Bradley Moves Forward

Photo by Michael Snyder/Associated Press

Photo by Michael Snyder/Associated Press

Tim Bradley is no longer in that “dark place” he described in the aftermath of his highly controversial victory over Manny Pacquiao back in 2012. Normally one of the more genial boxers around, during that stretch, he was an embittered individual and found himself at odds with his promoter and the target of boxing fans (some of whom Bradley claims left him and his family death threats. The tamer ones merely left him nasty messages on social media).

 

He was that guy who won the lottery and still felt like he was on food stamps.

 

As Bradley looks ahead to his December 13 bout against Diego Chaves in Las Vegas, he has seemingly regained his mojo. The personable Bradley said this past Monday at the Avalon Hotel in Hollywood, where the official announcement was made for his upcoming fight, “No longer in that dark place, you could call it ‘swept under the rug’ or whatever you want to call it, ‘water under the bridge.’ I’m past that now. That chapter’s gone; whew…thank God it’s gone. I’m moving on, man. Manny Pacquiao defeated me in my last appearance and I’m just trying to get back on track.”

 

Bradley is back in the good graces of the boxing fan base after being a pariah in the wake of his first encounter with the “Pac-Man.” It was bad enough that the decision was widely derided, Bradley – who ended the night in a wheelchair after suffering injuries to his ankles and feet – didn’t help his own cause by being so doggone insistent that, yeah, he won that fight. Perhaps the public hates a sore winner worse than they do a sore loser. But part of the charm of the “Desert Storm” is that he’s both literally and figuratively hard-headed.

 

In the aftermath of that “victory,” Bradley was then matched against Ruslan Provodnikov in what was supposed to be a rather routine defense of his WBO welterweight title. Instead, he decided to get into a firefight with a heavy-handed flamethrower and he left with his belt – barely- and a concussion for his efforts. Bradley-Provodnikov was the 2013 “Fight of the Year” but those come at a price; it’s a contest that may have taken years off his career. It was a beautiful brutality between the two at the StubHub Center and a bout which Bradley admitted to not remembering long stretches.

 

He followed up that slugfest with a strategic win over future Hall-of-Famer Juan Manuel Marquez last October at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Argue with the decisions all you want but how many fighters in recent times have gone through a gauntlet of Pacquiao, Provodnikov and Marquez – and then Pacquiao again? Even Bradley’s most hard-boiled critic has to tip his cap to him. The fans have come to an understanding; they may not necessarily love Bradley but they do respect him.

 

“The fans respect me as a fighter and they respect me as a man,” said Bradley, who is solidly at peace with his rematch loss to Pacquiao this past April. “The second fight basically solidified that Manny Pacquiao was the better opponent that night. He was the better opponent that night and he beat me fair and square and me, as a man, hey, I didn’t say, ‘Oh, I won.’ No, I lost. So fans appreciate that; they appreciate that I gave Pacquiao the utmost respect after the fight. I didn’t want to talk about anything; I didn’t want to take anything away from Pacquiao.

 

“He beat me fair and square, so the fans appreciate that and they respect that.”

 

What should be appreciated is that Bradley has had a complete career. It’s something rarer and rarer in an era of boxers who are shielded from past rites of passage that marked prizefighters by overprotective promoters or some, who just flat-out hide behind their advisers. Maybe it’s because Bradley was never going to be an A-side attraction, the kind who is cultivated and insulated from any real risk or hardships. Bradley’s road was destined to always be hard.

 

It’s why he had to travel to the UK to win his first world title against the difficult (to say the least) Junior Witter and face Kendall Holt and Devon Alexander in unification bouts in locales such as Montreal and (more forgettably) the Pontiac Silverdome. Some careers are choreographed; this one has been forged. Through it all, Bradley has basically cleaned out a division (during his junior welterweight run), faced Hall-of-Famers, been involved in major pay-per-view cards and banked millions of dollars.

 

Through it all, boxing and Tim Bradley have been good for each other.

 

Now he faces Chaves, your typically strong and rugged Argentine. It’s a tough fight but one the 31-year-old from Cathedral City should win. Afterwards, Bradley wants to go big-game hunting once again but he states, “I don’t have any particular names but any guy out there who’s considered one of the best in my division, maybe a division up.”

 

Speaking of a ‘division up,’ there has been some talk of Bradley facing the winner of next year’s proposed bout between Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez. But can this muscular fire hydrant of a man fight effectively at junior middleweight or middleweight?

 

“Oh, absolutely, absolutely. A lot of people don’t know my track record, man,” points out Bradley. “I fought as high as 152 in the amateurs; that’s two pounds away from the [professional] junior middleweight [limit], so I fought against guys who were six-foot. Those guys are not six-foot. These guys are relatively shorter guys for their weight class. They’re maybe 5-8 at maybe the most. They’re not that tall. They’re wide; they’re big and they’re strong but I walk around 170, 175, dude.”

 

He then points out his gene pool; his father, Timothy Ray Bradley Sr. is the size of your garden variety nose guard.

 

“Look at his build. When I get off and I just eat, I just get big. I don’t even have to lift weights.”

 

 

TNR

 

The latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:

 

The Next Round: Episode 502 Gennady Golovkin, Nicholas Walters Spectacular

 

 

WEEKEND FLURRIES

 

ESPN3.com will be streaming the card from Monte Carlo featuring Martin Murray-Domenico Spada and two other title fights this afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. ET…Murray could be in line to face Gennady Golovkin early next year if he comes out victorious…This week’s edition of “Solo Boxeo” on UniMas features Jose Carlos Ramirez against the well-worn David Rodela…Prayers go out to “The Blade,” Iran Barkley, who recently suffered a stroke…“Nashville” has been great but seriously, Scarlett O’Connor is getting on my nerves…Can’t believe we are heading into the final episode of “Boardwalk Empire” on HBO…How ‘bout that Duke Johnson?! Here’s my blog for CanesInsight.com on the Canes victory over the Hokies in Blacksburg: CanesInSight – K9Cane’s Korner – Canes Play 8-Ball in Blacksburg…I can be reached at steve.kim@ucnlive.com and I tweet (a lot) at http://twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at http://instagram.com/steveucnlive.

 

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