By Kirk Jackson
Rewind the clock back three years, Timothy Bradley sporting a professional record of 28-0 (12 KO’s), was sitting on top of the world.
Bradley had just come off his biggest victory to date, albeit controversial, over the highly esteemed, future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao dropping his record to 54-4-2 (37 KO’s).
Much has changed since then.
Success would be a continuing theme for the “Desert Storm” warrior in 2013. Bradley engaged in a Rocky-esque life and death battle with Ruslan Provodnikov, escaping with a highly entertaining, unanimous decision.
He followed up that performance with a quintessential split decision victory over long-time Pacquiao rival and Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez.
After his victory over Marquez however, things took a turn for the worse.
In April of 2014, Bradley agreed to a rematch with Pacquiao, in which was viewed by many as an attempt of sorts of redemption for Bradley. Unfortunately for Bradley, he lost a unanimous decision to Pacquiao.
Hampered slightly by injury, Bradley truly lost the fight because of his inability to follow the game plan, choosing to brawl and attempting to knock out Pacquiao. Out-brawling Pacquiao was just simply not going to happen.
Bradley capped off the year fighting Diego Chaves to a highly disputed and controversial draw.
Now, Bradley is in line to face Jessie Vargas 26-0 (9 KO’s) this Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Ca.
Vargas, appears to be a fighter on the rise, a fighter Top Rank is pushing to potentially be one of their staple fighters. And lately, it appears Bradley has not received much recognition or attention.
You would think a fighter who has the distinction of beating Pacquiao and Marquez would be involved in bigger fights, or would be promoted to a greater extent.
Vargas and Chaves are good fighters, but they’re not household names or upper echelon elite fighters as of yet. That can all change of course.
But it appears Bradley’s stock may be plummeting, as opposed to rising.
There may have been designs by Top Rank for Bradley to ascend to pay-per-view superstardom, especially leading up to his first bout with Pacquiao. These aspirations never manifested however.
There was a great deal of backlash from the results of the first Bradley-Pacquiao event, with Bradley erroneously receiving the blunt end of the criticisms and backlash.
He has never recovered from the backlash, as it only intensified after he beat Provodnikov, as many fans believed Bradley the recipient of another gift decision, despite clearly out boxing Provodnikov and displaying an enormous amount of courage.
Bradley has never truly received well deserved respect from the fans and from some analysts and proclaimed “Experts.”
His career resembles that of great heavyweight champion Larry Holmes or that of great middleweight champion Marvin Hagler.
Fighters who were disrespected and looked over for a great period of their respective careers, despite facing and defeating the best fighters.
Unfortunately, despite the tenacity and heart Bradley has displayed in most of his fights, he is not regarded as a “PPV star” and is not deemed as must see television.
Sadly, he does not warrant the same adulation of a Gennady Golovkin and does not draw attention like Adrien Broner.
Theoretically, if Bradley is to defeat Vargas, where does he go from there? Top Rank (Bradley’s promotional company) is running out of welterweight options.
Although Bradley is fighting Vargas for the interim WBO welterweight world title, a loss for Bradley can certainly demote the former four time champion to gate keeper status.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank