You are welcome to think about it as, and term it a “crossroads fight.”
But Timothy Bradley, the ex champ at 140 and 147, isn't going to agree with that characterization.
He fights younger gun Jessie Vargas on Saturday and I think all of us could be forgiven for at least contemplating that Bradley, the Indio, CA-based boxer, is at a place where the paths diverge, and starkly so.
A loss here, especially if he doesn't look A grade Bradley, could cement him into a new position, that of a fading ex champ, more so considered for trial-horse and steppingstone fights than title shots and the like.And no shame there, he's campaigned long and hard and eventually, the bodies of the best of them rebel against the rigors…
I talked to Bradley on Wednesday, late morning, and we chatted about what this fight means, and why he went off on Vargas' trainer Erik Morales on Tuesday. “Man, I'm ready to rock Saturday night,” the 31-1-1 hitter told me. “I'm fired up for the title, baby.” That much more so, it seems, because he's thinking the Mexican legend Morales has been yapping a bit much for his liking. “He's been talking crap about me, my team, mouthing off. Trying to rattle me, but it's got me fired up.”
Bradley said the taped mini-outburst, which you can see on the Top Rank Twitter timeline, came when a reporter got him coming out of his vehicle after a long drive from his home to his hotel. No time to empty bladder, stretch legs. Instead, bam, queries about the Morales yapping. So, he said, he responded. “Show some respect,” said Bradley, noting that he owns a rock-solid resume and deserves to be treated with decency. “I've paid my dues,” he said. Vargas should do his talking in the ring, he said.
As for this being a proverbial crossroads bout, nope, Bradley ain't buying that. He says that no matter if BoxRec says his last bout was a draw, he knows he won it. He has a lone loss on his record, to the all-time great Manny Pacquiao, so no, he knows what he's got left in the tank, the tank is topped off, and it's not time to label him a crossroads fighter. If he loses, he told me, THEN you can tag him at a crossroads. But not now…”I won my last fight, no doubt about it, and I'm going to win this one,” he declared. “I want to be the first to put a blemish on his record (26-0)! So, if you want to say this is a crossroads fight, I don't care, to me it's not, I've only lost to the best. I have been reading that stuff. Dude, it's not a crossroads to me.”
Message: don't put me there prematurely, have some respect for my resume, and tune in to see me prove I've trained my tail off, am not looking past Vargas, and my tank is full, I'm ready to snag another title.
See if his plan plays out, Saturday night, on HBO.
— Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank