(SportsNetwork.com) - It's sure been a rough stretch for the keyboard warriors.
First, Timothy Bradley eschews the very fighting style that got him into their good graces seven months ago and elects to (gasp!) use clear advantages in hand and foot speed to make a potentially compelling slugfest into a far less titillating 12-round clinic over frustrated plodder Juan Manuel Marquez.
"Desert Storm," my eye.
Then, seven days later, one of the guys to whom the toughies point as an example of all that's worthwhile in a boxing ring -- Mike Alvarado -- gets his senses handed to him over the back half of a brawl with Ruslan Provodnikov, and (gasp!) surrenders on his stool between rounds 10 and 11 rather than prolonging the carnage for six more brain-rattling minutes.
And you call yourself a fighter, Alvarado? Pshaw.
In explaining his lumpy-faced sacrilege afterward, the now-twice-beaten Denver wannabe was clearly in violation of the tough guy bylaws when he said, "It was not worth taking more punishment because the damage could be permanent. It was just not my night."
"Permanent damage." "Just not my night." Doesn't he know that nothing beyond a sissy-boy would consider abandoning a fight short of a flat-lining EKG? Isn't he aware that permanent disfigurement or debilitating brain injury aren't just long-term conditions for which there are neither cures nor fanfare, but they're also badges of honor for the "I have an apartment in my Mom's basement" set?
For crying out loud, what is this guy, Victor Ortiz?
Oh sure, Alvarado tried to weasel his way back into the macho men's club by insisting he has "a lot of heart" and that he's "not a quitter," but we all know better, right? One day a guy takes a powder because he's more concerned with long-term health than short-term triumph, and the next thing you know he's begging out of a fight with a broken jaw.
It's enough to make a knuckle-dragger take up tennis.
Meanwhile, in the same last couple of weeks, it's gotten a lot better to be Bradley.
Not only did the WBO welterweight champ add some much-needed credibility to an ill-gotten reign with the defeat of Marquez, but he also ensured that his near-term dance card will remain full regardless of with whom he's promotionally aligned going forward.
Assuming he maintains the status quo as a member of Bob Arum's posse at Top Rank, Bradley could conceivably choose from a pair of past nemeses for the second defense of his crown -- either the suddenly red-hot Provodnikov, or the soon-to-be-resurrected Manny Pacquiao.
Of course, the chance does exist that Pacquiao's return to prominence will be sidetracked by Brandon Rios next month -- adding "Bam Bam" to the mix -- but I equate that to roughly the same probability that I'll hit for $400 million the next time I stroll to the drug store to buy a lottery ticket.
In other words, it sure would be interesting, but I'll hold off on buying the yacht.
Meanwhile, if Bradley tests the promotional waters sans Arum, he conveniently opens the door to showdowns with the remaining mainstream welterweight champs -- WBA claimant Adrien Broner, IBF holder Devon Alexander and the granddaddy of them all, WBC kingpin Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- all of whom either work directly with Golden Boy, or have an active snit with Top Rank.
Not a bad deal for a guy whose only clear win at 147 a year ago was Luis Abregu.
This week's title-fight schedule:
IBF light heavyweight title -- Atlantic City, N.J.
Bernard Hopkins (champion) vs. Karo Murat (No. 2 contender)
Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO): First title defense; Previously held IBO and WBC belts at 175
Murat (25-1-1, 15 KO): First title fight; First fight in United States
Fitzbitz says: "Hopkins has feasted on younger and stronger foes since exiting the middleweight division, and untested Murat doesn't nearly measure up to what he's already beaten." Hopkins in 11
IBF junior flyweight title -- Makati City, Philippines
John Riel Casimero (champion) vs. Felipe Salguero (No. 6 contender)
Casimero (18-2, 10 KO): Second title defense; Lost first title fight at 112 pounds (2011)
Salguero (18-4-1, 13 KO): Second title fight; Tenth fight against plus-.500 foe (6-2-1)
Fitzbitz says: "Casimero hasn't won all his fights since reach the top level among the little guys, but he's clearly proven better than what the unqualified Mexican brings to the table." Casimero in 9
IBF lightweight title -- Tijuana, Mexico
Miguel Vazquez (champion) vs. Ammeth Diaz (No. 1 contender)
Vazquez (33-3, 13 KO): Sixth title defense; Beat Diaz (UD 12) for third title defense in 2012
Diaz (32-11, 23 KO): Second title fight; Ninth fight outside Panama (2-6)
Fitzbitz says: "Vazquez has become more and more appreciated as he's racked up title defenses, and an 11-loss veteran whom he's already topped once doesn't figure to change things." Vazquez by decision
WBO middleweight title -- Atlantic City, N.J.
Peter Quillin (champion) vs. Gabriel Rosado (No. 9 contender)
Quillin (29-0, 21 KO): Second title defense; First fight in New Jersey
Rosado (21-6, 13 KO): Second title fight; Lost try for IBO and WBA belts in January
Fitzbitz says: "Rosado was pounded in a bid for other 160-pound titles, and, while it's likely to be a trifle less concussive this time around, it won't be any more successful for him." Quillin by decision
Last week's picks: 2-0
2013 picks record: 58-32 (64.4 percent)
Overall picks record: 521-184 (73.9 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.