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Mets' Marquez has eyes on the ring
Outfielder, Texas Tech receiver embraces odd fight connection
10/10/2013 6:00 AM ET
Bradley Marquez is rooting for Juan Manuel Marquez (top right) over Tim Bradley.
Bradley Marquez is rooting for Juan Manuel Marquez (top right) over Tim Bradley. (Allen Greene, AP)

Bradley Marquez will be watching Bradley-Marquez.

"My friends and family have been sending me pictures of the 'Bradley-Marquez' headlines," Marquez laughed. "It's a cool deal, it's a good thing."

Confused yet? Stick with us: Bradley Marquez is a Minor League outfielder in the Mets system, who also happens to play college football at Texas Tech, and owns the same name as the hyped boxing match this weekend between welterweight stars Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, a fight widely promoted simply as "Bradley-Marquez."

Marquez, a 20-year-old dual-sport athlete, said he plans to catch the fight after suiting up for Texas Tech against visiting Iowa State in Lubbock earlier Saturday, and not just because of the name connection -- Marquez is a legit boxing fan.

"I watched the [Floyd] Mayweather and [Miguel] Cotto fights -- I knew it was coming," he said of the upcoming Bradley-Marquez bout. "My family and friends [have mentioned it] through texts and it's been really fun. It's even more of a coincidence with me being half black and half Hispanic, and with Tim Bradley being black and Marquez being Mexican -- it's been an interesting deal for me."

Marquez was selected by the Mets in the 16th round of the 2011 Draft out of Odessa High School in Texas and debuted with Rookie-level Kingsport in 2012. He hit .250 with a homer, nine RBIs and three steals in 27 games this summer with the K-Mets before returning to Texas Tech for his junior year with the Red Raiders, where as a wide receiver, he caught touchdowns in each of his first four games to help the program to a perfect 5-0 start.

Somehow, in between pro ball, football and life as a college student, Marquez has managed to keep an eye on the ring.

"When the big fights are on, I watch," he said. "I watched the Canelo Alvarez-Mayweather fight, I watched [the Cotto] one. I watched Tim Bradley fight Manny Pacquiao in that questionable win. The big ones and the matchups the fans want to see, there's always a buzz around everywhere, so you always want to catch them."

Marquez said he plans to catch the fight Saturday night after his game.

"I have some family in town, and being home, we'll probably watch," he said. "The game will definitely be done by the time the fight starts, so I'll probably watch with family and friends -- it'll give us something to do."

Marquez, who is majoring in Exercise and Sports Science at Texas Tech, said he's boxed with friends before, but nothing serious.

"I had a friend of mine back in my sophomore year of high school, he got into boxing and was doing it, so when he was training, I went out to train with him," he said. "But as far as real matches, just some boxing matches with two buddies, throwing the gloves on in the living room and messing around."

Saturday's bout will be far from friendly. Bradley, the reigning WBO welterweight champion, takes on the veteran Marquez following the former's brutal win in March over Russian Ruslan Provodnikov, a fight in which Bradley fell behind early and suffered a concussion. The 30-year-old also won a disputed decision over Pacquiao last June, a victory that put a cloud over his sparkling 30-0 record.

Marquez, a 40-year-old Mexican who is 55-6-1, takes on the younger Bradley in the veteran's first fight since he stunned Pacquiao by knocking him out last December. The WBO belt is again up for grabs.

As with all big fights, a lot of money is at stake -- Marquez is expected to earn $6 million while Bradley will take home just over $4 million. 

But for Bradley Marquez, money isn't his biggest focus. He received a $325,000 signing bonus from the Mets two years ago -- a big payday for a 16th-rounder -- but collected only $100,000 of it up front; the remaining $225,000 was to be paid this year if Marquez committed to being a full-time baseball player by Sept. 15. Instead, he chose football and left Kingsport amidst a playoff run in July, but it's a decision he's comfortable with both athletically and financially.

Bradley Marquez
Texas Tech's Bradley Marquez (4) catches a pass against Oklahoma last October. (Texas Tech/AP)

"It was a tough decision, it's something that took me time. I prayed about it with family and discussed with my mom, but I think I made the right choice and I'm fine with that decision," he said. "I still love playing baseball. I'm still part of the Mets organization. Money isn't everything these days, so it's one of those things -- I love playing both, I have a passion for both. I wasn't ready to make a decision, but maybe later on down the road, maybe it'll be easier for me. But I have no regrets -- I made the right choice." 

Marquez said it was difficult leaving behind a Mets squad that reached the Appy League Finals, especially after bonding with teammates he met last year.

"It was good, I'm glad I was able to stay healthy. We had a really good team, it was just fun, to go from last year to this year. We had a lot of guys who repeated, so we all grew and that really showed with them making it as fast as they did, to make it to the championship series in the Appalachian League," he said. "I've kept in touch when they were still in the hunt. It [stunk] they lost, but we showed a lot of improvement."

As with any two-sport athlete, the transition and commitment involved is a challenge.

Bradley Marquez with Mets
Kingsport's Bradley Marquez hit .250 in the Appy League this season. (Allen Greene)

"I try to [practice baseball] now and then as much as I can, but football demands the bulk of my time now," Marquez said. "It's one of those things -- when I get the opportunity to get someone to throw to me in the cages. In the spring, I turn it up a notch and get a lot in. ... I always played both sports, so it's something that comes naturally to me. The transition goes smoothly."

And what's it like, going from sleepy Kingsport to the bright lights of Division-I football?

"College football -- everyone knows the excitement and the tension it brings with the huge crowds and TV and exposure," he said. "We have 60,000 fans and even more on TV. It's run like a business around here. It is like a business essentially, except we don't get paid."

Eventually, he hopes he will get paid, either in baseball or football. Right now, he's not making the call.

"It's definitely my dream to play in the Majors or the NFL, to play a sport at the top level, whichever one comes," he said. "I don't feel like I know what my calling is as of yet. That's my goal -- to play baseball or football at the highest level."

More importantly, at least for now -- who's he rooting for Saturday night?

"I have to go with Juan Manuel Marquez," he said. "I've just watched him in previous fights, I like the way he fights, and obviously we have the same last name, but Bradley is my first name, so… I would go with the same last name. I just have that gut feeling -- I'm going with Marquez."

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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