LAS VEGAS -- Timothy Bradley's conquest of Juan Manuel Marquez inspired the unbeaten world welterweight champion from Palm Springs to chase even greater glory.
"If a Floyd Mayweather fight could materialize, I'd love it," Bradley (31-0) said late Saturday night after beating Marquez by split decision at Thomas and Mack Center.
Given the business relationships and years of hard feelings that exist, however, that's a wish that seems unlikely.
Bradley's promoter, Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum, and Mayweather split on bitter terms last decade and haven't worked together since. Top Rank's biggest fights are on HBO, while world junior-middleweight champion Mayweather (45-0) is in a 30-month, multi-fight deal with rival Showtime.
"I know about all of it," Bradley said Sunday. "I'll talk to my promoter and my manager and still see if we can make it happen. I want to fight the top dog in boxing. We've got to try."
Barring a Nov. 23 victory by Manny Pacquiao that could resurrect calls for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, Bradley, 30, is clearly the best possible May opponent for Mayweather, whose best Showtime options are unbeaten junior-welterweight champion Danny Garcia or former 140-pound champion Amir Khan.
Attempts to reach Mayweather and his advisers Sunday were unsuccessful.
Bradley said he punched his ticket to the boxing hall of fame in beating Marquez (55-7-1), avoiding the biggest punches of the challenger who was seeking to win a Mexican-record world title in a fifth weight class.
Marquez said after being frustrated again by Nevada judges following a draw and two narrow losses by decision to Pacquiao that he is leaning toward retirement.
Judge Robert Hoyle scored it 115-113 for Bradley, and Patricia Morse Jarman had it 116-112 for the World Boxing Organization champion. Glenn Feldman of Connecticut scored it 115-113 for Marquez.
"I was quick, elusive, hard to hit and frustrated him," Bradley said. "I showed I can out-smart him. I'm one of the best fighters in the world now.
"I'm the best possible opponent for Mayweather, but it's all up to him. Mayweather controls it. He can fight Danny Garcia or Amir Khan if he wants, but I would love a shot at him and think I definitely deserve a shot.
"Mayweather will fight anybody if it makes sense for him. I've said I'd like to fight him. I'm not sure what I have to do to fight him beyond that."
Bradley's manager, Cameron Dunkin, said Arum and Top Rank President Todd duBoef have told him they're "very willing to do the" Mayweather fight.
"Floyd Mayweather promotes himself. He can do whatever he wants," Dunkin said.
"It depends on what the deal is," Arum said Sunday. "If Mayweather wants to do a negotiation, we'll do one. We know the legalities and we can work it out. I do what my fighters want."
To do solid pay-per-view numbers, Arum said, Mayweather wants "a good second side, like he had in," Sept. 16 opponent Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, or last year against Miguel Cotto.
Bradley failed to generate 1 million pay-per-view buys with Pacquiao, but he's boosted his appeal by turning in a possible fighter-of-the-year campaign that included his March brawl against Ruslan Provodnikov.
Bradley, said Arum, "is doing what he needs to do. He fought a very smart fight against a man who was very experienced and a much harder puncher."
If Mayweather doesn't happen, the winner of Pacquiao-Brandon Rios makes the most sense for Bradley.
Marquez, meanwhile, not only said he wouldn't fight in Nevada again, he said he would "retire" after the defeat.
Arum said if Pacquiao wins next month, the promoter has been approached by businessmen in Mexico who want to bring Pacquiao-Marquez V to Mexico City next year.
"Money is money," Arum said.
Exiting the arena to the chill of a desert night Saturday, the 40-year-old was asked by a reporter if he really wanted to end his career here.
"It's a difficult decision," said Marquez, turning to a reporter, revealing a swollen, bruised face. "What do you think?"
Marquez was told he performed like he had at least a couple more fights left in him.
"I don't think so," Marquez said, walking away.
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