Last night, it was reported that Timothy Bradley's December 15 return date was in question because of lingering issues with the feet he injured in his June 9 fight against Manny Pacquiao. But now, Bradley tells his local paper The Desert Sun that his feet are fine, he's been training, and he still might not fight on December 15, because he's not interested in a rematch with Lamont Peterson.
To be frank, Bradley isn't saying a lot more about that idea than most fans have already said:
My foot is fine; I’ve been training for the past couple weeks. ... There’s nothing wrong with my foot. ... Another thing I want people to know, and no disrespect to Peterson, but I’ve already been down that road. I think a rematch with him doesn’t make sense at all. ... I think he’s the only guy available to fight right now, so I’m willing to wait."
Here's a rundown of opponents who have fallen through for whatever reason for Bradley's December 15 date, which is now looking like it's just a December 15 show at Marlins Park with HBO maybe televising, but no Tim Bradley.
First name I remember hearing mentioned. Judah was reportedly rejected by HBO as an opponent. Apparently they are forever out of the Zab Judah business, at least until a more favored fighter needs an opponent and Zab is there, willing to take it. I mean, they were supposedly out of the Zab business before the Amir Khan fight, too.
The least attractive of all options mentioned, Provodnikov facing Bradley excited no one, even though it likely would have been fun to watch (Provodnikov is always fun to watch), because he's got no fan base, has never fought on HBO, and I think most assumed he'd have been badly outclassed by Bradley. Provodnikov is enjoyable TV, but he's not Arturo Gatti or anything.
Top Rank mentioned this, then Golden Boy said they'd sign off on it, and then it fell apart, and each side blamed the other for it. It never seemed like a serious possibility, which is a shame because it's a really good fight for both guys. Guerrero may wind up fighting Berto.
Brook and promoter Eddie Hearn said they were made an offer, and passed on it, because the money wasn't great and Top Rank wanted options. They're instead staying on the path toward an IBF title shot, facing Hector Saldivia on October 20 in an eliminator bout.
Nobody was excited. Peterson still has a damaged rep from the failed VADA test earlier this year, and we saw Bradley-Peterson a few years ago, and while it was a solid fight, well-fought, Bradley clearly won without any question at all.
So what does that leave? Provodnikov or bust! Apparently, it's bust. Bradley says that he's willing to wait until January or February if that might mean a better opponent is available, but this list of guys is about as good as it's going to get. Bradley signed with Top Rank to fight Manny Pacquiao eventually. He got that fight a lot sooner than anyone figured he would, because Top Rank ran out of opponents.
Now Bradley is stuck -- fans have a distaste for his trash-talk, the win he was gifted against Manny, he still doesn't have a big fan base, he's used to making seven figures now and won't accept short pay for a mediocre fight. It's just a crap position for everyone, and Top Rank doesn't have welterweights. Golden Boy largely controls the notable American fighters in the welterweight division -- Mayweather, Guerrero, Malignaggi, Alexander, Maidana, Khan (though he's still at 140 for the time), Berto (for now at least), Victor Ortiz.
Without the GBP fighters available, Bradley is looking at options like Jessie Vargas, who is with Top Rank but is still a prospect; Josesito Lopez, who needs some ring rehab time coming off that punishing Canelo loss; Jan Zaveck and Carson Jones, who might make for terrific fights with Bradley, but they aren't names; or someone like Kendall Holt, who has also already lost to Bradley, albeit far more competitively than Peterson did.
Bottom line, I don't think the options for January/February are going to look much better than the options for December 15. Bradley is either in denial about his position, or he's buying time. Probably the latter.