By: Sean Crose
I’ve been writing about this sport for a while now and I’ve never seen a fighter go from thoroughly unpopular to popular and respected like Tim Bradley had. Bradley, who went by the nickname “Desert Storm,” was known by serious fight followers for years when he won a shocking decision over the great Manny Pacquiao back in 2012, but few others. The victory, which was controversial to say the least, led Bradley and his family to receive a backlash that no professional fighter – much less a professional fighter’s relatives – deserves. Still, the Californian persisted. The following March, Bradley went up against the feared Ruslan Provodnikov – and brawled his way to a brutal victory.
It was as if all was forgiven in the matter of twelve grueling rounds. People may not have thought Bradley deserved the win over Pacquiao, but no one could deny the man had George Patton levels of blood and guts. From there, Bradley went on to face the great Juan Manuel Marquez, who he bested by decision. And after that, it was time to face Pacquiao again. Bradley lost soundly to the Filipino legend that time around, but the days of Bradley being distained were gone. Here, win lose, or draw, was a man who would let it all hang out in the ring. Bradley was, to be sure, respected by boxing’s fan base. And he remained respected.
Later fights included a controversial draw against Diego Chaves – though this time Bradley wasn’t accused of being the recipient of incompetent judging – a decision win over Jessie Vargas and a surprising stoppage over Brandon Rios. Finally, in 2016, Bradley faced Manny Pacquiao for a third and final time. Once again, Bradley lost decisively. Yet the second loss in a row to Pacquiao still didn’t tarnish the man’s image. Suffice to say, Bradley never fought again, instead opting to be a broadcaster – a job he’s also respected at.
Now, over a decade after that shocking and controversial win over Pacquiao, word has arrived that Bradley will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2023. It’s all very well deserved. Aside from facing the likes of Pacquiao, Provodnikov, Marquez and others, the man held numerous world titles in two weight divisions and never, stepped away from a challenge, which was most definitely not the tend when Bradley plied his trade in the ring. There’s a reason fans of the sport became fans of Tim Bradley.
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