By Sean Crose
Quick, name one welterweight who can beat Timothy Bradley who isn’t named Floyd or Manny.
Not so easy to do, is it?
The truth is that Timothy Bradley is one of the best fighters today operating in boxing’s current elite division – which means he’s one of the best fighters today operating in the entire sport. Yet the guy gets no respect. None whatsoever.
It seems that people conveniently forget the fact that Bradley’s hit list is pretty impressive. Lamont Peterson? Bradley beat him. Juan Manuel Marquez? Bradley beat him. Ruslan Provodnikov? Bradley beat him. After a certain point one has to wonder why the man is still noted primarily for the one victory most feel he didn’t deserve – his catastrophic decision win over Manny Pacquiao in 2012.
Sure, Pacquiao came back and beat Bradley soundly this past spring, but this is Pacquiao were talking about here, a fighter who will still probably be discussed after most of us are no longer of this world. Why, one may well ask, is Canelo Alvarez hailed as the future of boxing, while Bradley is treated like that cousin everyone wishes wouldn’t show up at Thanksgiving?
The term “fan base” has something to do with it, of course. As does the term “knockout ratio.” Unlike Canelo, Bradley doesn’t have much of either. Still, no one could argue Bradley isn’t as gutsy as Canelo is. What’s more, Bradley is probably the better fighter of the two.
While no one can argue that Canelo is unworthy of the attention he receives, there’s no excuse for why Bradley gets so little love. He’s talented (just ask Marquez), he’s brave (just ask Provodnikov) and he’s willing to be a good sport and admit when he’s been bested (just ask anyone he watched the man be gracious in defeat after the second Pacquiao fight).
Indeed, it’s puzzling to see people still buzz over the obnoxious Adrien Broner, while Bradley – a man who would probably make Broner look ridiculous in the ring – continues to inspire nothing but yawns. Upon reflection, it probably has to do with the fact that Bradley is neither a great hitter nor a great slickster. What’s more, the guy is neither a jerk, nor a teddy bear. He’s just a decent dude who does his job well.
And in the America of Kim and Kanye, the Jimmy Stewart persona just doesn’t cut it.
Here’s the thing, though: the odds at this point are that Bradley isn’t going anywhere.
One analyst put it succinctly when he stated that boxers who keep winning can’t be denied forever. That’s true. Sam Langford, who was quite possibly the most avoided great fighter in history, is still written about glowingly, despite the fact that he never got a heavyweight title shot.
What’s more, this is the welterweight division we’re talking about. Bradley can be avoided, but for how long before the public starts crying BS? And – believe it – the public will call BS after a certain point. Maybe fighters like Danny Garcia, who’s said to be ready to make the jump to welterweight, don’t’ care. But they should.
The truth is that the only way for Bradley to disappear from the scene is for the man to be beaten soundly by someone who isn’t well on his way to the Hall of Fame. And that’s not likely to happen.
The Garcias, Kell Brooks and Keith Thurmans of the world would do well to keep that in mind – especially now that word is out that Pacquiao may go back down to junior welterweight.
Like it or not, Timothy Bradley is probably a name these men are going to keep on hearing, a name that just won’t go away. And that’s how it should be.
Boxing is ultimately a sport, after all, not a popularity contest.