After spending several years off-Broadway, Timothy Bradley finally hits the big stage Friday when he faces Colombia’s Jaime Rangel.
Bradley, aka Desert Storm, makes his first appearance on a televised boxing show when he faces Rangel (30-9-1) at the Chumash Casino in a junior welterweight bout. It will be televised by Showtime at 11 PM ET/PT.
“It’s been great fighting in Ontario but I can’t wait to fight on television,” said Bradley (16-0). “It’s a dream come true.”
Appearing in front of millions can be a daunting and terrifying experience for many, especially after fighting in front of a cozy 2,000 for the past two years, but Indio’s best prizefighter has been prepping for this breakout moment since he first put on boxing gloves as a child.
“I grew up watching the great fighters on television,” said Bradley, 23, who admired Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya among others.
It’s only been two years since Bradley stepped in the ring for his first professional bout in Corona. Since then he’s pummeled and boxed his way to his current ranking of number 11 by the WBC, having just leapt past Demetrius Hopkins and Paulie Malignaggi.
“We’re very confident about Timothy,” said Alex Camponovo, the matchmaker for Thompson Promotions.
That’s what happens when you destroy a fighter (Alfonso Sanchez) who withstood five rounds with number one welterweight sensation Paul “The Punisher” Williams, but who couldn’t last a single round against Bradley. Sanchez didn’t expect the much smaller Bradley to steamroll him – especially when The Punisher couldn’t do it.
“I brought it on top first then I put it to his body and it was over,” Bradley said. “It was a surprise. I didn’t know what to expect from him. He had a lot of experience.”
His destruction of Mexico’s Sanchez turned a lot of heads. Now the name Timothy Bradley making boxing’s power brokers sit up and take notice.
Gary Shaw Productions recently signed a co-promotion deal with Thompson Promotions for the right to maneuver Bradley. Shaw currently has a deal with Showtime and has world champions like Rafael Marquez and Vic Darchinyan under his wing. Is Bradley Gary Shaw’s next world champion?
Joel Diaz, a former ranked contender whose brothers Julio and Antonio are household names in the boxing world, is Bradley’s trainer and has guided him through the rough terrain of no-name brutes. Though most of Bradley’s prior opponents might not stir a rise of recognition, among boxing insiders it’s similar to racing off-road. You don’t know what to expect.
“My toughest fight was against (Jorge) Padilla,” Bradley recalled. “I hit him with everything and that dude kept coming.”
But the change from amateur star to pro rookie was an even more humbling experience.
“I had to learn everything again, man,” said Bradley, adding that his trainer Diaz recommended he start with relearning a professional jab. “For three weeks all I did was learn to jab like a pro.”
As an amateur Bradley won numerous amateur titles with his speed and quick reflexes. As a professional, he quickly learned that quick taps and showy foot movement won’t win the fans’ or judges’ favor. It’s power and defense that count.
“Joel taught me that you need to get an opponent’s respect or he’ll walk right through you,” said Bradley.
The five-foot-six-inch junior welterweight transformed himself from a hit and run amateur into a professional fighting machine capable of trading inside or out. Over time he’s amassed a large fan following consisting of many Latino fans.
“You got to be able to hurt these guys,” Bradley says of his professional opposition.
Diaz, who was taught by Coachella’s famed trainer Lee Espinosa, passed his knowledge to Bradley, and little by little the amateur habits were chipped away like crusting paint and coated with a new hard-hitting and effective pro style.
“He works hard all of the time,” said Diaz. “Timothy has improved a lot. There are a lot of guys with championship belts out there that I know Tim can beat.”
Though most of his opponents have had a height advantage, Bradley’s ability to bore inside and keep within striking distance has been his trademark so far. Can he do it at the elite level in front of a national audience?
“It’s what I’ve been waiting for,” Bradley says.