It was a jarring sight to see Timothy Bradley, the winner, arrive in a wheelchair at the news conference on June 9, 2012, following his disputed victory over Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Bradley had injured both of his feet during the bout with Pacquiao, and had to be wheeled into the news conference by an assistant.
What is stunning about that is not just that he was injured badly enough in a fight he won, but the reason he gave for the injuries to his feet.
Bradley, preparing for his April 12 rematch against Pacquiao at the MGM Grand, told Yahoo Sports that he believes the reason he injured his feet was because he wasn't wearing socks.
He wore ankle high Nike boxing shoes that night, but did not have on socks. It was a mistake, the WBO welterweight champion concedes, and one he won't make again.
"I didn't have the support I needed because I didn't wear any socks and the ring was very spongy," Bradley said. "It was very difficult to sit down [on my punches], and that's why my feet gave out, because my feet were moving around inside of my shoes."
It's almost unbelievable that Bradley, a pro of eight years at the time, found himself in that position. Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach were astounded when they heard of it later and said they never heard of that happening to anyone before.
Bradley said he went without socks while he was training at his gym, but said the difference was in the firmness of the mats.
"My ring has a lot harder surface, real firm, and I was able to do it," Bradley said. "I was able to do it and it felt really good and I tried it out. It worked. I was able to grab onto the canvas well and it was comfortable for me, so I decided to stick with it during the fight. I did it and when I got in there and felt that surface … Wow! The ring was really spongy, man.
"It was really spongy with a lot of padding. It was a very, very slow, slow ring. My feet were moving around in my shoe and eventually gave out on me. People don't understand that or believe that maybe, but it did. It's what happened."
Bradley said that wearing socks with boxing shoes normally keeps the foot very compact inside the shoe. The style of shoes he wore didn't offer a lot of support in the ankle area.
He said that during the fight, there was more give than he expected, largely because he did not have socks on and the ankle support wasn't good. As he tried to avoid Pacquiao's punches, he found that his feet were twisting and he wound up with fairly severe injuries.
"In the second round, I felt a pop in my left foot and it turns out there was ligament damage on the bottom of my foot, right where the arch is at," he said. "In the fourth round, I stepped back and I was favoring the one side too much and I twisted my [right] ankle. There was a lot of pushing, man, because the ring was so soft and so spongy. I had no support. With the sock, my foot would have been more compacted, but without it, the foot was more free and just moved around.
"That's what happened in the first fight. I'm going to wear socks in this rematch, I can tell you that."
He said his decision to not wear socks "changed the whole tide of that fight, because I was battling him and battling my feet."
He said that before he was injured, he was shocked by what he was seeing from Pacquiao.
He had heard so much about how great Pacquiao was during the build-up, and he said Pacquiao did not live up to the billing.
After the first round, Bradley walked back to his corner full of confidence he would win the fight. In the first round, boxers tend to use it to get a feel for the opponent and what the opponent is and isn't good at.
Bradley said his confidence soared after the first three minutes.
"Honestly, after the first round, I said to myself, 'This is the best fighter in the world? You serious?' " Bradley said. "I didn't feel he was that much more superior than I was. I was like, 'I'm right in here. I'm able to hit him. I can move on him.' I also felt like I was smarter than him. I felt I could control the fight a lot better if I'd have had my feet underneath me."
If he doesn't have his feet underneath him this time, it won't be for a lack of preparation. Going without socks is a mistake he won't make a second time.
It's just stunning that a veteran with his experience facing the biggest fight of his life would make an error in judgment like that.
"I don't know, man. I don't know," Bradley said when asked why he did it. "It was working [in camp] and I just stuck with it. But like I said, that was the last time. Never again."
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