The Cloudy, But Perhaps Bright, Future Of Tim Bradley
By: Sean Crose
So, once again Tim Bradley has lost to Manny Pacquiao. Bradley himself has essentially admitted as much, so there probably isn’t too much point arguing about. Yup, Manny is that good, folks. Still. People have good reason to wonder if the man’s really going to retire or not. Truth is, he’d probably beat every other welterweight out there at the moment – and that includes Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter or any other name you may have in mind. Again, he’s that good. In fact, the aging process seems to be remarkably slow as far as the guy is concerned.
What of Bradley, though? What of the man who most feel has lost three straight to his most notable opponent? Well, if there’s any justice the guy should be in line for induction into the Hall of Fame after he hangs up the gloves for good. His resume has been impressive, after all. Indeed, the only man who has ever been able to beat him is Pacquiao, one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair.
The conversation doesn’t end there, though. Here’s the truth – Bradley looked magnificent Saturday night, even in spite of the fact that he lost. Those paying attention could clearly see the man won his share of rounds. He just couldn’t overcome those two knockdowns he suffered at Pacquiao’s fists. The reality, however, is that Bradley was disciplined and game for the vast percentage of the evening.
Here was a man who gave Manny a challenge rather than a glorified sparing session. Who else can the same be said of in recent years? Mayweather, of course, and Marquez to be sure. But then who? No one. Looking at matters objectively, Bradley arguably did better against Pacquiao on Saturday than Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito did against the PacMan. And he most certainly did better than Ricky Hatton, Joshua Clottey and the (admittedly over the hill) Oscar De La Hoya. Telling stuff.
Where to from here for Bradley, though? That’s where things get cloudy. Let’s face it, the guy has taken some serious head trauma over the years…much of it needless. Add that to the stress of megafights (they must be incredibly stressful affairs) and the general wear and tear that being a true athlete – as opposed to say, a contemporary cherry picking fighter – brings and retirement may not seem like such a bad idea for this family man.
Then again, there’s that talent and skill to consider. If his brain and body haven’t suffered serious irreparable damage and he continues to fight in a disciplined manner under the tutelage of new trainer Teddy Atlas, there may be a bright future ahead for Bradley. Believe it. For while Pacquiao is indeed the greatest welterweight in the world, I’ve no doubt Bradley is the second greatest. And if Manny is truly retired, then that leaves Bradley at the top of the heap.
Ask yourself this, could any of today’s top welters besides Manny have beaten the Bradley of last weekend? Aside from Kell Brook the answer is no – and frankly, I suspect Bradley would beat the Englishman, too. Pacquiao isn’t a top level fighter, he’s a legitimately great fighter and legitimately great fighters come few and far between. Bradley’s faced him three times now and held his own. Sorry, but that’s a lot more telling that dominant wins over far less skilled foes.
Compare Bradley’s opponents to those of Brook, Porter, Garcia and Thurman. There’s simply no way the resumes of those men hold up against the California native’s. And let’s not forget that Bradley, unlike most of the others mentioned, makes sure to keep challenging himself with serious opposition. In other words, he has to be at his best each and every time out. Can the same be said of Garcia? Indeed, politics may be the only thing that keep Bradley from sweeping the entire lineup of young bucks out there at the moment.
Bradley just has to ask himself if it’s all worth it at this point. He’s done pretty well for himself as it is, after all.