Timothy Bradley to Retire: Goodbye and Good Riddance?

By Paul Magno on July 31, 2017
Timothy Bradley to Retire: Goodbye and Good Riddance?
Timothy Bradley fights usually amount to little more than awkward, muddled action.

With the exception of his Fight of the Year brawl with Ruslan Provodnikov in 2013, Bradley has never really made for compelling TV…

Word has it that two-division former world champ Timothy Bradley is about to announce his retirement from the sport after about thirteen years as a pro.

Bradley has a résumé that may earn him Hall of Fame consideration and he’s definitely paid his dues in the sport. By all accounts, he’s also one of the really good guys in the business.

All of this is wonderful and certainly worthy of heaping amounts of respect, so is it too cruel to say that Bradley’s farewell is probably less of a sad goodbye than a “that’s alright, see you later?”

With the exception of his Fight of the Year brawl with Ruslan Provodnikov in 2013 (in which he might have been fighting in a concussed haze from the first round forward) and a couple of other brief moments here and there, Bradley has never really made for compelling TV.

Sorry, it’s true.

Regardless of the opponent and the circumstance, Timothy Bradley fights usually amount to little more than awkward, muddled action where bodies are moving, but nothing is really happening. And we’ve seen this way too many times to blame the other guy at this point. Even when “boxing” and taking a stab at being a stylist, the ring work is just so much nothingness. Pure athleticism propping up, again, nothingness.

At the risk of taking a sharp shot at a good guy, this is all on “Desert Storm” and his execution of a fighting style that is often so confused and lacking in real form that it’s barely a style at all.

There used to be a time when many in the media pounced on Bradley for producing extremely unsatisfying bouts, but that was before he signed with Top Rank and earned the free pass from the Top Rank apologists in the media. But, the media was right to criticize him back when Bradley was with promoter Gary Shaw and not much has changed since then. Even with trainer Teddy Atlas in his corner for a good chunk of time, Bradley is still Bradley.

The nothingness that Bradley tends to produce in the ring is not the same as the sublime negative powers of a fighter like Guillermo Rigondeaux. Bradley’s void is less like a supreme robot coldly shutting down foes and more like a dump truck dumping a ton of gear-breaking tools into a wood chipper.

With excessive, frenetic movement that leads to nothing, an awkward, mauling inside game, and a lack of precision-punching on the outside, Bradley creates situations where the fighting space is so confused and awkward that neither fighter can really do much. Bradley has even been able to drag two of this generation’s most exciting fighters—Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez—into the void.

To his credit, Bradley has managed to get to the very highest levels of the sport to become a two-division world champ. Through tremendous physical conditioning and a will to win second to none in boxing, Bradley has earned the right to be regarded as a legitimate world-class fighter. But he’s also a complete and total buzzkill of a ring presence in every sense of the word. With only thirteen knockouts in thirty-six professional bouts (two in his last eighteen) and a style that nullifies an opponent’s ability to land anything clean, fans can’t even hope for the occasional early end, either.

Yes, there is room for the so-called “boring” defense-minded fighter and it’s a shame that more people can’t appreciate those masters of the fine art of boxing. But Bradley isn’t one of those masters. Bradley’s negativity is a product, in many ways, of his inability. It’s a flaw he shares with many young fighters today, raised to rely on athleticism over traditional boxing skill and craft. Real connoisseurs of boxing skill and craft have to be pulling at their hair in angst over some of the stuff that passes as good technical boxing these days. Bradley is just one of the best of this current lot.

It’s hard to make a case against Bradley in any way because he is what he is as a product of an era that is also just what it is. But that doesn’t make him any more palatable as a performer.

If Bradley is indeed retiring and has a good financial plan in place to see him through the rest of his life, then Timothy wins at the game of life. He has already claimed to be suffering from some neurological issues from his war with Provodnikov and his time in the ring, so retiring from the sport just days before his thirty-fourth birthday is the smartest thing he could do.

