According to a source, part of Bradley’s two-fight pact to face Devon Alexander (where both boxers were guaranteed return dates on the network for facing each other on January 29th) was that the winner would have one of four options: Marcos Maidana, Andre Berto, Khan or a rematch with a license fee of around $1.5 million. Bradley was only offered Khan.
"So I’m just standing by my guns and saying, ’Hey, you guys gotta deliver by June 30th; I’m ready to go.’ July 23rd is out of my contract. So that’s pretty much in a nutshell why I’m not taking the fight at this moment. Amir Khan, I think the fight could be bigger if we fought a little bit later. I know I wanted the fight but when I sit back and I really realize what happened with Devon Alexander, everyone really wanted this fight and I didn’t want the fight. When the fight happened, it wasn’t what everybody expected it to be because it was too soon. This is another fight that I feel is too soon. I feel that if we let it marinate a little bit longer- because me and Amir Khan are going to have to fight, we’re going to do it; we’ll get it on- but at this very moment, everything’s pretty much been, ’Well, Tim, you gotta fight on this date; we gotta do this. Timmy you gotta do that.’
"Well, OK, alright, well, you have till June 30th to get all this done. That’s what it boils down to. It boils down to that, June 30th."
Another factor here is that Bradley is represented by Thompson Boxing Promotions and television packager Gary Shaw, whose contracts are coming to an end. In his view, he is being set up to be a B-side to Khan and Golden Boy (who just recently agreed to a new four-fight deal with HBO) as they make one last score.
"I think that’s what it is; I honestly do feel that way," said Bradley, who has a mark of 27-0 with 11 KOs. "I feel that they are just serving me up. Amir Khan’s going to pretty much be the headliner in our fight; I’m pretty much going to be the challenger. That makes no sense to me. I was the challenger when I fought Devon, as well, and I’m going to be the challenger here. I took the Devon fight because I was forced into it. I really didn’t want the fight; everybody knows that but it happened. It is what it is. We look back at it; it wasn’t as great as everybody thought it should’ve been. This is another situation where I feel the exact same way. Same exact thing."
The fight in Pontiac was a huge disappointment. Not only did it bomb at the box-office at that relic, the Silverdome, it failed to deliver a star- as promised by the network- which helped microwave that match-up. Bradley was led to believe that he would have more choices going forward and not just boxed into one fight. In an ironic but not-too-uncommon twist for HBO, Alexander (in another example of why perhaps losing sometimes on this network is better than actually winning) gets to face Lucas Matthysse on June 25th for over a million dollars.
"There should be a couple of options. I feel that there was never a plan. I mean, let’s see, after I won the [WBC] world championship [the first time], I fought against Edner Cherry, then I went on there to Canada. I mean, everybody wants to know why I’m not known. I went over to Canada to fight against Kendall Holt- two Americans in Canada," pointed out Bradley. "I won that one; after that fight, I was promised the world after that fight. I was promised the world, ’Well, Tim if you win this fight, you don’t even know what we got going on for you. You don’t even know. We got something in store for you.’ And after I win the fights, it was like, OK, they’re looking for opponents. I thought they had a plan? Where’s the plan at? Where’s the big ol’, ’Ewwww, I can’t believe you guys got this for me.’?
"So then I end up fighting against Nate Campbell; alright, everyone knows what happened in that fight. After that, I had to fight against Lamont Peterson. There was really no plan. There was no thought into this; it was just, ’Let’s take this fighter; our plan didn’t work out like [it] should’ve.’ And for this one, after the Alexander fight, I mean, who was I supposed to fight?"
Well, it turns out Khan and only Khan, it seems.
One of the problems facing Bradley is that since December of 2009 (where he outpointed Peterson), he has fought all of twice. Last year, he performed just once, decisioning Carlos Abregu in a welterweight contest. At age 27- what should be his physical prime- he has become a part-time prizefighter. Other than that, Bradley’s been forced to wait on the sidelines for months as he has had to wait for open dates on HBO. In many ways, he is the classic, modern-day prizefighter, perhaps overpaid by traditional standards (where market value was determined by how well you drew at the gate) and fighting only- and only- when your television packager gets a date and a license fee from a network. There’s no doubt that Bradley has made a nice living the past few years; you won’t need to throw him any benefit dinners anytime soon but it has also gave him a limited ceiling in terms of ever being a true star or attraction.
This formula has made it increasingly difficult to create them, as fighters perform so infrequently and in such faraway locales where they’re offered free rooms and comp meals (sometimes even at the luxurious employees’ lounge). Bradley has been both a beneficiary and victim of this current system.
On this issue of his inability to put asses in the seats, Bradley states, "A lot of people say I’m not a ticket seller; I can’t even sell-out in my hometown. I mean, did any of my promoters come out here and do a rally and rally the people up? I’ve never gotten anything here in my hometown. No one really cared but c’mon, fighting in Mississippi? C’mon, fighting in England, fighting in Canada? I mean, c’mon, that makes no sense to me. That’s why you say nobody knows me."
To be fair, those bouts against Junior Witter in Nottingham, England (where Bradley originally won the WBC strap) and his unification tilt against Holt in Montreal fit in those destinations. And to be blunt, where else were those fights going to take place? Through 2007 till 2009, Bradley was moved well; he was kept active, fighting in significant bouts and moving up the ladder. But recently, his profile has stagnated, though no fault of his own, says Bradley, who believes he’s done his part. "It’s the promoter’s job to get the fans and get everybody to know me and get the general boxing fan and the doctors and lawyers, just get the people to know who I am. It’s the promoter’s job."
There have been rumors that perhaps Bradley will sign on with Top Rank and eventually face Manny Pacquiao but Bradley isn’t looking that far ahead. Right now, he’s a fighter without a fight.
"Like I said, I’m waiting on a fight for June 30th. June 30th, I’m supposed to fight; it’s in my contract. June 30th is the deadline; I’m sticking by it and that’s the bottom line but I’m just waiting to hear back from my promoters, June 30th. I didn’t have any options on any opponents; the only opponents they threw at me was Amir Khan and that was it. I’m waiting on options," said Bradley, who added, "One important factor is that my contract was supposed to end May 10th, OK? I’m doing them a favor extending my contract to June 30th. OK, I did them a favor. They put that in the contract when I fought Devon Alexander.
"So in a nutshell, it’s on them. It’s on them."
On the flipside, Khan is still fighting on July 23rd, as that side has moved on. "No question about it," said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who confirmed that Robert Guerrero just might be the leading contender to land this fight.
They need to act relatively quickly, as this promotion is now less than two months away.
"I’m waiting to hear back from the Khans to see what they want to do. I think it comes down to two names which are available and that is [Zab] Judah or Robert Guerrero and then there’s an interesting additional twist. Last week, the WBA informed us that by September 11th, there’s going to be a mandatory due for Amir and that’s going to be- guess who? Marcos Maidana."
Last December, Khan and Maidana participated in one of the best scraps of 2010, which was won by Khan.
"I have to tell you that surprised me a little bit because he just fought him," said Schaefer. "So I have to discuss that with the ’BA and with our matchmakers, as well, because I mean, I don’t mind eventually having a rematch but let Maidana have a few fights and let Khan have a few fights and then maybe they’ll meet again. So that’s my take on that."
As for Bradley turning down the Khan fight, Schaefer told Maxboxing, "I was surprised and obviously one has to wonder why because it seems based on statements he made and his team made, that he was on board and he must’ve known what the money was because why would he otherwise be on board? I remember he made statements to the press that he’ll be fighting Khan; he even mentioned July 23rd at Mandalay Bay and we were just basically waiting for Amir winning against [Paul] McCloskey, which he did.
"And then suddenly for him to pull out, I mean, obviously it’s very surprising. It’s surprising to a lot of people. Some people have said, ’Well, he’s afraid of Amir.’ I refuse to believe that. There must be another reason and you know what people are saying. I don’t have to get into it."
A few random thoughts on this whole snafu...
- HBO could’ve just saved themselves a lot of trouble if they would not leave trapdoors or promise boxers return engagements on the network (regardless of the results of their fights). It’s one thing if you’re a Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, who are bona fide stars, but just about everyone else has really no leverage to demand anything else but a singular appearance on their airwaves. Instead, you have this situation with Bradley and perhaps Bernard Hopkins getting boxed into a fight with Chad Dawson. The tornadoes ripping through the Midwest are natural disasters; these here are HBO-mandated disasters.
- It’s funny but again, like Bradley-Alexander, I feel Bradley-Khan is another fight that was being made prematurely. Yeah, this match-up might appeal to the hardcore- who believe anytime The Ring magazine or the like has two fighters rated at the top means it’s a “big fight”- but I haven’t talked to anyone who thinks that Bradley-Khan in the middle of summer in Vegas sells 4,000 legitimate tickets. It’s a huge event in the UK, not so much in the U.S.A.
- How ‘bout this compromise because it’s clear that Bradley’s side and his TV packager are getting along about as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver: he fulfills his contract and has one more bout; everybody gets paid and then walks away in separate directions?
- I might be in the minority but as it relates to Khan, I’d like to see him face Zab Judah next. Say what you will but Judah has the best résumé at 140 pounds among all the realistic possibilities and he currently holds a major title. As for Maidana, I agree with Schaefer; I wouldn’t mind some mixture and variety before they go at it again. As for “The Ghost,” certainly it’s not a bad fight but if I’m not mistaken, has Guerrero ever had a major fight above 135 pounds?
I get the sense that it will be Guerrero. I think he might come the cheapest and Golden Boy wants to keep this in-house.
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