It’s not Timothy Bradley’s fault.
It’s not his fault that his heavily hyped showdown with Devon Alexander in January of 2011 turned out to be a dud that ended up with him winning a technical decision. He did what he had to do to win the fight, but didn’t get the respect he felt like he deserved.
It’s not his fault that he handed Manny Pacquiao his first loss in seven years despite it being a highly controversial split decision that many thought he didn’t earn. All Bradley could do was fight the way he knew how. He had no control over how the judges saw the fight. Nevertheless, he was called a fake champion and didn’t get the respect that someone who defeated Pacquiao should command.
Now he’s fighting Juan Manuel Marquez on October 12 in Las Vegas, the man who left Pacquiao laying face down in a heap last November. If he beats Marquez, what can they say then?
“I think that after beating Marquez I cannot be denied,” Bradley says about the lack of respect that he’s received despite being unbeaten at 30-0. “I’m one of the best fighters in the world and they will have to give me my respect. They have to put me on their best pound for pound fighter lists if they haven’t already.”
It’s a strange position to be in if you are Indio, California’s Timothy Bradley. He’s worked so hard to this point with victories over the aforementioned Pacquiao and Alexander as well as former champions Joel Casamayor, Lamont Peterson and Kendall Holt. Yet he didn’t get the respect from fans and critics until he fought Ruslan Provodnikov in a brutal back and forth war that forced him to dig deep down inside to pull off the win. The fight left a lasting impression on fight fans, but almost irreversible consequences on Bradley as he suffered with slurred speech and concussion symptoms for over a month. It was a savage fight that Bradley fought purposefully with a chip on his shoulder. But despite the excitement the fight provided, Bradley doesn’t think he’ll employ the same strategy against Marquez.
“When I go into a fight I never know what’s going to happen,” Bradley says. “I’m prepared for everything but there are certain parts of me that just come out. But I think the smartest thing in this fight is to be smart. Provodnikov is great but Marquez is excellent and a veteran. He’s very dangerous.”
Marquez may be a very tantalizing dish, but many question why Bradley didn’t choose to have a rematch with Manny Pacquiao considering the highly controversial nature of their first fight. Wouldn’t it make more sense to prove to the world that the first win wasn’t a fluke? But, for Bradley, the Pacquaio rematch can wait.
“I figured, let’s keep going towards the light and let’s face a new challenge in Marquez before he gets out, and beat him,” Bradley says. “Then maybe we can go back and revisit the dark side in Manny Pacquaio. I want to shine and I can do that by having two guys on my resume who are by far the best fighters in the world, hall-of-famers, and if I could beat both of these guys I would be considered one of the best.”
The skeptics have their doubts about Bradley. He’s not a knockout artist nor is he a defensive specialist like Floyd Mayweather. He doesn’t do anything great, but he does everything very, very well. Because of that, and the struggles he had against Provodnikov, he knows he’s the underdog. But he’s fine with that.
“Everyone remembers when he knocked out Pacquiao,” says the WBO welterweight champion. “And everyone remembers that war with Ruslan Provodnikov. A lot of people think I am going to be wild and go down and people have to see if I still have it or not. Of course they are going for the veteran, the guy that knocked out Pacquiao so of course they are going to bet on him to win.
“I don’t mind being the underdog,” he continues. “I like it. I like taking people’s money and I’ll take it again. People can doubt me and doubt me and that’s OK but soon they will get sick of losing their money.”
Facing the man who starched Pacquiao is the final step to getting his just due. Should Bradley beat Marquez, the naysayers will have to finally tip their cap. They haven’t for 31 fights so perhaps the 32nd will do the trick. Either way, Bradley feels that his time is now and Marquez can’t do anything to stop him.
“Man, I am going to whoop his ass and the judges are going to give me the fight. Just like the U.S. government I am going to shut down Juan Manuel Márquez on October 12th.”
Bradley vs. Marques takes place Sat., Oct. 12 live on pay-per-view beginning at 9pm ET/6pm PT.