Timothy Bradley, the man, deserves applause and acclaim—and his character and class have been big parts of his career in the ring. But Timothy Bradley, the nuts and bolts fighter? He was a mess and, with just a very few exceptions, never made for a satisfying night at the fights.

So, yeah, have a nice life, Tim. See ya behind the mic and at your new restaurant.

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Classic Boxing: Bradley vs. Provodnikov 2013 (HBO Boxing)

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  1. Alispeak 04:28am, 08/04/2017

    With all due respect to Paul Magno’s excellent writing style and skills.  As a boxing fan, I must admonish him for saying “Good Riddance” to a fighter like Timothy Bradley.  That’s just hurtful, mean-spirited and self-serving for a journalist to say about a warrior like Bradley upon his retirement.  When would the phrase be appropriate?  Well, when the boxer does something that is so egregious that it disrespects the sport or his fellow boxers.  Good examples?  When Gerry Cooney hit an already-unconscious Ken Norton who was trapped sitting defenseless, hands down on the ropes with four of his career best hooks to the chin, that deserved a “good riddance” when he retired, since his goal seemed to be to kill the man even after he was clearly unconscious (Thank you, George Foreman for giving Cooney a punishing KO in a fight that followed the heartless and career-ending damage Cooney had inflicted on Norton).  Similarly, when, with seconds to go in the fight, Denis Lebedev just had to clobber an already helpless Roy Jones, Jr who was slowly falling forward, head totally exposed with a crunching right hand as the ref had already begun to step in, that deserved a “good riddance” when Lebedev finally retires, because again, this was blatant and unnecessary act of savagery upon a fellow warrior that could have been life-ending for Jones.  And, there are other legitimate “good riddance” situations that can be noted by journalists.  When Roy Jones finally retires, it will be okay, in my view, to say “good riddance” because Jones has outstayed his welcome by fighting mostly non-entities.  Likewise, after Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor a few weeks from now, journalists can say “good riddance” to Floyd for having staged so many “money-only” spectacles.  When Tyson bit off Evander’s ear to avoid an inevitable and embarrassing beating by Holyfield, that may have deserved a “good riddance” from the press when he retired.  But Timothy Bradley?  Here’s a guy whose only transgression is that he can’t punch very hard.  And this has only placed him in situation after situation where he must rely on his own athleticism, boxing skill and his courageous will to win.  And he hasn’t really run away from his adversaries.  He has often stood toe-to-toe and traded with superior punchers.  And over his last 21 fights, he has only taken on guys with excellent records.  My word, with only 2 losses to Pac-Man and one draw in 36 fights, Timothy Bradley should be receiving nothing but praise upon his retirement.  If his style produced uninteresting fights, the fans would say “good riddance” by not showing up.  But, for a journalist to say it, that’s just missing the point of what boxing is about and, again, feels hurtful, mean-spirited and self-serving.  Why “self-serving”?  Because it seems to be an attempt to get attention by saying something totally inappropriate.  Paul Magno should be apologizing to Tim Bradley for this transgression.

  2. Charlie Gard 11:03am, 08/02/2017

    raxman-Simply great post!  FYI I had second thoughts about my earlier comment that included Floyd in that group. His right is actually a sharp, jarring, head snapper that serves to keep his opponents in line as he reels in the rounds or as I have posted in the past to make them behave. It certainly worked with Canelo and even with that pit bull Maidana in their second go round.

