It wasn’t a fight as much as it looked like two guys trying to avoid a bloody nose.
Their fight this past January was 10 rounds of hunt and peck, punch and duck, jab and grab. And Timothy Bradley knows it better than anyone. He‘s had to live with it long after the rest of us turned our backs and walked away.
The fight was against Devon Alexander and it didn’t live up to expectations. We weren’t looking for Hagler and Hearns or Ward and Gatti, but we didn‘t expect a sleeper.
Bradley, the undefeated WBO junior-welterweight champion out of Palm Springs, CA, mercifully won the fight when Alexander was forced to quit in the 10th round with a bad cut. Many of us missed the ending. We fell asleep early.
Though he won, that fight didn’t do a lot for Bradley’s blossoming career. It still gnaws at him, though he might tell you he’s moved on. But that’s the thing about bad nights. They don’t really leave until you replace them with a good night. And that’s what Bradley has been training for: a good night. Make that a spectacular night. He wants to erase that last performance and show the world that he’s better than that, that great fighters can look like mediocre fighters if styles clash. But they’re still great fighters.
“I wasn’t happy with my performance against Devon Alexander,” Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs) said on a conference call promoting his Nov. 12 fight against Cuban Joel Casamayor (38-5-1, 22 KOs), his first fight since beating Alexander. “I couldn’t make that guy fight. And sometimes that happens.”
Sometimes, we get a second chance and this is Bradley’s. He’s fighting Casamayor in the semi-main event headlined by the welterweight championship fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on HBO pay-per-view.
If Bradley was looking for a big stage to show off his talents, he found it.
“I’ve never fought on a big, mega-attraction like this in my whole career,” he said. “I‘m ready to shine. I‘m hungry to show the world who Timothy Bradley is. I’m ready to go. I could fight tomorrow.”
Too bad he has to wait a couple weeks. And he should use his time wisely. Casamayor isn’t one of those easy fights they set you up with just so you can get your confidence back. This is a former world champion who can put you on dizzy street with either hand. And he’s a southpaw.
“He’s a dangerous puncher and he’s a lefty and he likes to sneak that left in over the top,” Bradley said, proving he‘s done his homework. “I pretty much know this guy inside and out. I just have to get into the ring with him and basically figure him out in the first couple of rounds. But he’s a dangerous puncher. He has great boxing ability. Although he’s 40 years old, that doesn’t mean anything. I’m in there with a live lion. I’m a young lion and I feel I have what it takes to take this guy down. But he does have tremendous power.”
This is a little different from Bradley’s opening statements when he said nothing concerned him about Casamayor.
“It doesn’t matter what he does,” Bradley said. “I don’t care if he climbed Mount Everest. I don’t care what he’s doing, I don’t care what he’s taking, he’s not going to beat me on Nov. 12. Absolutely not. I’m prepared mentally, physically and spiritually. There is no way this guy is going to beat me. No way.”
Well, maybe he doesn’t need an easy fight to get his confidence back.
"Styles make fights,” he said. “I can box and I can brawl. I can mix it up. I always come ready and I always win. I try to win every round of every fight.”
His bravado isn’t put on. He's easy to believe. He’s got a new daughter (his first child) and a new promoter (Top Rank) and he’s got something to prove to maybe both himself and the people who have doubted him. He’s heard all the backlash from that last fight and he’ll tell you “Criticism doesn’t pay the bills.” And the happy father reminds you he has another mouth to feed.
“I can’t let myself (be influenced) by the hype,” he said of being on the big stage. “I have to fight my fight. That’s what it boils down to. I’m going to look good in there. I’m going to look great in there. It’s in the back of my head that I have to put on a great show, but I know that I will because I’ve prepared myself very well. It will show in the fight.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV