|Tim Bradley speaks
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (May 25, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
It was widely believed that
Tim Bradley was going to put his WBC and WBO junior welterweight titles on the
line against WBA beltholder Amir Khan this summer on July 23rd.
After what seemed like weeks of posturing, where this fight was pronounced dead
several times and then possibly revived, Bradley has decided (to the derision
of many in the sport) to pass on the opportunity to make a career-high payday
of $1.4 million. The decision has left the boxing world dumbfounded and
So why did the “Desert Storm”
steer clear of this fight?
Speaking exclusively to
Maxboxing on Monday afternoon, Bradley explained, "Well, it all boils down
to this; I'm a world champion, a two-time world champion. I just feel I haven't
gotten the respect that I deserve. I believe Golden Boy (who represents Khan),
from what I heard, was going to be putting on the show- not my promoter, for
one. Regardless of the money or whatever, the money was great; everything was
great. It was just basically my promoter has a deadline till June 30th to get me a fight and that's pretty much what I'm holding onto. I didn't put
that in the contract; they're the ones who put it in the contract. June 30th is the date that I was supposed to be fighting and they're not delivering."
According to a source, part
of Bradley’s two-fight pact to face Devon Alexander (where both boxers were
guaranteed return dates on the network for facing each other on January 29th)
was that the winner would have one of four options: Marcos Maidana, Andre Berto,
Khan or a rematch with a license fee of around $1.5 million. Bradley was
only offered Khan.
"So I'm just standing by my guns and saying, 'Hey, you guys gotta deliver
by June 30th; I'm ready to go.' July 23rd is out of my
contract. So that's pretty much in a nutshell why I'm not taking the fight at
this moment. Amir Khan, I think the fight could be bigger if we fought a little
bit later. I know I wanted the fight but when I sit back and I really realize
what happened with Devon Alexander, everyone really wanted this fight and I
didn't want the fight. When the fight happened, it wasn't what everybody
expected it to be because it was too soon. This is another fight that I feel is
too soon. I feel that if we let it marinate a little bit longer- because me and
Amir Khan are going to have to fight, we're going to do it; we'll get it on-
but at this very moment, everything's pretty much been, 'Well, Tim, you gotta fight
on this date; we gotta do this. Timmy you gotta do that.'
"Well, OK, alright,
well, you have till June 30th to get all this done. That's what it
boils down to. It boils down to that, June 30th."
Another factor here is that
Bradley is represented by Thompson Boxing Promotions and television packager
Gary Shaw, whose contracts are coming to an end. In his view, he is being set
up to be a B-side to Khan and Golden Boy (who just recently agreed to a new
four-fight deal with HBO) as they make one last score.
"I think that's what it is; I honestly do feel that way," said
Bradley, who has a mark of 27-0 with 11 KOs. "I feel that they are just
serving me up. Amir Khan's going to pretty much be the headliner in our fight;
I'm pretty much going to be the challenger. That makes no sense to me. I was
the challenger when I fought Devon, as well, and I'm going to be the challenger
here. I took the Devon fight because I was forced into it. I really didn't want
the fight; everybody knows that but it happened. It is what it is. We look back
at it; it wasn't as great as everybody thought it should've been. This is
another situation where I feel the exact same way. Same exact thing."
The fight in Pontiac was a
huge disappointment. Not only did it bomb at the box-office at that relic, the
Silverdome, it failed to deliver a star- as promised by the network- which
helped microwave that match-up. Bradley was led to believe that he would have
more choices going forward and not just boxed into one fight. In an ironic but
not-too-uncommon twist for HBO, Alexander (in another example of why perhaps
losing sometimes on this network is better than actually winning) gets to face
Lucas Matthysse on June 25th for over a million dollars.
"There should be a
couple of options. I feel that there was never a plan. I mean, let's see, after
I won the [WBC] world championship [the first time], I fought against Edner
Cherry, then I went on there to Canada. I mean, everybody wants to know why I'm
not known. I went over to Canada to fight against Kendall Holt- two Americans
in Canada," pointed out Bradley. "I won that one; after that fight, I
was promised the world after that fight. I was promised the world, 'Well, Tim
if you win this fight, you don't even know what we got going on for you.
