Timothy Bradley doesn't want to take steps back in competition, but would be willing to take a step back down in weight to land big fights, and is pushing in the media now for Top Rank to work with other promoters -- namely, their rivals at Golden Boy Promotions -- if that's what it takes to land him a big fight.
Bradley (29-0, 12 KO) is of course coming off of his controversial win over Manny Pacquiao on June 9, a fight almost everyone felt Pacquiao deserved to win, and since then, he's seemingly made one press mistake after another. He's complained about Pacquiao and Top Rank ignoring him in order to instead set up a fourth Pacquiao-Marquez fight on December 8, either failing to understand that it was about money (Marquez is worth more of it) or that, quite simply, his disputed win over Manny just didn't end up making him any bigger attraction than he had been before.
It's been a bumpy ride since June, and Bradley's latest comments seem to indicate that he's unhappy with the attention Top Rank has given him. According to Bradley, the company wants to match him with Mike Alvarado, who just lost to Brandon Rios on October 13, and Bradley says he can't understand the appeal in that fight, and wonders why he can't get Rios instead:
"He’s a great fighter, but he’s coming off a loss to Rios. Rios is a Top Rank fighter; so am I. I think that fight makes sense. ... Top Rank’s plans are to put (Rios) in there with Pacquiao, but nobody really knows what this kid can do if he fights a fighter like myself. ... I think he needs to fight somebody like myself before he even steps in the ring to fight Pacquiao."
It's a strange mixed message from Bradley, who holds on to the idea that his win over Pacquiao entitles him to the biggest fights out there. Maybe it should -- or, at the least, maybe it should entitle him to bigger opponents than Mike Alvarado, or scrapped/rumored December opponents like Ruslan Provodnikov or Lamont Peterson.
Yet at the same time, he gives the impression that he would be a good test for Rios before Rios were to fight Pacquiao. Not that he's saying he thinks Rios would beat him and prove something, but he's putting himself on a lower rung than Manny.
Bradley also says he'd like to fight Floyd Mayweather, but then who wouldn't? That's probably not going to happen. He also mentions a potential move back to 140 to face GBP stars Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse.
All of these would be good fights, for the record. Tim Bradley is a good fighter, a top talent, and each of these matchups would be terrific. The problems are political. Not only do Top Rank and Golden Boy not work together, but Bradley doesn't have much pull, especially given that his promoter doesn't seem particularly focused on finding much for him.
Perhaps at Top Rank, the feeling is that even after the Pacquiao fight, Bradley needs to win the fans over. They would be right if that were the line of thinking, and a fight with Alvarado could help. Alvarado is very exciting, all-action, and Bradley would almost surely beat him. Bradley is simply a better class of fighter overall. It would probably be a pretty exciting fight and give people something to talk about.
At the same time, it's hard to not understand where Bradley is coming from. He's an undefeated, two-division world champion who just got a win over Manny Pacquiao, and they want to give him the losing fighter from an HBO Boxing After Dark co-feature?
The great big plan for Bradley signing with Top Rank was to eventually secure him a fight with Pacquiao. It went both ways; Bradley would get a big fight with Manny, and Manny would have an opponent in his prime, a fresh name who wouldn't be a rerun opponent.
In the end, they wound up having to rush Pacquiao-Bradley, because they ran out of guys for Manny to fight, and Miguel Cotto wouldn't play ball this past spring. So Bradley went from fighting Joel Casamayor on a Pacquiao undercard in a farce of a fight to facing Manny Pacquiao. Then, when the dust settled and Tim Bradley had a belt but no gained stardom or credibility, really, Bradley was the guy who was edged out. Pacquiao went back to Marquez, and Tim Bradley was left out in the cold. Top Rank has few star fighters near his weight class, and there aren't many with the other promoters out there like DiBella, Goossen, Shaw, etc.
So he's targeting Golden Boy fighters. His argument that the Top Rank-Golden Boy war shouldn't affect his career is noble, but it's unrealistic. Of course it affects his career. That's entirely why it's a Top Rank-Golden Boy war, and not a Bob Arum-Richard Schaefer war. The fighters are the ones being hurt, or at least the fighters who have real ambition are. And whatever else you might want to say about Timothy Bradley, he has true ambition.
Bradley is stuck right now. He thinks more of himself than his promoters seem to, and frankly a lot more than most fans I've encountered since June seem to think of him, too. With Top Rank not having much to offer -- they could offer Rios, but Brandon's in the hopper for Manny, not Bradley -- his options are very, very limited. A move back to 140 would only accomplish so much. He's got no better options there than he does at 147 without the Golden Boy guys available to him, and we may as well consider them unavailable for the moment.
I continue to have mixed emotions on this topic. I do feel for Bradley, but at the same time, a lot of this is understandable. His win wasn't taken seriously by anyone, he dug his own hole with his media behavior to some degree, and his promoters aren't behind him fully and they don't have much for him even if they were. Without Manny Pacquiao looking his way, Timothy Bradley is in just about the same position as he was when he was promoted by Gary Shaw. And that's not why he came to Top Rank.
Still, from where I sit, he can't help himself by sitting around and complaining, whether justified or not. He needs to move on with his career and get back in the ring and fight. That's where the "healing" will start, so to speak. If it has to be Alvarado, then fight Alvarado and win, and move from there. If it has to be Ruslan Provodnikov, do it, get it done, and move forward. The bottom line is that Bradley needs to fight. He's not helping the situation by staying out of the spotlight.