By Sean Crose
Okay, so we all agree Timothy Bradley wasn’t worthy of a whole lot of acclaim back in 2012. While he certainly didn’t deserve any disrespect, acclaim was another thing entirely. The guy won a decision that no one thought he deserved, after all, and lots of people were resentful.
That was then. This is now. And although most people still feel Pacquiao conquered Bradley that fateful June night, the man has finally earned the respect of fight fans. And if he doesn’t start getting it, then the fans, not Bradley, are to blame.
Look, the guy appeared to be some favored child who the “powers that be” had decided to unfairly gift when he first rose to infamy, but Bradley has proven himself to be anything but. See that fight he had with Ruslan Provodnikov? Two words describe Bradley’s performance in the ring that evening: HEART and SKILL. Bradley proved in that fight that he’s more than just a good boxer. He proved that he’s a warrior. A true warrior. And true warriors deserve their props.
The road to redemption didn’t end with Provodnikov, though. Next Bradley defeated Juan Manuel Marquez. The one and only Juan Manuel Marquez. The guy who knocked Pacquiao cold. Don’t think Bradley truly beat Pacquiao? Fine. That’s a perfectly legitimate opinion. He defeated the man who knocked Pacquiao out, though…and that says something.
So yeah, Bradley’s up there with the best right now. Perhaps he’ll battle Pacquiao again. I have to confess, though, that I hope he doesn’t. For Pacquiao, ironically enough, is the only guy out there at the moment who I’m comfortably certain could beat Bradley. The rest of the dance card, well, that’s another story.
Let’s just say boxing’s “cold war” between Top Rank and Showtime is proving beneficial to some potential Bradley foes. Maidana, Malignaggi, Guererro, Thurman….Mayweather. Is anyone perfectly content to say any of those guys could top Bradley right now? Sure, the smart money would be on Mayweather, but the smarter money wouldn’t risk betting on that one in the first place.
The problem for Bradley, as I see it, is there isn’t a whole lot of solid competition out there for him to choose from. Pacquiao aside, who else does Top Rank have to offer? The answer is pretty much “no one.” And that means the future is now fairly uncertain for the guy they call Desert Storm…unless he were to sign up with Golden Boy.
Yet there are some other options open to the man.
For one thing, Bradley can open his mouth and start yelling. Not literally, of course, but in a way which makes it clear he’s calling out some of Golden Boy’s golden boys. He may not land a fight with Mayweather (who I doubt would fight him anyway), but he could get the public behind him. Mayweather might be impervious to charges of ducking an opponent, but I know of few other fighters who are.
If that doesn’t work, however, (and let’s be honest here, it probably won’t), Bradley may be left with no other choice, but to move up in weight. This is a frightening proposition, as the man stands only 5’6. Still, it’s good to keep in mind Bradley beat Louis Abrego back in 2010 and Abrego stands a full 5’10. It’s not impossible, then, for Bradley to compete at a higher weight level. Hopefully, the extra pounds wouldn’t significantly slow the man down.
Of course if Pacquiao were to decide to step in the ring with him again, Bradley wouldn’t have to worry about moving up in weight at all. He would, however, have to the face the one man most people felt beat him fairly easily. And a loss to Pacquiao the second time around would prove devastating.
Though not necessarily career-defining. Floyd and Manny won’t be around forever, after all. Nor will boxing’s cold war. Bradley is still young, young enough to rise to the top once the old guard finally decides to pack it in.
And there’s no reason why, when all is said and done, the man shouldn’t be found standing upon boxing’s zenith.