You don't even know. We got something in store for you.' And after I win the
fights, it was like, OK, they're looking for opponents. I thought they had a
plan? Where's the plan at? Where's the big ol', 'Ewwww, I can't believe you
guys got this for me.'?
"So then I end up
fighting against Nate Campbell; alright, everyone knows what happened in that
fight. After that, I had to fight against Lamont Peterson. There was really no
plan. There was no thought into this; it was just, 'Let's take this fighter; our
plan didn't work out like [it] should've.' And for this one, after the
Alexander fight, I mean, who was I supposed to fight?"
Well, it turns out Khan and
only Khan, it seems.
One of the problems facing
Bradley is that since December of 2009 (where he outpointed Peterson), he has
fought all of twice. Last year, he performed just once, decisioning Carlos
Abregu in a welterweight contest. At age 27- what should be his physical prime-
he has become a part-time prizefighter. Other than that, Bradley's been forced
to wait on the sidelines for months as he has had to wait for open dates on HBO.
In many ways, he is the classic, modern-day prizefighter, perhaps overpaid by
traditional standards (where market value was determined by how well you drew
at the gate) and fighting only- and only- when your television packager gets a
date and a license fee from a network. There's no doubt that Bradley has made a
nice living the past few years; you won’t need to throw him any benefit dinners
anytime soon but it has also gave him a limited ceiling in terms of ever being
a true star or attraction.
This formula has made it
increasingly difficult to create them, as fighters perform so infrequently and
in such faraway locales where they’re offered free rooms and comp meals (sometimes
even at the luxurious employees’ lounge). Bradley has been both a beneficiary
and victim of this current system.
On this issue of his
inability to put asses in the seats, Bradley states, "A lot of people say
I'm not a ticket seller; I can't even sell-out in my hometown. I mean, did any
of my promoters come out here and do a rally and rally the people up? I've
never gotten anything here in my hometown. No one really cared but c'mon, fighting
in Mississippi? C'mon, fighting in England, fighting in Canada? I mean, c'mon,
that makes no sense to me. That's why you say nobody knows me."
To be fair, those bouts
against Junior Witter in Nottingham, England (where Bradley originally won the
WBC strap) and his unification tilt against Holt in Montreal fit in those
destinations. And to be blunt, where else were those fights going to take
place? Through 2007 till 2009, Bradley was moved well; he was kept active,
fighting in significant bouts and moving up the ladder. But recently, his
profile has stagnated, though no fault of his own, says Bradley, who believes
he's done his part. "It's the promoter’s job to get the fans and get
everybody to know me and get the general boxing fan and the doctors and
lawyers, just get the people to know who I am. It's the promoter’s job."
There have been rumors that
perhaps Bradley will sign on with Top Rank and eventually face Manny Pacquiao but
Bradley isn't looking that far ahead. Right now, he's a fighter without a
"Like I said, I'm waiting on a fight for June 30th. June 30th,
I'm supposed to fight; it's in my contract. June 30th is the
deadline; I'm sticking by it and that's the bottom line but I'm just waiting to
hear back from my promoters, June 30th. I didn't have any
options on any opponents; the only opponents they threw at me was Amir Khan and
that was it. I'm waiting on options," said Bradley, who added, "One
important factor is that my contract was supposed to end May 10th,
OK? I'm doing them a favor extending my contract to June 30th. OK, I
did them a favor. They put that in the contract when I fought Devon Alexander.
"So in a nutshell, it's
on them. It's on them."
On the flipside, Khan is
still fighting on July 23rd, as that side has moved on. "No
question about it," said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who
confirmed that Robert Guerrero just might be the leading contender to land this
They need to act relatively
quickly, as this promotion is now less than two months away.
