Tireless Tim Bradley still pushing, still adapting
PHOENIX – Timothy Bradley is a father and a fighter. Lately, he’s mostly a dad. A newborn son has kept him moving around like a speed bag. Malakai, the fifth child in the Bradley family, was born six weeks ago.
“Busy, man,” he said. “Crazy busy.”
Yet, enjoying every second of the chaos.
Bradley’s boxing career continues to unfold in its own way and at its own pace, almost in a mom-and-pop kind of way. Wife Monica manages him when she isn’t managing Malakai. That means training for yet another fight, against Jessie Vargas on June 27 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Then, there’s a new pursuit on the safe side of the ropes.
That’s what brings him to Phoenix Friday night in his second assignment as a ringside analyst for the truTV telecast (10 p.m. ET/7p.m. PT) of Jose Benavidez Jr.’s 140-pound fight against Jorge Paez Jr. at U.S. Airways Center.
Bradley likes the work. For anybody who ever spent even a just a few minutes around him, that’s no surprise. He likes to talk. Good at it, too.
“I can talk all day,” said Bradley, who would be a multiple winner of Boxing’s Best Interview if there was such an award. “And I think I have an IQ for boxing. I can break down fights. I’ve got a game plan for every fight, for every round, no matter how many rounds.”
He’s also got a point of view forged by the kind controversy that would either force some to take a vow of silence or others to speak only in cliches. His split decision over Manny Pacquiao on June 9, 2012, ranks as the Controversy of the Century. 85 years from now, there’s a pretty good chance it still will.
In terms of internet rancor, there’s been nothing in boxing that rivals it. Bradley got death threats. He was a villain for something he didn’t do. He didn’t score the fight. He only fought and – in retrospect – he began to expose Pacquaio’s weaknesses. Yet, he was the target of a world armed with computers and no accountability.
Bradley endured and came out of the fire renewed and as likable as ever. Now, in the wake of the colossal letdown over Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s decision over Pacquiao on May 2, he’s a good answer to all of those people who continue to say boxing is dead. Apparently, they’ve never met “Desert Storm.” If he’s not the face of the game, he’s the face of its resilience. He continues to move forward and re-invent himself, both as a fighter and a personality.
Mayweather-Pacquiao didn’t surprise him. The bout went the way he thought it would.
“Look, I’ve been in there with Manny, been there for 24 rounds” said Bradley, who lost a rematch to the Filipino by a unanimous decision on April 12, 2014. “His power is real. Floyd did exactly what he had to. I thought Floyd was brilliant.”
The controversy was the result of misleading hype and over-the-top prices, including $100 for the high-def version of pay-per-view.
There’s been subsequent criticism of Pacquiao’s post-fight disclosure of an injury to his right shoulder and Mayweather’s characteristic caution. But Bradley did not criticize either. Pacquiao underwent shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff. It’s hard to predict whether he’ll ever resume his career. Bradley believes he will.
“Absolutely, there’s no quit in that dog,” says Bradley, who believes that over time Pacquiao will be remembered alongside Mayweather as one of history’s greats.
Pacquiao, he said, throws combinations “the way Sugar Ray Robinson did.” He also has no argument with Mayweather’s TBE claim on being The Best Ever.
“TBE? Absolutely,” Bradley says. “He the rest of his generation. He might not be better than the legends, but he deserves to be right alongside them. I mean, I think of Sugar Ray Leonard. Sugar Ray and Floyd would have been one hell of a fight. People have got to realize that Floyd is tremendous.
“I don’t know of anybody who is in such great condition. He still is able to outwork, and out-think anybody in the late rounds. Nobody has his stamina. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. But not Floyd.”
It comes as no surprise that Bradley would love to have his own opportunity against Mayweather, who has said he will retire after completing his Showtime contract in September. Bradley-Mayweather looks unlikely, of course. Bradley’s name hasn’t even been mentioned. But that won’t interrupt Bradley from pursuing his own goals.
“I want to be considered,” he said. “I want to be considered one the best ever, too.
The unbeaten Vargas is dangerous, he says, in part because he’s relatively unknown.
“I’m approaching this fight like he’s Manny Pacquiao,” Bradley said.
After Vargas, Bradley, who will be 32 on August 29, foresees two more years in the ring. That means three, maybe four more fights. Ruslan Provodnikov wants a rematch of their bruising 2013 Fight of the Year.
“Ruslan and I can do it again,” Bradley said. “I’ve said it before: I’ll fight anybody and I mean anybody. But I got five kids and a wife and a dog. It’s gotta make sense.”