Becoming a champion in most professionl sports means reaching the pinnacle of achievement and recognition. In boxing, a sport where there can be up to four major titlists in a given weight class, being a “champion” is many times a hollow trinket devoid of any real meaning. WBO junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley finds himself somewhere in the middle as a recognized skillful fighter in boxing circles that’s relatively unknown to the mainstream. That was supposed to change this past January when he fought then undefeated titlist Devon Alexander in a much-publicized unification bout. Despite Bradley winning, the bout was universally panned for its constant clinches, lack of sustained action, and a dubious head butt ending.
Nine months later, Timothy Bradley finds himself with a fresh slate. Now signed with Bob Arum’s powerful Top Rank promotion, Bradley will return to the ring this Saturday (November 12) against Joel Casamayor on the undercard of Pacquiao-Marquez III. A great performance could conceiveably lead to a bout with the winner of Pacquiao-Marquez, the type of big fight that Bradley’s has spent the last several years of his career chasing. Is the man nicknamed the “Desert Storm” finally ready for the big stage?
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: From the Alexander win, to sitting on the shelf with promotional issues, to now signing with Top Rank, 2011 has been an interesting year for you…
Timothy Bradley: This whole year has been up and down. At the end of the day there was light at the end of the tunnel. I’m with a great promotional company now. Having only fought once this year and nine months ago, I’m very anxious to get back in the ring and give my fight fans what they’ve been missing from me. In the last couple of years I’ve only fought twice in two years which is ridiculous. Now I think the ball will be rolling. I’m on one of the bioggest cards this year in Pacquiao-Marquez. It’s a great opportunity for me — I’m fighting against a veteran in Joel Casamayor. I think it’s going to be a great fight, especially if he comes to fight the way I think he is.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: What training have you done to make sure it stays an exciting and not ugly fight? Casamayor is known to throw headbutts and use other dirty tactics.
Bradley: I’ve definitely been working on not lunging in as much. I’ve been paying close attention to not leaning in with my punches. It’s just a habit of mine although I tuck my chin. Sometimes head clashes happen due to fighters bending down from shots or trying to grab and hold me. I want to keep my distance, using my reach and stop leaning straight up the middle to eliminate those head butts. Casamayor’s known for deliberately head butting people. It’s bound to happen due to me being a right hander and him a left hander. But I want it to happen as less as possible by letting the ref know in the beginning without getting off my game.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: I know you’ve just gotten with Top Rank, but what have you already noticed that’s different from when you were with Gary Shaw?
Bradley: Well, this company here markets their fighters very well. They have a huge marketing and production team. Gary Shaw had a great company, but I really missed out on the marketing and building the Bradley brand. I fought great fights and captured world titles, but not very many people know who I am outside of hardcore boxing fans. As far as the housewife getting together with friends to watch the Manny Pacquiao fight, those are the type of fans I want to attract on the 12th like “who is this Timothy guy? He’s pretty good; I wouldn’t mind seeing him against Manny or this guy.” I’m getting an opportunity to reach those fans. Gary Shaw couldn’t bring me to a stage like this. That’s what it boiled down to.
Me, I felt I outgrew them and needed someone to take me to the next level and that’s Top Rank. All the top fighters in world from Mayweather, Cotto, Margarito and De La Hoya were or are with Top Rank. They build superstars.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Where does the Top Rank machine see your future at? Even though this fight is at 140 where you are still champion, you have tested the waters at welterweight.
Bradley: 140 is my weight and that’s where I want to dominate. But if something big comes at 147 I’ll definitely make the jump up there. I’m short but I’m very thick. I got big bones [laughs]. 147 is perfect for me. People say I’m too small and short but I fought as high as 152 pounds as a amatuer fighting against guys that were 5’11 and 6 feet tall. I don’t have a problem with big guys and I have a chin on me. I got hit by Carlos Abregu whose a huge puncher and he didn’t faze me at all.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: With you at Top Rank and Amir Khan still with Golden Boy, is that a big fight that now has little chance of happening?
Bradley: You know what, I made it aware to my manager Cameron Dunkin that Khan’s a fight that I do want. Everyone on my team knows I want to fight that guy. It’s just a matter of making it happen.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: What’s your take on him fighting Lamont Peterson, a guy you were able to beat a few years back?
Bradley: Peterson is a tough fight for him. If he makes it look easy than he’s a good fighter. Peterson is gonna bring a lot to the table. He has a lot of heart, can take a punch, can box and comes to fight. He’s not stupid-minded — he can make decisions in the ring. I think he’s going to bring another dimension to Amir Khan. I absolutely doubt it that Amir Khan can stop this guy. If Amir Khan stops him then he’s a force to be reckoned with and I’ll have to respect him. Peterson has survived huge punchers like Victor Ortiz. I think this will actually be Amir Khan’s toughest opponent.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Is there a set fight plan already in place for you with Top Rank?
Bradley: There’s no set fight plan. They haven’t told me anything — I’m pretty much a fight by fight type of guy. Whoever is in my face I’ve got to get rid of them. Joel Casamayor is the only one on my list right now. Far as me having a couple of names, I just want to fight the best fighters out there. I want the Floyd Mayweathers and Manny Pacquiaos, the cream of crop. A lot of the guys they’ve been fighting don’t have the credentials I have. They’re either all over the hill or like when Mayweather fought a supposed young lion in Victor Ortiz. He beat Andre Berto and gets a shot at Mayweather? I thought that was funny and unbelievable. This guy quits in one fight, draws with Peterson, beats Berto and then gets a shot at Mayweather? I’m flabbergasted, you gotta be kidding me!
I’ve captured three world championships and never got the opportunity to fight any of these guys. I’ve fought against world champions and top guys. Andre Berto was a champion and great figher, but that’s only one guy. I just feel that I’m way overdue at the #1 spot Pound 4 Pound. I’ll get that by continuing to win and dominanting every opponent I get in the ring with. Sooner or later they’ll have to face me.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: The Devon Alexander fight got you a lot of media attention. Looking at it now, was it a fight that happened too soon?
Bradley: I’ve always said that. Everbody said I’m ducking Amir and Alexander. To be honest, I think the Amir Khan fight is way too soon just like the Alexander fight was too soon. Let it marinate a little bit. I know it’s a fight everyone wanted to see but I came to fight. I can’t make anyone else fight. I came to bring the house down on this guy. Obviously, Devon didn’t want any part of that. Honestly, besides winning a world title that fight didn’t do anything for our careers. They said this will create the next superstar in boxing. It nearly killed our careers [laughs].
We got so much criticism because everyone expected us to be trading back and forth. We’re both technical fighters. Even though I like to pressure guys I’m very technical and not reckless. He is too as a boxer-puncher. Our styles didn’t match up well. I came in there, fought hard and won. That’s the bottom line.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: For those new fans seeing you for the first time this Saturday (November 12), what can they expect in a Timothy Bradley fight?
Bradley: You’re going to see high intensity, speed, footwork and a great all-around fighter who’s determined to win every round on the 12th. The young hunger that’s looking for stardom. You won’t see anyone with the tenacity that I have going into the ring. I’m just a very intense and hungry guy. I’m looking to fight the best fighters in the world.
Timothy Bradley will defend his WBO junior welterweight title against Joel Casamayor on the undercard of Pacquiao-Marquez III (November 12). The Pacquiao-Marquez III world championship telecast, which begins at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View and will be available to more than 92 million pay-per-view homes. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. HBO Pay-Per-View, a division of Home Box Office, Inc., is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry. For Pacquiao-Marquez III fight week updates, log on to www.hbo.com