out Manny Pacquiao last December.Al Bello/Getty Images

    The boxing calendar has been heating up of late, and it shows no signs of slowing down in the week ahead. 

    Saturday night saw the spectacular return of a former champion and pound-for-pound entrant, an ugly clinchfest in the heavyweight division, and lots of speculation about this weekend's coming clash between Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez.

    There's a lot to digest, boxing fans, and we hope this'll give you a few things to ponder as we face the week ahead. Here, we pull apart what we've seen and what we're about to see.

    These are the hottest storylines in boxing for the first full week of October.

Who Needs It More? Bradley or Marquez?

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    Can Timothy Bradley silence the naysayers?
    Can Timothy Bradley silence the naysayers?Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Timothy Bradley is a heck of a fighter. He received a fair amount of undeserved criticism in the wake of his—in the opinion of most—undeserved win over Manny Pacquiao last June. After all, Bradley was guilty of nothing more than fighting, and he had nothing to do with the scorecards.

    Oddly enough, when he faced Ruslan Provodnikov earlier this year, he was in the position of needing to prove himself after the biggest win of his professional career. 

    And he did just that, going toe-to-toe with the Russian puncher and surviving a knockdown to win a highly entertaining, exciting fight. A win against Marquez would get him the sort of positive press and fan support that he needs to shoot his career up to the next level.

    Juan Manuel Marquez validated his entire career with a short, stunning right hand that knocked Manny Pacquiao unconscious in the final seconds of Round 6 in their Dec. 2012 contest. It was a shocking conclusion and finally gave the Mexican a long-sought-after victory.

    But he's 40 years old now, and he's said as recently as September, that this fight could be his last. 

    If he wins, that's hard to believe. There will simply be too many lucrative opportunities out there, including a fifth Pacquiao showdown (he's thus far said he's not interested), or even a potential rematch with Floyd Mayweather

    So the question remains: Who needs this win more?

Will PED Questions Once Again Rear Their Ugly Head?

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    Marquez frequently finds himself the subject of PED questions, but no evidence exists to support them.
    Marquez frequently finds himself the subject of PED questions, but no evidence exists to support them.Al Bello/Getty Images

    There exists absolutely no evidence—hard, incontrovertible proof that would stand up in court—that Juan Manuel Marquez is or ever has cheated to gain an advantage in the ring. All that exists are innuendos and certain things that people say which don't pass the smell test, including his hiring of Angel "Memo" Heredia, who in the past had been tied to BALCO. 

    Timothy Bradley, for his part, insisted on the inclusion of strict USADA and VADA testing as part of the contract for their bout this coming Saturday night, and went as far as to threaten withdrawing if the protocols were not followed. Who can blame him? Whether you think Marquez is clean or not, strict drug tests should be mandatory in a sport where the object is to hurt your opponent.

    Now we know that it'll be the Nevada State Athletic Commission which has been—and will continue—administering the tests, and we know it doesn't have a sterling reputation in this regard (although it's recently announced steps to modify its program). This type of switcheroo—fairly or unfairly—will do nothing to quiet the whispers about something being up in the Marquez camp and could help to fan the fires.

    Bradley wasn't circumspect in his comments on the subject of PEDs during the first episode of 24/7 Bradley/Marquez, pointing out that he can be tested "365" and accusing Marquez of having "hired a cheater."

    Pretty strong words. 

Is Heavyweight Boxing Dead?

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    Klitschko's performance on Saturday was ugly, and he definitely didn't play within the rules
    Klitschko's performance on Saturday was ugly, and he definitely didn't play within the rulesEpsilon/Getty Images

    Call it whatever else you want, but pretty much everyone can agree that Wladimir Klitschko's victory over Alexander Povetkin on Saturday night was ugly. It wasn't the type of performance that wins you fans, and it's not the type of performance that should befit the recognized heavyweight champion of the world.

    Wladimir looked pretty uncomfortable in the early going as Povetkin was able to weave in past his jab and launch wide, winging hooks at his head. None of those big shots landed clean, and Wlad was able to dodge them with relative ease, but they did seem to cause him some concern.

    So much so that he spent the remainder of the fight headlocking Povetkin every time he got on the inside, and forcing the weight of his 242-pound frame down on his head and neck. It was—at best—excessive and should've drawn sterner warnings from referee Luis Pabon, who seemed to have no issue with a blatant flaunting of the rules. How bad was it?  

    Randy Gordon counted 171 clinches initiated by Wladimir. John Ruiz, is your record intact?

    — Michael Woods (@Woodsy1069) October 6, 2013

    Drawing comparisons to John Ruiz and clinching 171 times in a 12-round bout is not the kind of thing that'll bring heavyweight boxing back to the masses. It was about as bad a night for the big boys as you will ever see, and much of that blame lands squarely on the broad shoulders of the champion.

    And it tells you all you need to know that a showdown for the heavyweight championship of the world (once a premier sporting event in the United States) was relegated to a 3:30 p.m. start (on US television), from Russia, in the middle of college football season.

Does Miguel Cotto Have One More Run Left in Him?

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    Miguel Cotto was nothing short of ferocious on Saturday night.
    Miguel Cotto was nothing short of ferocious on Saturday night.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    You can say, "well it was only Delvin Rodriguez," all you want, but Miguel Cotto's performance on Saturday night in Orlando was pretty darn impressive. So much so, that it would appear rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. 

    Cotto, 32, was pretty much left for dead after back-to-back losses to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout last year. Most considered him an old 32—given the number of ring wars he'd been through—and expected that while he'd still compete, his days as a premier attraction at the top level were over.

    You can pretty much throw all that logic in the trash bin of history now.

    Cotto looked like he found the fountain of youth on Saturday night, and fighting for the first time under new trainer Freddie Roach, absolutely dominated the normally rugged and game Delvin Rodriguez before knocking him out in the third round.

    Most impressive was that he did it in a fashion we became used to seeing when Cotto was in the prime of his career. He was a predator, stalking his foe, and he utilized his once-signature left hook to the body to devastating effect. 

    For a guy who was dismissed as an afterthought before the fight, the future suddenly looks bright. He's not under contract with any network or promotional body and has potential fights with Sergio Martinez (should he stick with HBO) or Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (if he jumps back to Showtime) in the offing. 

    And what's more, you can't count him out in either of those affairs.

Is HBO Shooting Itself in the Foot?

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    Crawford vs. Klimov was one of the worst fights you'll ever see on TV.
    Crawford vs. Klimov was one of the worst fights you'll ever see on TV.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    An underrated reason for Showtime's recent success against HBO in the cable boxing wars has been its attention to detail. And one of the biggest details to which you can turn your attention is giving boxing fans some bang for their buck and time.

    Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime have become quite good at giving the fans more than one good fight on a given night, and that's been a large part of their success in winning so many converts from traditional powerhouse HBO. 

    So when HBO trotted out Terence Crawford and Andrey Klimov as the co-featured bout on the Cotto vs. Rodriguez card, you could only shake your head. 

    Crawford is highly talented, yes, but he's a bore when matched up against an opponent who won't engage. And to say that Klimov wouldn't engage would be putting it extremely nicely. He didn't do hardly anything at all, and by the end of his fight his own corner was calling him a coward between rounds.

    This type of nonsense used to be able to fly for HBO, but now that it isn't the undisputed top dog in the yard anymore, it'll need to up its game. That means investing in more than one good fight per card and giving boxing fans what they want.