Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Bradley focuses on winning and waits


Timothy Bradley sat on the edge of a ring in a gym in the heart of Hollywood and captivated a gaggle of enthusiastic reporters with his charm, the kind of charm that could help make the junior welterweight titleholder a true star one day.

There was one problem, though: The content of the interview session. Bradley talked almost exclusively about fights he’d like to have instead of the one he actually has, against Carlos Abregu on Saturday night in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on HBO.

Bradley has joined a growing list of compelling young fighters lusting after big fights and waiting anxiously for them to become reality. In the meantime, if he continues to do what he has done consistently — win — he believes his time on the biggest stage will come.

“That’s my job, to win. That’s it,” he said.

Bradley (25-0, 11 knockouts) thought he had an agreement to fight Amir Khan in a 140-pound title-unification bout after outpointing then-unbeaten Lamont Peterson in December. However, before anything was signed, Khan left promoter Frank Warren for Golden Boy Promotions and his plans changed.

Bradley also had dates to fight Marcos Maidana in June and then July in what would’ve been a big junior welterweight clash but Maidana pulled out each time. The reason, it turns out, was a rift with his manager.

So Bradley had to settle for a fight at 147 pounds against Abregu, an unbeaten (29-0, 23 knockouts) Argentine fighter with good power but minimal name recognition.

The good news is that Bradley was hungry for a fight — any fight — because he hadn’t been in the ring since he met Peterson. And, not to be underestimated, the exposure he’ll get in his first fight on HBO (he’s fought on Showtime) is extremely valuable.

“It feels good to finally be on the big scene,” said Bradley, who was born and raised in the Palm Springs area. “I’ve worked my way up from the backyard. Now we gotta really show what we can do. This is a bigger audience. A lot of people will know who I am after this fight.”

Bradley has bigger plans than Abregu, though.

In his wildest dreams, he’d fight either Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao. And, of course, he feels he could win. He was tremendously impressed with Mayweather’s performance against Shane Mosley but added that “everybody is beatable, everybody can be touched. It don’t matter who you are and don’t matter how much you’ve accomplished.”

A matchup with one of the two biggest names in the sport isn’t likely for many reasons — one being that they’re negotiating to fight each other, another being that Bradley isn’t a marquee name — but he doesn’t rule anything out.

“I’m not sure that fight’s going to happen,” he said, referring to Mayweather-Pacquiao. “One of them is going to need a dance partner. I’m waiting, just waiting.”

We should get back to the real world, though. A high-profile matchup against one of his fellow 140-pounders IS realistic. The question is which one and when. Every top junior welterweight — Bradley, Devon Alexander, Khan, Maidana, et al — has said publicly he is willing and able to fight any of the others.

For example, Khan has said he wants to face the winner of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz fight on July 31 but also has mentioned Bradley and Maidana. Maidana has said he’d like to meet Bradley after all but also likes the idea of fighting Khan.

Bradley also would still like to fight Khan, whom he called “the most-protected fighter out there at 140.”

“They’re putting non-punchers in the ring with him, which is cool. I’ll let them do their thing. But sooner or later he has to step up to the plate and fight a real fighter.”

However, he seems to see a showdown with fellow unbeaten Alexander as his most-attractive option in part because Khan and Maidana, as well as Marquez and Diaz, all fight for Golden Boy while Alexander fights for Don King and probably needs an outside dance partner.

Bradley doesn’t want to fight Alexander right away, though. Assuming he gets past Abregu, he would like to fight on the same card as Alexander toward the end of the year and then meet the St. Louis product in a big fight next year, assuming Alexander beats Andreas Kotelnik on Aug. 7.

That makes sense from a business standpoint — the more hype, the more money the fighters make — but it seems all the fans do is wait, too.

“I don’t want to look past Abregu, who is a dangerous opponent,” Bradley said. “I have to win. ÔǪ Let’s build on this fight. Let’s [Bradley and Alexander] fight on the same card in November or December and then do it the first half of the new year. ÔǪ That’s the fight I want. His camp has been calling me out, saying I’m scared, this and that. No. I’m a fighter. I’ll fight anybody any place, any time. I’ll go to St. Louis and beat him if I have to.

“The thing is, business is involved in this as well. Fight fans don’t like to hear that, but it’s a business as well.”

Said Alex Camponovo, Bradley’s co-promoter: “We’ll see what happens with Devon and Kotelnik. I agree with Tim 100 percent, though. We have to build that fight. Nobody else out there at 140 wants to fight him.”

All the talk about possible opponents for Bradley was fun for the reporters, who like to speculate about who will fight whom as much as the fans. The part about Bradley possibly fighting Mayweather or Pacquiao was particularly amusing, even if it was fantasy.

Bradley, who was all smiles throughout the session, was asked whether he enjoyed the speculation too.

“It IS fun talking about,” he said, “but to actually get in there and do it is even more fun.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]