HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – It would be a gross understatement to say that Tim Bradley is merely confident going into his June 9 showdown with Manny Pacquiao.
The 28-year-old Palm Springs native wasn’t just brimming with confidence at his recent media day workout at the Fortune Gym; he was practically bursting with it. Bradley doesn’t think he’s going to beat Pacquiao. He knows he’s going to do it.
It’s why he had a “Bradley-Pacquiao 2” poster made along with a dozen media credentials that were passed out to the local boxing press that covered his open workout. It’s the undefeated junior welterweight titleholder’s way of proclaiming the outcome he envisions for next weekend’s HBO Pay-Per-View showdown and also staying one step ahead of the game, since there is a rematch clause in his contract with the Filipino icon.
If anyone other than Bradley pulled such a PR stunt it might have been viewed as overconfidence, false bravado or just bad taste. However, the media who packed the small gym are as familiar with Bradley (28-0, 12 knockouts) as the many hardcore fans and boxing insiders who respect him.
They know Bradley is not an arrogant or disrespectful person, nor is he the type of fighter to make claims that he doesn’t intend to back up in the ring.
“I’m more confident for this fight than I’ve been for any other,” Bradley said. “I’ve always had confidence. I guess I was born with it, but it’s also because of how hard I’ve always trained. I chose boxing because I work harder than everyone else. I chose this sport because I didn’t have to depend on anyone else but myself.
“Once I made up my mind to be a boxer, my father made sure that I was ready for what would come in the ring. He was hard on me. There was no limit to our training and he came up with difficult ways of motivating me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but he was pushing me beyond my limit so that I wouldn’t get hurt in there. He knew the guys I fought were out to hurt me and he wanted me to be ready for them.”
Timothy Bradley Sr. did a hell of job building a rock-solid foundation for his son’s professional trainer, Joel Diaz, to add to. Bradley has pretty much dominated every pro fighter he’s faced, including three standouts who held world titles at the time – Junior Witter, Kendall Holt, and Devon Alexander – and then-undefeated top contender Lamont Peterson.
Bradley wasn’t necessarily better skilled or more talented than they were, he just wanted it more. He says the magnitude of the Pacquiao fight has made him hungrier than ever.
“I’m training harder,” he said. “This is the hardest and longest I’ve ever trained.”
It’s difficult to imagine Bradley, who arguably has the most chiseled body in the sport, pushing himself any harder. One has to wonder if he risks burnout by working any more than usual.
“There’s always a danger of overtraining,” Bradley acknowledged, “but I listen to my body. When I’m tired, I rest. And my trainer knows me. If I don’t look right, he pulls me back.”
Diaz supported this statement, but added that he hasn’t had to pull Bradley back very much during this camp.
“Tim has boxed 147 rounds in preparation for this fight, and of those rounds there were maybe 10 rounds when he looked a little slow or sluggish,” said Diaz, a former lightweight title challenger.
“Those rounds usually happened on Mondays. He doesn’t like Mondays, but on the other sparring days, Wednesday and Friday, he was always great; more punches, more movement. He knows he has to be active to beat Manny, and he wants it so bad it could hurt him. He could overdo it, but I won’t let him.”
Diaz says the hard work is done. Bradley is already on weight (147 pounds) and will just relax and shakeout with very light workouts until fight night.
“He was ready to fight last week,” Diaz said. “He could fight today.”
Bradley’s readiness is not just about hunger and conditioning, Diaz says. His says his fighter is also ready to execute the perfect fight plan on June 9.
“I sleep very comfortable knowing what I’ve got in Tim and what we’ve been working on,” he said. “I did a lot of homework on Pacquiao and watched all of his fights going back to his first fight with Erik Morales. Pacquiao is a very active fighter who throws a lot of punches but he’s a one-dimensional fighter.
“Juan Manuel Marquez did a good job of taking advantage of his limitations but he didn’t do the extra things to win on the judges’ scorecards. Tim is going to match Pacquiao’s speed and the volume of his punches. He’s going to do the extra fighting to win in everybody’s eyes. If you want to beat Pacquiao, you have to take risks.”
Diaz’s strategy calls for Bradley to be cautious while frustrating the future hall of famer in the early rounds.
“I don’t want Tim to get caught early the way he did in the first round against Holt,” Diaz said. “I want him to be careful at first but once he gets that feel for Manny’s style, I know Tim, he’s going to want to go get him. He’s going to get inside and fight.”
Bradley is confident that it won’t take him long to figure out Pacquiao. He says he will let the odds-favorite know when he gains the upper hand.
“In the heat of the moment,” Bradley said, “I’ll know when to make my move.”
Photos / Chris Farina-Top Rank
Email Doug Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer