Ray Bradley's heart was in his throat when his son was doing what he did against Ruslan Provodnikov last year, in a bout the BWAA voted Fight of the Year for 2013, but which left Tim Bradley concussed and diminished for months afterward.
"What the hell are you doing?" Ray told me he was thinking while watching Tim fight in a "fan friendly," but brain-unfriendly manner against the rugged Russian, who never met a trade he didn't like.
"Stick and move" is what Ray wanted; an audition for a role in the next "Rocky" movie is what he was seeing.
Ray, who co-trains Tim with Joel Diaz, told me he felt his Mick, screaming at Rocky, "Get out of there!" as his kid was trapped in a corner, and Creed, er, Ruslan was basting him with all sorts of launches.
So, let's talk about that night, that fight on March 16, 2013, which will be in the spotlight May 1, at the Boxing Writers Association of America dinner, to be held at the MGM, days away from the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana bout.
Was Tim trying to prove something to himself, or to the fans, or both, against Provodnikov? "Both," the father-trainer told me. "About equal. That night, Tim was going through a dark cloud, a moment in his life. He felt in his heart, that's how he had to come out and fight. I respected that decision the whole way."
Me, I see a new Bradley. Not 100%, because building blocks were there, but there is now a serenity, a comfort level I can read on his face and in his body language, which tells me that in his last fight, against Juan Manuel Marquez last October, in which he outboxed a master boxer, he fully comprehended the depth of his talent. More mature, more relaxed. Ray Bradley told me that's the Tim he's always seen, though.
"It's the same kid, nothing different," he said.Indeed, the father said he likes Tim as the number two boxer, pound for pound, right now, behind only Floyd Mayweather. Andre Ward is good, he says, but Tim Bradley is a notch above, in his estimation.
I asked Ray for a hint on what we can expect April 12, from Pacquiao. "Nope, I don't know what kind of fight we're gonna see, because you know the way Bradley is, he got a mind all of his own. I respect whatever decision he makes."
So, if he starts trying to trade, will he urge a tapping of the brakes? "Stay smart," the father said he will counsel his kid. "Do whatever you wanna do, but stay smart. I see a fifty-fifty fight going in," he continued. "That night, April 12, Tim will be victorious. If the knockout comes, it comes, but we're gonna be victorious.
"I'm not going to worry about the judges," he said, because that would detract from preparation and possibly performance. "Everything is in the lord's hands."
Ray Bradley told me that his dad always told him, you don't work, you don't eat, and he's passed that on to the son. The Louisiana native said that nobody will give you nothing for free. He's worked construction, as a skycap, and now works as a security officer, for about 3,000 kids at a high school where he's a security officer. He's "firm but fair" in the eyes of the kids, he says. He says he respects every kid as an individual, much the way he lets his son do his thing, and doesn't demand the boy follow his every request and gameplan element. Ray Bradley said when his son wins April 12, the fans, the media, everyone will give him proper respect.
And might a bout with Floyd Mayweather materialize, if Bradley beats Pacman, with zero doubt, on April 12? "If Mayweather-Bradley connects," Ray Bradley said, in closing, "it'd be good, for the fans, but we're not gonna look for the future, we're just gonna train for April 12."
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