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Hard-Earned Respect for Bradley

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)

By Steve Kim


At this time last year, Tim Bradley was in a rather dark mood. Coming off what should’ve been a career-changing victory over Manny Pacquiao in June of 2012, he became a boxing pariah, resolute and unapologetic in accepting the controversial split decision over the Filipino icon.
 
And soon, Bradley found out that fan is short for “fanatic.”
 
“I got mail, death threats, y’ know, phone calls, letters, ‘You didn’t win this fight; give the belt back.’ Phone calls, people calling, ‘GIVE THAT BELT BACK!’ and hanging up. I’m like, ‘How did these people get my number?’ It’s crazy some of the things people do,” said Bradley with a chuckle while surrounded by reporters at Tuesday afternoon’s press conference to announce his April 12th rematch against the “Pac-Man” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He can laugh now. It certainly wasn’t the case last year when the usually amiable and friendly Bradley began 2013 as a disgruntled individual.

He was that guy who won the Powerball Lotto and was still miserable.
 
“Yeah, I was at a bad point, a bad spot and last year, I felt going into the [Ruslan] Provodnikov fight that I had to do something to rekindle my relationship with the public and not just with boxing,” he explained of his mindset going into that bout that ended up winning Fight of the Year honors. “I really just wanted to show how tough I was and how I was a champion. A lot of people were, ‘You’re a fake champion; you’re not a champion.’ A lot of crazy things were being sent to my home. Just bad, it was horrible, man.”
 
Bradley admits it wasn’t just one entity in the sport he was angry with. His frustration was directed at the business of boxing in general.
 
“I think it was everything and there was a point after the [Pacquiao] fight I was like, ‘Man, all I did was get in there and fight and fight my fight and I’m getting all of this. I’m getting ridiculed, disrespected; I’m being demonized.’ It was a horrible point and I didn’t feel it was right,” said Bradley, whose wife, Monica says these pent-up frustrations played a part in what might have been a rather foolish approach against the hard-hitting Russian, “I think if we go back and look at the March 16th fight against Provodnikov, that can tell you what emotions went through him for all those months before that fight.”
 
To say the Provodnikov fight was grueling is an understatement. Bradley, concussed early on by the sledgehammer right hands of “The Siberian Rocky,” admits to not remembering large segments of the fight that took place in front of a rather small crowd at the Home Depot Center, which had no idea just what type of fight they were about to witness on that cool spring evening. At the end of the 12th and final round, Bradley simply ran out of steam and was sent to his knees and eventually saved by the bell. He didn’t so much beat Provodnikov but survived him.
 
It’s the type of bout that shortens careers and alters your long-term health. But on the flipside, the public had a newfound respect for Bradley, who had garnered a reputation as an effective-yet-boring boxer. So was it worth this price to gain the adulation of the fan-base, who had heckled him for months prior?
 
Bradley says, “It was worth it; I needed a fight like that. I mean, it’s ‘Fight of the Year.’ It’s going to be in history. I needed that fight. I needed to fight like that to gain respect from the fans.” He followed up that brutal game of checkers by winning a chess match against the Bobby Fischer of counterpunchers, Juan Manuel Marquez in October. It was a banner year for Bradley. “Absolutely. He emerged from the shadows and became a real top person in his own right,” said his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions, “so now he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
 
His trainer, Joel Diaz states, “2013 was a great year. Tim fought two tough fights. His confidence level went up; he really improved. He matured in the sport in every way and I think it prepared him for this one.” And Bradley comes into the rematch with Pacquiao a better fighter the second time around and perhaps with more career momentum. “Oh, definitely. He’s a way better fighter after beating Marquez, after going through that war with Ruslan. His confidence level is high. He walks tall with confidence. He’s got it all and he’s been in the ring with Manny already.”
 
Last year was so good for Bradley that he basically secured his financial future - win, lose or draw - on April 12th. Because he made the most sense for Pacquiao, he had a certain amount of leverage with Top Rank (with whom his promotional pact was running out) and with that, he not only got a career-high guarantee of $6 million for this return bout but an extension with lucrative minimums moving forward. Arum explained, “He understood when we talked about the extension, it was really an opportunity to become part of the HBO family and I think it’s very valuable for him now and for the future to be part of the HBO family.”
 
If Bradley should defeat Pacquiao in more legitimate fashion, he is unequivocally one of the premier prizefighters on the planet. One who basically cleaned out the junior welterweight division (in which he unified titles against the likes of Kendall Holt and Devon Alexander) and has other solid wins versus the Lamont Peterson and Luis Abregu. Even taking away the first fight with Pacquiao, this is one of the best résumés in all of boxing. And just now is he getting the hard-earned respect he yearns for.
 
“From the fans, from the media, it’s been a lot of respect,” said the 30-year old Bradley, who has a professional mark of 31-0 (12). “Everybody still has their criticisms and you will have that, period. I don’t expect anyone not to ever criticize me but the respect is there. The respect is there; they know that I can fight. Everybody knows that I can fight and that I’m tough to deal with.”
 
REMATCH
 
Early on, there does seem to be a pretty good buzz for this rematch, in fact, much more than Bradley-Pacquiao I.
 
“The first time, it was not considered a competitive fight; it was nine-to-one,” Arum pointed out. “If you want to know if a fight’s competitive, don’t listen to promoters. Don’t listen to anybody but oddsmakers.”
 
This time around, the fight is pretty close to a pick ‘em.
 
TIX
 
Here’s the info for Bradley-Pacquiao II tickets (which go on sale this afternoon at 1 p.m., ET):
 
There will be a total ticket limit of 12 per person with a limit of 10 per person at the $1,000, $800, $600, $400 and $250 price levels and a limit of two (2) per person at the $150 price level. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets will also be available for purchase at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.
 
The friendly neighborhood (Matt) Swider-Man, who often buys tickets to such events and keeps track of these things closely, had this series of tweets (@InSwiderBox) after shopping around for tickets:

“Looks like all lower bowl seats for PAC Bradley will be priced at $1000 when seats go on sale tomorrow”
 
“By comparison: Super Bowl champion Seahawks season tickets (10 GM including preseason) in the lower bowl? $760”
 
“Examples like this is why boxing is where it is...There’d be no “12th man” if you needed 10 grand to fork over for season tix”
 
Can anyone argue with that Twitter logic?
 
TNR
 
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabriel Montoya and Yours Truly:
 
 
BIKRAM FLURRIES
 
 
Here’s an interview our very own Radio Rahim did with Arum in which he stated that Juan Manuel Marquez would face the winner of Bradley-Pacquiao II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG8GvYqVxpo...HBO will premiere “Road to Chavez Jr./Vera II” on Monday, February 17th at 10:15 p.m., ET/PT. My reaction is, “They’re doing a ‘Road to Chavez Jr./Vera II’”?!...Vanes Martirosyan will face Luciano Cuello on March 21st at the Morongo Casino on ESPN2...It looks more and more like James Kirkland will not face Gennady Golovkin on April 26th at the Theater at Madison Square Garden but be in the semi-main that night on HBO...If Tracy McGrady is going to try baseball, I guess you can expect him to be on the 15-day DL an awful lot...Uh, yeah, Sochi sounds like a lot of fun for journalists covering it: http://deadspin.com/staying-in-sochi-is-a-hilarious-adventure-1515722114…Ican be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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