Timothy Bradley, Jr.—Salute!

By Marc Livitz on August 7, 2017
Timothy Bradley, Jr.—Salute!
Bradley dropped Witter to the canvas in round six. (John Gichigi/Getty Images Europe)

If we’re to search for may have indeed been Tim’s absolute finest hour, then we might need to go all the way back to May of 2008…

Boxing fans could have an easy time saying that with the respective retirements of former champions Wladimir Klitschko and Juan Manuel Marquez, the proverbial torch is being humbly passed to a new pool of talent. Names such as Terence Crawford, Mikey Garcia and Vasyl Lomachenko may be a few of the bearers, so to speak. Both Klitschko and Marquez are in their 40’s, so with the knowledge that not every fighter is an “Alien” the likes of Bernard Hopkins, their individual decision to walk away from the ring isn’t a profound shock. However, the news that former three-division world champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley has joined the ranks of the retired is a bit surprising, yet fully understandable once his journeys through destruction and falling bombs in the ring are considered.

The Palm Springs, California native was certainly as tough as they come in the sport and the fact that he may be long associated with one of the worst decision victories in recent memory is not fair to him. Of course, this is in reference to his June 2012 split decision win over former boxing titan Manny Pacquiao. In this particular contest, Bradley was outdone in terms of landed punches by a factor of 94 and virtually no one in across the landscape of the sport saw him as the rightful winner. An independent panel of judges reviewed the fight and agreed that the respective scores of Duane Ford and C.J. Ross (115-113 apiece) were ridiculous. In any case, the decision wasn’t Bradley’s fault and the criticism hurled upon him was preposterous and the death threats received by he and his family were beyond disgusting.

Bradley, who has retired with a record of (33-2-1, 13 KO’s), “officially” lost twice in his career, both defeats courtesy of the aforementioned Pacquiao. The wrongfully highlighted saga with Manny should not take away from the many memorable nights we were given as fans of the sport from “Desert Storm.” His March 2013 war with Ruslan Provodnikov won awards across the boxing world, including the Boxing Writers Association of America’s “Fight of the Year” honor, a distinction shared with Ring Magazine as well. He followed that victory up with a very close and perhaps questionable split decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez. For a short time, Tim became “the man who beat the man.” Interestingly enough, the greatest nights of Bradley’s career may have come later in his career, which were made evident by wins over Provodnikov, Marquez, Diego Chaves, Jessie Vargas and Brandon Rios.

There’s been a few “bombs,” if the meaning is taken with jest in Tim’s career as well. Let’s not forget the issue of the head or more to the point, that head on Bradley’s shoulders. The one that could open a nice gash on any vulnerable fighter if the opportunity surfaced. Two bouts may come to mind when thinking about the dome of the man from the California desert. He does actually have a “no decision” on his fighting ledger, which comes from his August 2009 encounter with Nate Campbell for the WBO super lightweight title. A clash of heads ended the contest prematurely in the third round, so the scorecards of the judges wouldn’t be needed. A few years later, one of the worst ways to close such a legendary building as the Pontiac Silverdome was devised by Bradley alongside Devon Alexander.

Each man held a version of a light welterweight title and throughout the contest, not much respect was paid to a stadium which at one time was the home field of one of the best running backs in the history of professional football, Barry Sanders. A head butt in the third round was followed by one in the tenth, after which the bout was stopped. Bradley was declared the winner by technical decision, which was almost as indigestible as the contest itself. Not much to even write to jail about and nothing memorable. The bald head of Bradley would continue to be an issue for the remainder of his career, at least to some degree. We’ll stop the bashing of the former champion here. There’s more positives than negatives by far when his contribution to the sport is considered.

If we’re to search for may have indeed been Tim’s absolute finest hour, then we might need to go all the way back to May of 2008. Fighting on the home turf of just about any fighter in the United Kingdom is a bite not often taken. Hostile territory as a description of some of the venues across the pond may be more than a simple understatement. Regardless, “Desert Storm” managed to control the second half of his WBC light welterweight championship clash with Junior Witter in Nottingham and was able to help seal the deal in round six when he sent Witter to the canvas. Tim won by split decision and dropped to his knees in the middle of the ring when his name was read as the victor.

The last three years, give or take of his career saw Bradley get hit more than ever before. That battle with Provodnikov almost ended in a knockout loss for him and he was for a lack of a better term, saved by the bell. Two years ago, Jessie Vargas landed a crushing overhand right that almost ended matters with less than thirty seconds left in the contest. That particular evening, of course may be equally memorable due to the error committed by referee Pat Russell when he gave Vargas the impression that he’d won by knockout after he waved his hands to actually signify the ringing of the final bell. The only problem was that he was the only one in attendance at StubHub Arena who heard it. Tim was awarded a rightful unanimous decision.

We last saw Bradley fight in the spring of 2016 and he was knocked down twice by Manny Pacquiao in the third and final fight of their unnecessary trilogy. The unanimous decision loss that night when coupled with the same outcome two years earlier make up the only two times he tasted defeat.

Timothy Bradley, Jr., this writer wholeheartedly salutes you and your efforts in the ring. Your habits in training camp were among the toughest around and you managed to give Veganism a shout as well. We’ll see you in the commentator’s booth and wish you nothing but the best. Thank you.

Follow Marc Livitz on Twitter at https://twitter.com/fightawrita

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