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Bradley ready for Abregu, the welterweights

15
Jun

Timothy Bradley Jr. is THE RING's No. 1-rated junior welterweight. Starting with Carlos Abregu on July 17, the 26-year-old titleholder wants to see how far he can climb the welterweight rankings. Photo / Craig Bennett/Fightwireimages.com.

Timothy Bradley’s July 17 welterweight fight with Argentine slugger Carlos Abregu is being billed as two debuts for the undefeated junior welterweight — his first fight on HBO and his first in the 147-pound division.

That’s not entirely true. While Bradley (25-0, 11 knockouts), a staple of Showtime’s boxing programming for the past few years, is making his HBO debut, his fight with Abregu (29-0, 23 KOs), which takes place in his backyard of Rancho Mirage, Calif., is not the Palm Springs native’s first welterweight bout.

Bradley, an amateur standout in the 152-pound division, turned pro at welterweight in August of 2004 and fluctuated between 139 and 146¾ pounds over the next three years before he traveled to the UK and outpointed British veteran Junior Witter to win a junior welterweight title in May of 2008.



Decision victories over fellow titleholder Kendall Holt last April and undefeated interim beltholder Lamont Peterson in December elevated Bradley to the top the deep 140-pound division’s rankings but his No. 1 status has not helped him land the high-profile junior welterweight bouts he desires.

Bradley wants showdowns with popular British titleholder Amir Khan and fellow Southern California standout Victor Ortiz. He thought his first HBO date would be a clash with highly regarded Marcos Maidana, but the Argentine puncher twice pulled out of fights with Bradley.

Only Devon Alexander, the marvelously talented southpaw beltholder from St. Louis, seems interesting in fighting Bradley, but that’s a fight that Bradley and his team — co-promoters Gary Shaw and Thompson Boxing, and manager Cameron Dunkin — believe needs to be built up.

So Bradley is re-entering the welterweight division on July 17 in hopes of attracting the established 147-pound contenders into the ring.

“I hope a win over a strong welterweight like Carlos Abregu launches a big fight for me and gets me in the pound-for-pound lists,” Bradley told members of the media during a Monday afternoon conference call. “If it doesn’t, I’ll just keep fighting. We know Devon Alexander is there at 140 pounds.”

“I want to fight (Alexander), and I’m willing to fight him in his hometown (St. Louis), but it needs to build up a little bit. I know people hate to hear this, but this is a business.”

Right now the big business is at welterweight. Bradley realizes that fights with Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. are unlikely, but showdowns with Shane Mosley or Andre Berto are possible and those fights would earn him more money than any top junior welterweight.

Berto and Bradley fought once in the amateurs, the finals of the 2003 national Golden Gloves tournament. Berto beat Bradley for the 152-pound title, but all those who witnessed the encounter say it’s one of the best amateur fights they’ve ever seen.

“It was a toe-to-toe fight, a high-octane, fast-paced exiting fight,” Bradley said. “I didn’t win the fight, but it was a great fight. It could have went either way. I was sick when I fought him, believe it or not, so I wasn’t at my best.

“If we fought now, it would be amazing. We both have big hearts, we both have speed, and we’re both combination punchers.”

It sounds like Berto brings the best out of Bradle, however, the undefeated titleholder also brings more power to the ring than any 140-pound contender, as most of the top welterweights do. Bradley is OK with that.

“It’s a big risk, going up in weight, but this is what separates stars from other fighters,” Bradley said. “We’re just trying to put ourselves into position to open up a new opportunities.”

Abregu is the gateway to those opportunities. If nothing else, the all-action brawler makes for fun TV. Abregu got up from two knockdowns to KO Irving Garcia in a wild fight-of-the-year candidate last year. In his last fight he got up from a second-round knockdown and dropped opponent Richard Gutierrez in the third before taking control of the fight down the stretch.

While Bradley was entertained by Abregu’s display of guts, he wasn’t impressed with the 27-year-old Argentine’s skill or technique.

“He’s a basic fighter,” Bradley said of Abregu. “He just looks to land a big right hand. He doesn’t move a lot and his defense isn’t that great, but he’s dangerous because he can punch and he can take a punch. He’s got a big heart, he’s got up the off the canvas twice and knocked a guy out.

“But I should be able to use my speed, my footwork, my angles, and my knowledge against him and win this fight. I’ve been sparring with 5-foot-10, 5-foot-11, and 6-foot junior middleweights and middleweights in the gym and I’m looking pretty good.”

If Bradley looks good against Abregu, who knows what the future holds for the 26-year-old titleholder.

When Bradley told the media that he’s coming down from 165 pounds for the Abregu fight and is currently around 155 pounds, Shaw cracked: “I didn’t know you were that heavy, Timmy, maybe we should go after the junior middleweights.”

“Let’s go to 154 pounds and fight (Miguel) Cotto, man,” Bradley said.

“I would do that (fight) in a second,” Shaw told the media. “I think Bradley knocks Cotto out.”