"I'm waiting to hear
back from the Khans to see what they want to do. I think it comes down to two
names which are available and that is [Zab] Judah or Robert Guerrero and then
there's an interesting additional twist. Last week, the WBA informed us that by
September 11th, there's going to be a mandatory due for Amir and
that's going to be- guess who? Marcos Maidana."
Last December, Khan and
Maidana participated in one of the best scraps of 2010, which was won by Khan.
"I have to tell you
that surprised me a little bit because he just fought him," said Schaefer.
"So I have to discuss that with the 'BA and with our matchmakers, as well,
because I mean, I don't mind eventually having a rematch but let Maidana have a
few fights and let Khan have a few fights and then maybe they'll meet again. So
that's my take on that."
As for Bradley turning down
the Khan fight, Schaefer told Maxboxing, "I was surprised and obviously
one has to wonder why because it seems based on statements he made and his team
made, that he was on board and he must've known what the money was because why
would he otherwise be on board? I remember he made statements to the press that
he'll be fighting Khan; he even mentioned July 23rd at Mandalay Bay
and we were just basically waiting for Amir winning against [Paul] McCloskey,
which he did.
"And then suddenly for
him to pull out, I mean, obviously it's very surprising. It's surprising to a
lot of people. Some people have said, 'Well, he's afraid of Amir.' I refuse to
believe that. There must be another reason and you know what people are saying.
I don't have to get into it."
A few random thoughts on
this whole snafu...
- HBO could've just saved
themselves a lot of trouble if they would not leave trapdoors or promise boxers
return engagements on the network (regardless of the results of their fights).
It's one thing if you're a Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, who are
bona fide stars, but just about everyone else has really no leverage to demand
anything else but a singular appearance on their airwaves. Instead, you have
this situation with Bradley and perhaps Bernard Hopkins getting boxed into a
fight with Chad Dawson. The tornadoes ripping through the Midwest are natural
disasters; these here are HBO-mandated disasters.
- It's funny but again, like
Bradley-Alexander, I feel Bradley-Khan is another fight that was being made
prematurely. Yeah, this match-up might appeal to the hardcore- who believe
anytime The Ring magazine or the like has two fighters rated at the top means
it's a “big fight”- but I haven't talked to anyone who thinks that Bradley-Khan
in the middle of summer in Vegas sells 4,000 legitimate tickets. It's a huge
event in the UK, not so much in the U.S.A.
- How ‘bout this compromise
because it's clear that Bradley's side and his TV packager are getting along
about as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver: he fulfills his
contract and has one more bout; everybody gets paid and then walks away in separate
- I might be in the minority
but as it relates to Khan, I'd like to see him face Zab Judah next. Say what
you will but Judah has the best résumé at 140 pounds among all the realistic
possibilities and he currently holds a major title. As for Maidana, I agree
with Schaefer; I wouldn't mind some mixture and variety before they go at it
again. As for “The Ghost,” certainly it's not a bad fight but if I'm not
mistaken, has Guerrero ever had a major fight above 135 pounds?
I get the sense that it will
be Guerrero. I think he might come the cheapest and Golden Boy wants to keep
Mikkel Kessler's return on
June 4th against Mehdi Bouadla will be aired by Showtime before the “Super
Six” semifinal tilt between Glen Johnson and Carl Froch on a same-day delay
from Denmark...Mike Lee and Matt Korobov have been added to the July 9th show at the Home Depot Center in Carson, which features the slugfest between
Brandon Rios and Urbano Antillon for the WBA lightweight title...Schaefer says
that they will most likely not go through with their planned pay-per-view card
on July 30th and that Erik Morales will probably take a fight in
Mexico, for the time being...On July 23rd, newly minted WBO
featherweight king Orlando Salido will make his first defense in his hometown
of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico...It was announced on Tuesday that HBO will be doing
a reality show on noted trainer Freddie Roach, which will air next year...”Game
of Thrones”: now that needs to be given a guaranteed return on HBO...Dirk
Nowitzki is putting on perhaps the best display of shooting I've seen since one
Larry Joe Bird...I still can't believe how OKC lost Game Four to the Mavs on
Monday night, though... .
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.
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