Since beating Manny Pacquiao via controversial split decision in June of last year, nothing has worked out well for Timothy Bradley.
The former consensus junior welterweight champ and current WBO welterweight titlist has been completely shut out of the championship picture and has been forced to watch proposed fight after proposed fight fall by the wayside.
It's possible that Bradley is paying the price for disparaging post-Pacquiao fight remarks regarding promoter Bob Arum's honesty. He also uncharacteristically hurled insulting comments at Pacquiao in an attempt to coax the Filipino icon into a rematch. Instead, Pacquiao completely turned his back on the idea of a second Bradley bout, instead opting to meet old rival, Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time.
Whether someone is intentionally sitting on his career or he just happens to be the victim of circumstance, Bradley has to be hoping for some sort of action and another solid payday. Top Rank has set aside a March date for Bradley's return, but an opponent has yet to be named.
Given Top Rank's preference for "in house" match-ups and non-Golden Boy dealings, here are six realistic options for Desert Storm's return to the ring:
The 23-year-old prospect has been rumored to be in line for a bout with Juan Manuel Marquez in April, but should that fall through; a match-up with Bradley could be an entertaining affair. Vargas is hungry, well-schooled, and undefeated. He'd be unlikely to upset the defending champ, but could definitely put up a solid effort.
Luis Carlos Abregu
Argentina's Abregu lost a relatively one-sided unanimous decision to Bradley in 2010, but is 5-0 since the high-profile defeat. In his two most recent wins, the heavy-handed Abregu stopped well-regarded prospect, Thomas Dulorme and well-traveled veteran, Marco Antonio Avendano. A return bout with Bradley could be billed as a quest for vengeance.
Accra, Ghana's Clottey has only fought once since his one-sided loss to Manny Pacquiao back in March of 2010. What better way to reintroduce Clottey to the world than with a shot at Bradley's world title? Clottey is good enough to put on a competitive performance and well-known enough to draw some interest.
When welterweight prospect, Mike Jones, was knocked out by Randall Bailey in a bid for the vacant IBF title, many were writing off the Philadelphia native's future prospects. So far, those critics have been right. Jones has yet to fight since his loss on the Pacquiao-Bradley undercard, but is still good enough and fresh enough to be salvaged. Bradley-Jones may be a tough sell to the general public, but in the absence of real, willing contenders, Mike Jones may be as good as it gets in terms of opposition for Bradley.
Ricky Hatton's younger brother is little more than a solid regional fighter and he has certainly suffered his share of high-profile losses. However, the tough Brit always puts up an earnest effort for his pay and, on name recognition alone, could generate some international buzz for the bout. Hatton is currently scheduled to face South African welterweight contender, Chris van Heerden, for a marginal title belt in March, but could probably be lured away for a main stage shot at Bradley.
Slovenia's Zaveck is a former IBF welterweight titlist and European champ. He has also had prior HBO exposure, losing via RTD 5 to Andre Berto in September of 2011. Zaveck was recently named no. 1 welterweight contender by the WBO, so selecting him would not only fill the March date with a solid opponent, but it would also satisfy Bradley's WBO mandatory defense.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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