Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com is reporting that the proposed January 29 fight between Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander is in "serious jeopardy," as Bradley's promoter Gary Shaw is looking for his fighter to sign a contract extension before the fight can be finalized, which Bradley is refusing. Bradley's current contract with Shaw expires in May 2011, and the fighter would like to explore his options and entertain other offers when it does expire.
We've seen this tactic used before by other promoters, notably Don King in recent years. King will often all but hold a fighter hostage, then find good fights for him providing he'll sign a contract extension, or if he won't, will let him sit on the sidelines, gather some rust, and wait for the deal to expire.
If Bradley won't sign the extension, it might mean that we don't get Bradley-Alexander, which is a much-desired fight and really big money for both of them, because HBO badly wants it. It will also all but completely assure Shaw of losing Timothy Bradley when the contract is up. It's not like there'll be a shortage of suitors for an undefeated, talented young fighter whose desire to face top opponents is quite real. Even though Bradley isn't a draw anywhere (even at home), that stuff can be fixed by the right promoter doing the legwork. I'd imagine all the other notable American promoters -- Top Rank, Golden Boy, King, Lou DiBella -- would be thrilled to try to sign Tim Bradley.
Reeno also reports that Golden Boy might be the front-runner, as they've been rumored to have already been in contact with the fighter. It might be the move that makes the most sense. Golden Boy is based in California, where Bradley is from, and they run plenty of shows out there.
I'd hate to lose Bradley-Alexander in the short term, but really this might just be what has to happen overall. Gary Shaw has done a good job with Tim Bradley in a lot of ways, and I certainly don't want to make him out to be the big bad guy here. If the reports are true, you have to remember that it's a business for the fighters, and it's also a business for the promoters. Shaw is not doing anything particularly unusual if this is the case, as much as it may be off-putting. For Golden Boy or any other suitor, you already know HBO is interested in investing in Bradley's career, which is a big green light to roll out the red carpet. Hopefully this will settle itself one way or the other and we still get the Bradley-Alexander fight, but right now it's definitely not looking very good.