The case for Timothy Bradley

By James West: When talking to fellow followers of the sweet science I am always surprised how little Timothy Bradley is talked about. Even when conversation progresses past the Pacquiao/Mayweather circus Bradley is rarely mentioned, if at all. Whenever I mention Bradley the response is usually along the lines of ‘yeah he’s an ok fighter’ or ‘he’s good but nothing special.’ The indifferent attitude displayed by so many boxing fans toward Bradley mystifies the author. In my opinion Bradley is one of the most underrated fighter’s active today, and a possible future pound-for-pound contender.

Let’s start with the facts. 27 years old and boxing out of Palm Springs, Bradley has amassed 27 wins out of 28 fights, with one no-contest against Nate Campbell back in 2009 after a head clash (something that would appear to be a recurring theme in Bradley’s fights.) Perhaps Bradley’s biggest challenge to date was traveling to England to take on the then WBC Light Welterweight king Junior Witter in 2008, overcoming the awkward southpaw via a split decision. 5 of Bradley’s last 7 opponents were reigning or past title-holders, with Bradley not just fighting in California but traveling to Michigan, Montreal and Nottingham in pursuit of opponents.

The main criticism directed at Bradley seems to stem from his low knock-out percentage; however I don’t think Bradley can be accused of being a boring fighter. Against Luis Carlos Abregu and Kendall Holt in particular Bradley was very much the aggressor, bringing it to his opponent all the way through the fight. Even in Bradley’s most recent outing, the disappointing showing with Devon Alexander, Bradley was the one pushing the fight along and setting the pace. Bradley may not be a puncher but he is certainly a fighter and has shown it time and time again throughout his career.

Another criticism of Bradley is the propensity for head clashes and butts in his fights, often at the expense of his opponents. Whilst this is a flaw in Bradley’s style I would suggest that it is more due to technical problems, seen most obviously ducking into his opponent behind his double jab, then any dirty tendencies as a fighter. Apart from this aspect of his fighting Bradley is a very tidy operator, working efficiently throwing compact and high volume punches and winning fights through outworking and dominating his opposition.

There are three main reasons why I believe Bradley can push on to become a pound-for-pound contender. Firstly, I still see much room for improvement technically. Although I have described Bradley as being a tidy fighter he does still have a tendency to leave himself open to some shots, particularly the counter hook which has seen him knocked down in the past. In addition Bradley does have a tendency to drop his right away from his face when he comes in to jab leaving him open once again to the counter punch. When taken into consideration alongside Bradley's problems with head clashes and ducking into punches it would seem that on a basic technical level there are issues that his camp need to resolve.

Secondly Bradley’s work ethic is second to none – he is always in shape, always gets stronger as the fight goes on, and doesn’t cut corners. In an era where more and more fighters are failing to maintain basic professional standards by staying disciplined and making weight (don’t even get me started on Joan Guzman), Bradley is up there with the likes of Michael Katsidis in terms of the dedication and pride both these individuals take in their training camps and pre-fight preparation. Furthermore, it is clear to anyone familiar with Bradley's interviews that the guy just loves boxing. In this time of hyped up prospects, trash talk and bad-mouthing Bradley's unassuming demeanor, respect for his opponents and frank and honest assessments of his own performances are refreshing and commendable.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Bradley has built a winning mentality. He may not be knocking opponents out in the first round or blowing guys out of the ring, but he is accumulating wins against very good opposition. His last three opponents - Alexander, Abregu and Peterson – have come in with perfect records but have been sent packing. The fight against Alexander was probably the most anticlimactic fight of Bradley’s career, but it may also be the most important as an indication of just how far Bradley can go. Never once in that fight did Alexander look up for the challenge, and whilst he made faces and complained to the referee Bradley just kept on plugging, took the win and moves on to the next level. In all certainty the next step for Bradley would appear to be a unification fight with WBA Light Welterweight champion Amir Khan later this year. If, or perhaps I should say when, this fight happens I think Bradley will quietly and efficiently get the job done. In terms of technical skill or pure boxing ability Bradley may not be on a level with Khan or even Alexander, but in terms of commitment, desire and most importantly knowing how to win Bradley is right up there with the best in the game.

Article posted on 11.04.2011

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