  3. raxman 06:38pm, 08/01/2017

    Charlie Gard - agreed - and I don’t dispute you listing Bradley in amongst Ward and Hopkins and even Porter, I just have this need, well its a compulsion really, to address the misunderstanding that even knowledgeable fans of the sport such as yourself and most that come to this site, have about Mayweather - and in particular his punching power.
    The problem is that Mayweathers major accomplishment were as (and for) Money. The fact is Floyd had only 15 fights above 140pounds -  therefore thinking of him as a welterweight is akin to thinking of Hearns as light heavy or Sugar Ray as middleweight, or the great Duran as anything other than a lightweight .
    Duran is a good comparison. Mostly we recognise his boxing greatness as a lightweight - had he retired after Montreal his HOF standing assured, as great lightweight who moved up to welterweight to defeat the equally great Sugar Ray. However we mostly think of the profile, of the public image of Duran, as beginning with that fight, and as one quarter of the 4 kings. Four fighters lumped together based on an era of $$$ making fights despite each of their best weights being in 4 different classes
    There is no question that Floyd faced his best opposition at 147 & above, but that Money Mayweather was p4p a much inferior fighter to Pretty Boy Floyd. A combination of weak hands and bigger and better opposition hurt Money’s KO % - but the super featherweight Pretty Boy Floyd with a record of 27-0 (21ko), was never in a boring fight.

  4. Rufus 11:32am, 08/01/2017

    This article is on point. Tim was a nobody until the first Pacquiao fight. And when that fight was announced instead of Mayweather, fans were mad and said he was nobody. After the decision he was tormented like it was his fault and pushed to suicidal thoughts by media and fans blaming him. Then he decided to be a brawler to prove himself and suffered severe brain trauma vs Provodnikov.

    He’s NOT a HOF’er, but the boxing bar is so low it’s likely he’ll get in.

  5. Charlie Gard 08:16am, 08/01/2017

    raxman-You points are well taken as always….but here’s the thing…..Timmy was an over achiever but we couldn’t accept that because we couldn’t see past his physique which was like a mini Mike Tyson only more muscular!

  6. Bond 08:00am, 08/01/2017

    Not necessarily wrong, but harsh article. Whatever flaws he had, I think Desert Storm deserved better

  7. Cain Bradley 07:00am, 08/01/2017

    Was also tempted to write about Bradley. Would not gone at this angle and would have instead talked about a fighter who was very good but not great. This is a man who only ever lost to Pacquaio although sometimes made fights harder than they needed to be by cruising. He boxed a lot of awkward tough opponents to beat and usually came out on top, I think that is better than going to war and alternating wins and losses?

  8. Pete The Sneak 04:13am, 08/01/2017

    To me, his fight with Provo will always be Bradley’s defining moment. Showed some serious cojones taking those monster shots and coming back to win that fight in spite of being concussed for the majority of the fight. Not an easy thing to do, particularly when someone like a prime Provo was trying to take your head off. That aside, his fight with Devon Alexander (which was supposed to be a major fight at the time) was a snore fest, and of course his fights with Manny, where he pretty much lost the whole series but was given a gift in the first one really did nothing to put him over the top as an elite fighter. Decent guy and fighter who was always in good shape, but yeah, if he is retiring, there will be no screams of one more from this side, as he may very well have already had one too many. Hope not and wish him well…Peace.

  9. raxman 11:54pm, 07/31/2017

    Charlie Gard - Mayweather only lacked power to his punch at 147 and above. at 130,135&140; he has a very healthy ko ratio. in fact after Floyds last fight below 147 he had a record of 34-0 with 24ko’s - its a very rare power puncher that takes his power beyond 3 divisions - so I would say he doesn’t belong with the other 4
    but if you really want to stick him in the group of athletes that couldn’t hit you should probably put Pacman there as well, given that Pacquiao career KO % of 56% is only just higher than Mayweathers 53%

  10. Charlie Gard 05:32pm, 07/31/2017

    Yikes! What a sendoff! Timmy is just a lesser light in that exclusive club of world class “athletic fighters” that can’t hit worth a shit so they learned to “compensate”, which includes Mayweather, Hopkins, Ward and Porter.

  11. Kid Blast 05:21pm, 07/31/2017

    My worry is that he might have taken too much punishment. Losing 3 to Pac and that war with Prov didn’t do his skull any good. I hope and pray that he doesn’t get CTE. He is a decent guy who was a credit to boxing.

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