Bradley on collision course to face Pacquiao
In about five weeks, after Juan Manuel Marquez is done chugging his own pee and Manny Pacquiao finally gets an emphatic victory over his long-time Mexican rival, the significance of Top Rank’s signing of super lightweight champion Timothy Bradley will be apparent.
Promoters sign boxers to new contracts all the time. And no promises were made to Bradley about any match against any specific opponent.
Knowing that, you can still feel free to write this on your calendar in pen, not pencil: Assuming Pacquiao defeats Marquez on Nov. 12, he’ll face Timothy Ray Bradley Jr. on May 5, 2012, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum and Bradley manager Cameron Dunkin insist a bout against Pacquiao was not a condition for signing the contract. Clearly, though, Dunkin and Bradley know the identity of the star of the Top Rank stable.
“This really has nothing to do with Pacquiao,” Dunkin insisted. “Hey, if he gets the Pacquiao fight, great, but this was about Timmy being promoted. Conference calls, press conferences, open workouts, appearances, all those kinds of things, that’s what this is about, about getting Timmy’s name out there and building him.
“He needs that and that’s what this is about. They’ve committed to doing it for him and Top Rank is very good at doing that. The Pacquiao thing is great if it happens, but this was about what’s best for his career.”
What Bradley needs more than anything is to fight. He’s perhaps the most anonymous world-class boxer there is, despite being eighth in the current Yahoo! Sports rankings of the world’s best fighters.
He only fought once in 2010, against the nondescript Luis Carlos Abrego, and once this year. His Jan. 29 super lightweight unification bout against Devon Alexander was heavily hyped, but turned out to be a dud and did more harm to him than good.
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He declined a July fight against fellow 140-pound titleholder Amir Khan and was promptly sued by his now former co-promoters Gary Shaw and Ken Thompson. It’s likely that Top Rank will be added to the suit for signing him, though Shaw refused to comment Monday on either Bradley or his court case against him.
Dunkin said he didn’t want to discuss the case in detail, though he said, “The truth of it is, he didn’t have a contract. Anybody is free to sue anybody else. I could sue you because I think your yard is too brown.”
When his manager and attorneys advised him that he was free to sign with Top Rank, Bradley jumped at the chance. He’s a fierce competitor who has been out of the spotlight far too long and is eager to get back at what he does best.
Top Rank has arranged a bout against veteran Joel Casamayor for Nov. 12 in the chief undercard match on the Pacquiao-Marquez pay-per-view card, giving Bradley an opportunity to help build interest in a future fight with Pacquiao.
Bradley is a bright guy and understands that he’ll be near the top of the list, if not at it, for Pacquiao’s next opponent should both men win on Nov. 12. But he’s also enough of a competitor that he didn’t sign the contract simply because of that carrot dangling out there.
“Basically, I need a fight, man, and that’s been my main focus,” Bradley said by telephone en route to the gym where he would resume preparation for his bout with Casamayor. “I wanted to get another fight in before the end of the year. I’ve had two fights in two years. It’s terrible, man. I need to fight.
“If that leads me on a path to Pacman, I’d be happy as hell, but I haven’t been promised a thing. I want to fight and get some of the ring rust off and do what I do.”
Bradley’s reputation took a beating when he declined the fight against Khan, but Bradley didn’t want to repeat the mistake he’d made in January.
There were cries in the media for him to fight Alexander, who held the International Boxing Federation junior welterweight title. The fight, though, bombed. In the ring, Bradley won a boring fight by a technical decision in the 10th round. Alexander was cut by an inadvertent head butt and couldn’t go on. It wasn’t a pleasing bout, it drew next-to-no fans to the cavernous Pontiac Silverdome and it got a less-than-stellar rating on HBO.
Bradley didn’t want to make the same mistake a second time. He was in the midst of a squabble with Shaw and felt the fight with Kahn wasn’t big enough at this stage to accept. He showed his toughness by saying no, despite overwhelming pressure to say yes.
“I wanted to let it cook some more,” Bradley said. “There was the whole thing with the contract, but really, I felt like it needed to marinate a bit. Coming off the Devon Alexander fight, yeah, I won another championship, but it didn’t do anything for my career. If anything, it hurt my career. The fight was terrible, it got a low rating and it just wasn’t what everybody expected.
“Me and Khan are going to get it on at some point, whether it’s at 140 or 147. It’s going to happen. But it seemed to me the best move at that point was to be patient.”
His patience is about to be rewarded. Arum hasn’t spoken to Pacquiao about fighting Bradley and he never makes a fight with Pacquiao without clearing it with the Filipino congressman first. But there aren’t a lot of options and Bradley would be a convenient, and willing, in-house possibility.
Though it’s a long way until May 5, start looking into flights. Barring any major upsets on Nov. 12, Pacquiao and Bradley are going to meet in Las Vegas on that night.
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