Brawling Bradley claims another victim

PONTIAC, Mich. – Timothy Bradley’s fights aren’t aesthetically pleasing exhibitions of the art. His style probably isn’t what Pierce Egan, the man who described boxing as “the sweet science,” had in mind when he turned that phrase.

Bradley’s fights are, well, fights: Tough, rough, dirty, ugly, nasty, physical, hard-nosed fights.

There are few men in the world who are skilled enough, quick enough and courageous enough to keep Bradley at bay and outbox him.

Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander mixed it up Saturday night, just the way Bradley likes it.
(AP)

Devon Alexander wasn’t up to the task on Saturday before 6,247 fans at the Silverdome, as Bradley rolled to a unanimous technical decision that clearly established him as the top 140-pounder in the world in the first battle of unbeaten American world champions since 1987.

Bradley was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards after the fight was stopped by referee Frank Garza at the 1:01 mark in the 10th following an inadvertent clash of heads that left Alexander was unable to continue.

Judge Omar Mintun had it 98-93, Duane Ford had it 97-93 and Tom Miller had it 96-95, all for Bradley, giving him the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization super lightweight titles. Yahoo! Sports scored it 97-93 for Bradley, as well.

“I felt I was coasting through the fight and it was pretty easy in there for me,” Bradley said.

It was easy for Bradley because he almost completely eliminated two of Alexander’s best weapons, his powerful uppercut and his rapier-like jab. Alexander landed only 31 jabs and really connected with only one uppercut of consequence.

Bradley, who is now 27-0, is a tireless worker in the gym who prepares for every eventuality. He and trainer Joel Diaz identified those two punches as keys to Alexander’s arsenal and worked day after day on plans to eliminate them.

“Someone was asking Alexander why he didn’t throw more uppercuts, but you know why he didn’t?” Diaz asked. “He didn’t, because Tim didn’t give him an opportunity to throw it. He didn’t put himself in position to be open for Alexander to throw an uppercut.”

It was much of the same story with the jab. Because Bradley is right-handed and Alexander is left-handed, their jab arms are on the same side. That allowed Bradley to pick it up easily. But he also was taught to throw something at the right side the minute he saw Alexander go to throw the jab.

The result was that Alexander’s jab was rendered largely useless, and without a strong jab that Bradley is forced to respect, he’s just going to bull his way inside and maul whoever he fights.

And he clearly bulled his way in and mauled Alexander, getting in and mugging Alexander at close range. Diaz wasn’t happy that Bradley didn’t work the body more, and let him know on more than one occasion between rounds in the corner.

Bradley was having success with his right hand and stuck with it.

Still, Alexander seemed drained by the time the 10th was beginning and Bradley appeared on the verge of a stoppage.

“Honestly, I think if that butt hadn’t happened, we would have stopped him in that round or the next one,” Diaz said.

The fight-ending head butt caused a bit of controversy at the post-fight news conference, when Alexander refused to give Bradley credit and said he kept getting butted.

Alexander’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, wouldn’t blame the butts, but it was clear he wasn’t happy with them.

“Tim Bradley, I congratulate him,” Cunningham said. “He came out victorious. I wish it was a fight without any head butts and cuts and all of that, but it went the way it went. He got the victory. Congratulations. It didn’t have anything to do with (Bradley’s) strength or anything like that. He did everything we expected him to do.

“There were some shots that were available for Devon and he just didn’t pull the trigger. The fight was a lot closer than the scores said they were, but Tim got the victory, so congratulations. (Devon) could have hit Tim with the straight left hand and the left uppercut every time he threw it, but he didn’t throw it often.”

The fight came to an inglorious end during an exchange in the 10th. Both men were following through after throwing a punch and their heads came together. Bradley had a small cut outside of his right eye, but Alexander, who received stitches around both eyes, complained that an eye was burning.

Ringside physician Peter Samet was worried about nerve damage and advised Garza that Alexander could not continue.

“I told Devon that he had to open his right eye or the fight would be over,” Samet said. “I asked him to open his eye three times, but he couldn’t do it. I feared temporary nerve damage or temporary paralysis was preventing him from opening his eye, so I recommended to the referee that the contest be stopped.”

Alexander promoter Don King clearly wasn’t happy that Alexander didn’t finish the fight and didn’t hide his feeling.

He praised Bradley’s aggressiveness and said Alexander didn’t match it. But he all but came out and said Alexander should have continued.

“I would have liked to have seen it go to the finale,” King said. “In a fight of this magnitude, you’re supposed to be drug out of there. You ain’t supposed to go out talking and walking. You’re supposed to be drug out. Whatever it is, it was only two more rounds.”

Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, who called the fight for HBO, said Bradley’s determination turned out to be the difference. Bradley wanted it, made no secret of it, and then went out and got it.

Alexander wasn’t as forceful or as aggressive and it cost him.

“As fighters, Bradley is such an independent little man, whereas Alexander’s strength seems to be very dependent upon his coach and this and that,” Steward said. “Alexander has a team. Bradley is by himself. He is just a strong-willed, individual man. That’s the difference and you could see it in their facial expressions. Bradley is a tough-willed man.

“He’s a hard-nosed guy with skills and he knows how to take his (lack of) height and make it an advantage. He gets right into guys and crowds them. He’s very, very tough and a smart fighter. I was impressed with him. I think he would beat (World Boxing Association super lightweight champion) Amir Khan.”

Bradley declined to call out an opponent, though Khan is his most logical next opponent. There is a rematch clause, but it is at HBO’s discretion and it would be a stunner if HBO opted for a rematch with the possibility of a Bradley-Khan fight.

Bradley said he’d leave it to the fans to go to Twitter and pick his opponent and that he’d be willing to fight whoever they chose.

Whoever that individual turns out to be, he’d better have a big heart, a hard head and a tremendous amount of boxing skills. If not, Bradley will grind him into submission, just like he has his previous 27 opponents.

He may not be pretty, but at 140 pounds right now, he’s definitely the best.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Sunday, Jan 30, 2011