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Learning to appreciate Tim Bradley

Photo © German Villasenor
Photo © German Villasenor

By John J. Raspanti


"The toughest fight that I probably ever had was against Timothy Bradley...toughest fight of my life. Dude is just a monster...it was a high-paced fight and I just never forgot it." - Andre Ward on FightHype.

Timothy Bradley has engaged in 35 professional prize fights.

He’s lost once.

Bradley, who was born in Cathedral City, California, is not super quick or outrageously flashy.

He isn’t very tall, standing 5-foot-6.

Bradley doesn’t punch very hard, producing 12 knockouts in a career that began in 2004.


He’s a very good boxer, but nobody would confuse him with Guillermo Rigondeaux.

How then has the 31-year-old Bradley, with these disadvantages, managed to capture five world titles?

It’s simple.

Intestinal fortitude.

Last Saturday night, after sustaining a huge right hand from Jessie Vargas, he refused to go down.

He hung on to win the fight.

But for all that Bradley has left of himself in the ring; many still question his abilities.

He’s liked, but not loved. Fans respect him, but don’t turn out in droves to watch him fight.

This is a shame since Bradley has what it takes to be considered a very talented fighter.

He’s always in superior shape and he’ll take on any challengers.

It’s possible that his controversial victory over Manny Pacquiao hurt his standing among some boxing fans. We’ll look at that later.

At times it appears that he’s a frustrated slugger. Take a gander at his fight against “The Siberian Rocky,” Ruslan Provodnikov two years ago.

Everyone expected Bradley to out-box Provodnikov, but Bradley wants to give the boxing fans their money’s worth, sometimes to the detriment of his own health.

In the opening round, he came out swinging.

Provodnikov, a brawler, licked his lips. This was his type of fight. He absorbed Bradley’s punches without blinking. A huge right hand almost put Bradley down in round one.

Bradley quivered as the round ended.

Round two was even more of a nightmare. A few sneaky shots had Bradley woozy. Merely standing, with legs as wobbly as a toddler, was a testament to his will. (it was later reported that he sustained a concussion).

In round three, Bradley began to rally. Thirty seconds earlier he had looked out on his feet.

In the end, he had fought ten rounds with his brains rattled and his reflexes dulled, and still won the fight.

Bradley first gained notice seven years ago when he ventured to Nottingham, England to face WBC super lightweight champion Junior Wittier. Bradley entered the contest a 6-1 underdog. He was fighting a few hours from his opponents’ hometown. He dumped Witter in round six and went on to win the bout by split decision. Many at ringside felt the fight wasn’t that close.

10 months later he faced WBO champion Kendall Holt in Montreal, Canada. In round one, Holt landed a thundering left hook to the jaw. Bradley went down hard. He jumped up at the count of two and took a knee. Bradley had never been floored before. A second knockdown occurred in the last round, but Bradley had outworked Holt for most of the 12 round contest.

Bradley easily defeated future champion Lamont Peterson before facing undefeated WBC light welter champion Devon Alexander at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.

The fight was an ugly affair from the get go. Accidental head-butts caused the bout to be stopped after 10 rounds. Bradley was declared the winner by technical decision. Heavy criticism ensued. Some of it was justified. Bradley was criticized for using his head as another weapon. He was called a dirty fighter—though none of the head-butts appeared intentional. The fallout hurt Bradley. His winning performance was overlooked. A theme had been established.

The biggest fight of his career came in June 2012 when he met up with superstar Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, Nevada.

After 12 rounds, most ringsiders (and millions watching on pay-per-view) thought Pacquiao had won the fight. He had thrown and landed more punches. Nevertheless, two judges scored the match 115-113 for Bradley—while the other saw Pacquiao winning by the same score.

Initially, as the decision was being announced, Bradley looked surprised. Catcalls sounded throughout the arena. Bradley had "won" the fight, but he’d lost the war.

He didn’t help his cause by stating a few days after the fight that the decision in his favor was a fair one.

Death threats arrived in the mail.

Bradley’s greatest victory had turned into a nightmare. He disappeared for a while.

When he returned, he faced Provodnikov. He fought like he had something to prove. He slugged when he should have boxed.

Seven months later, he defeated future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez. The fight was close, and as has become the norm with a Bradley fight, somewhat controversial.

The stage was set for a rematch with Pacquiao. It went down 14 months ago. Pacquiao snapped Bradley’s winning streak at 31 by winning the match by decision. Bradley offered no excuses.

Last December, Bradley returned to Vegas to face Diego Chavez. After 12 rounds the fight was declared a draw.

Why are so many of Bradley’s fights hard to judge? The answer isn’t a simple one.

Bradley could easily be called a “cutie” in the ring. Since he doesn’t hit very hard, he makes up for it by staying busy. Some of his shots are hard to see. He’s also an excellent counter puncher. His cleverness in the ring can equally hurt and help him.

Some boxing fans begrudge Bradley his achievements.

Despite his flaws, Bradley’s greatest asset is his heart.

The man’s a fighter.


- TO WRITE FOR DOGHOUSE BOXING: E-mail John now at: marlow_58@hotmail.com
John J. Raspanti responds to all his emails. Please send all questions and comments to John at: marlow_58@hotmail.com


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