HBO boxing analyst Max Kellerman conducted a fascinating interview with Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez about their Oct. 12 welterweight title fight in Las Vegas. An edited, shortened version of that interview appears above.
In the full version, which is still available via HBO GO, Bradley makes several startling admissions, conceding that he was slurring his words and having trouble with his memory months after his scintillating March 16 victory over Ruslan Provodnikov.
That bout is one of the front-runners to be named 2013 Fight of the Year, and is one of the defining moments of Bradley's career.
During the 12-minute segment, he makes several startling admissions.
A few weeks after the fight, I was still affected by the damage that was done. My speech was a little bit off and I was slurring a little bit. After about two months, I got my speech back and I got my wits about me.
Bradley goes on to repeatedly say he'll pay any price to win, even if it is harmful to him. He attributes his incredible competitive streak and desire to win to his father.
Kellerman said, "How do you talk, not casually but matter-of-factly, about the fact that you were fighting unconsciously [against Provodnikov]? ... How do you reconcile what's happening to you physically in those situation in your own mind?"
I don't really think about that. Boxing is the hurt business. You have to deal with the consequences later. I'm willing to go into the devil's mouth and do what I have to do, or even dive into the deepest part of the ocean if need be to win. I'll deal with the consequences later.
Kellerman seemed startled by Bradley's brutally honest answer. Nearly every boxer refers to himself as a warrior and says those kinds of things, but Bradley says it with a conviction that few others do.
And he also proved he meant it by the way he fought so valiantly after being blasted by the hard-hitting Provodnikov.
It's just my competitive nature. I guess it's something you're born with. My Dad possibly instilled it in me. I just got a will man, an unbelievable will. I'm almost like a rooster. You ever seen a rooster fight, when he's dead on the floor and he's still pecking. That's me. I'm dead on the floor and I'm still pecking, baby.
Bradley talks in the first episode of HBO's 24/7: Bradley/Marquez about his concussion he suffered in the Provodnikov fight and how he went to see a series of doctors to make certain he's fine. He talked about the risks of fighting and said he keeps a small entourage because he knows that boxing is so dangerous, any career can end quickly. He doesn't want to be indebted to anyone.
I don't need anyone to come around and tell me I'm this and tell me I'm that. It don't get as pricey, either. It only takes one punch to end that money train for you.
Hopefully, Bradley is fine and isn't at a greater risk than the average boxer. He's one of the sport's true good guys, a complete professional and a total class act in good times and in bad. He's fiercely devoted to his family and sees boxing as the vehicle to help it.
It was eerie to hear him talk so casually and laugh so easily about his concussion and its symptoms.
No one wants to see anyone leave the business with serious head trauma, and particularly not a person of Bradley's caliber. When the time finally comes that enough is enough, here's hoping that Bradley realizes it or that there is someone around him whom he listens to who will tell him the truth.