PONTIAC, Mich. – Tim Bradley’s unanimous 10th-round technical decision over Devon Alexander Saturday had been dubbed the “Super Fight.”
It wasn’t. It was more like an elimination bout en route to the real Super Fights; the ones against either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. Those would command a Las Vegas stage and a much-hyped pay per view, not a small turnout in a converted, recently vacant football stadium and an HBO broadcast. Bradley against either of those guys gets fans salivating. It’s also what politics and ridiculousness keep preventing.
“Right now I’m aiming for Floyd Mayweather,” Bradley’s promoter, Gary Shaw, said after the light welterweight fight. And that’s all well and good because Bradley vs. Mayweather would be a titanic clash of styles and personalities.
“I think Mayweather is the single best fighter in the world that I’ve ever seen,” Shaw continued. “If I’m going to fight, why fight Avis when I can fight Hertz?”
The problem is that Mayweather is dealing with four felony charges – and four misdemeanors for good measure – in Las Vegas, mostly coming out of domestic disturbances last year. He faces up to 32 years in prison and no one has any idea if he’s inclined to fight right now, even if the legal system made it feasible. It’s not like he’s been very active of late anyway, he’s fought twice since December 2007.
As for Pacquiao, who is a heavy favorite to send the slowing Shane Mosley to the hospital in May, Shaw figures there’s almost no chance because Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, has appeared content to match up in-house bouts and cash huge checks. Good business for Arum's company, Top Rank. Not so much for the sport.
“Arum, all he wants to do is fight his fighters against his own; and he’s not getting Timmy,” Shaw said.
“He only fights against his own fighters. Why would you fight against Shane Mosley? Why would you fight against (Pacquiao’s last opponent Antonio) Margarito? If you feel you have the best fighters in the world, fight the best.”
The best fighters in the world fighting each other? What kind of sport does Gary Shaw think this is?
As if having Pacquiao and Mayweather avoid each other for years on end isn’t depressing enough, a third worthy opponent finally emerges and no one knows if he can get them in the ring either?
Instead late Saturday everyone was sort of conceding that the likely fallback position for Bradley would be Amir Khan, a 140-pound champion himself out of England. That’s a very good fight … for real fight fans. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it won’t move the needle in the general public. It isn’t very different than this one, a battle of dynamic, unbeaten champions that still failed to draw 5,000 paying customers in suburban Detroit.
“If he fights Mayweather (or) Pacquiao and beats them, that’s superstardom,” Shaw said. “I don’t think (Khan) makes him a superstar but it sure takes him close.”
Ideally, Bradley doesn’t have to do any more “getting close” fights. The waiting should be over, prime time should be now.
The North Palm Springs, Calif. native moved to 27-0 on Saturday. He not only handed Alexander (21-1) his first loss, he took his WBC light welterweight belt to add to his own collection.
Bradley was the better, faster and stronger man. It was a good performance even if the fight featured a less than satisfying end – a head clash that left Alexander either unable or unwilling to continue (depends on your point of view).
It doesn’t matter now. The Alexander camp was talking up a rematch clause in the contract but that’s at HBO’s discretion so you can all but forget that one for the time being.
“We’ll sit down and have some discussions with Gary and see what he’s thinking,” HBO’s Ross Greenburg said.
Well, Gary is thinking Mayweather unless someone can get Manny to bite.
“Manny, well, Manny obviously he’s busy,” Greenburg said. “I don’t know. You also have to consider Mayweather if you’re talking big fight. I don’t (know what’s going on with Mayweather’s legal issues). He will fight again though.”
We hope. Or certainly Bradley does.
“I said I would be the first man to beat Mayweather,” Bradley said. “I have it on video after my seventh or eighth fight. I said if Mayweather is around, I’ll be the first man to beat him. Now, that’s a whole lot of words after seven fights. Mayweather is the king. He’s the king of boxing right now. It’d be a tough fight. That guy’s clever.”
So how would that fight play out?
“He (would stay) on the outside and eventually I think he’d start coming to me, try to bring the pressure, try to bang my body, try to outwit me with his smarts. I think that’s how it’d go. I think I’d be there banging on him and banging on him and banging on him on the ropes.
“I’ve got a plan on how to beat Mayweather. I’ve just got to execute it.”
As for Pacquiao, Bradley has already begun reading a book about the Filipino.
“I know where he gets his determination from. (It’s from) where he came from (a destitute childhood),” Bradley said. “When you feel you’re going into battle, you’ve got to be ready. I like to know a little history of my opponents. So he had a book out, I’m reading it. I want to know exactly where he came from, why he thinks the way he thinks and why he does what he does.”
Bradley is a gold mine of a product. He’s the All-American kid, well-spoken, polite and respectful. He's an oddity in the fight game if only because he has no visible tattoos. He’s not only married with children, he holds his training camps at home so he can maintain his normal family duties – “I still pick up my kids at school.”
He’s one starring role in HBO's “24/7” series from becoming a mainstream sensation. For that, though, he needs Manny or Floyd. If they aren’t going to fight each other, then how about one of them fights Bradley? He’s already got his mind games ready for Mayweather.
“I think Floyd talks because he thinks he needs to feel superior and he needs that confidence,” Bradley said. “Floyd doubts himself.”
Floyd Mayweather doubts himself? Sure Bradley said; it’s obvious with the money he’s left on the table by not fighting.
“Why won’t he fight Manny?” Bradley said. “Why won’t he fight Manny?”
Good question. Why won’t anyone fight anyone?
Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports national columnist.
- Floyd Mayweather
- Manny Pacquiao