When last seen, Tim Bradley was coming off the biggest win of his professional career. Sort of. Last June, Bradley scored a controversial split decision win over Manny Pacquiao. Controversial, to say the least. Virtually every media member in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas that night had Pacquiao winning, many quite comfortably.
But Bradley got the decision, his biggest win, his biggest payday. The criticism for the outcome was directed at the judges, not Bradley, who was lauded for battling arguably boxing's most feared fighter with two feet that were in such bad shape Bradley was forced to conduct the post fight press conference from a wheelchair. Most fighters would capitalize on the accomplishment, whether in a rematch with Pacquiao or another significant fight.
Bradley? He got nothing.
There were negotiations with Pacquiao for a rematch, but they didn't go very far. Pacquiao-Bradley was a (relative) dud in terms of pay per views, generating just over 900,000 buys, a disappointing number for Pacquiao, who routinely generated more than one million. In addition, the live gate raked in just $8.9 million with 2,070 tickets going unsold, which also was a disappointment. Top Rank officials were in no hurry to make the rematch.
But Bradley didn't just miss out on a Pacquiao fight. He missed out on
Bradley, citing a general indifference towards fighting Peterson again, turned it down.
Months later, Bradley (29-0) is back. On March 16 he will defend his WBO welterweight title against Ruslan Provodinikov (22-1) on HBO. It's not the high profile fight Bradley had hoped for but he will see a familiar face on the other side of the ring: Freddie Roach, who will train Provodinikov.
"I am so glad to get into the ring," Bradley said. "At last my feet and ankles are OK, and physically I am ready. If Provodnikov attacks I may box. He has no real defense. I know he will be attacking. I already beat Freddie Roach's top dog so I don't know how much Freddie can help this guy. My focus now is that if a fighter is in the ring and in front of me, I will get rid of him. I will use my skills and my smarts."
Said Roach, "Only Bradley and two other guys believe [he beat Pacquiao]. I think Bradley's been out in the desert sun too long."
It will be more than nine months since the Pacquiao fight when Bradley gets back in the ring. But he doesn't expect to be that inactive again.
"I want to fight three or four times this year," Bradley said. "I have the hunger back. I always have to prove something to the people. I think I have to prove something to myself. I know my abilities and I know what I'm capable of doing, but I definitely want to make a statement in this fight."
Banks bummed out
It's been quite a few months for Johnathan Banks. In November, Banks was in Wladimir Klitschko's corner, filling in for the late Emanuel Steward in Klitschko's dominating decision win over Mariusz Wach. A week later, Banks upset highly touted heavyweight Seth Mitchell, knocking out the former Michigan State linebacker in the second round. Later, Klitschko told SI.com that Banks would be his full-time trainer, a coup for a journeyman fighter who has spent years in Klitschko's training camps.
The good luck ended this week though, when Banks broke his thumb in training and was forced to withdraw from his February 16 rematch with Mitchell.
"I was sparring on Monday and I felt something wrong with my right thumb while we were in the ring," Banks said. "On Tuesday, I went to a hand specialist here in Detroit and there is a broken bone in the thumb and he diagnosed that it would take six weeks to heal. I was having a terrific camp and was truly looking to facing Seth again. Hopefully the bout can be rescheduled soon and I can get back in the ring in the near future."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told SI.com that the fight is off the card headlined by Adrien Broner's lightweight title defense against Gavin Rees, despite heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings announcing he was willing to face Mitchell on short notice.
"If we cannot get [Wladimir] Klitschko, we'll keep calling out all the other heavyweights until one of them decides to fight Bryant," Jennings' promoter, Russell Peltz, said. "Today's fighters have to get in shape. The oldtimers stayed in shape and Jennings trains like the oldtimers. He's always ready. I spoke with [Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker] Eric Gomez and told him Jennings was ready, willing and able."
From the Mailbag
Floyd is a great fighter, Jonathan. Maybe the best defensive fighter of all time. But he isn't in the same class as Ali. Ali, in his prime, was the greatest of all time.
Got to be honest, Anthony: I'm not excited about any of them. Pacquiao's decline has really sucked the wind out of Floyd's fights, because even though it was maddening to never see Pacquiao and Mayweather in the ring, the possibility of it created a natural excitement for each of their fights. Now that it's off the table, I'm deflated. I guess if I had to choose I'd say Guerrero (most deserving), Alvarez (most high profile) and then Alexander, who has done nothing to warrant that level of a fight.
I agree, James. It was an odd choice. I'm not against Tyson getting these acting opportunities, but to cast him as a character with that particular backstory only invites people to remember the horrible crime he was convicted of in 1992. Maybe that's what the producers wanted, to create a buzz. It didn't work. That episode drew only 5.2 million viewers, reportedly the smallest audience for any original, regularly scheduled episode of the series. It also finished last among the major broadcast networks in that time slot.
Ten Things I Think, and yes, I'm ripping off Peter King
In a release announcing his February 21 fight in New York -- opponent TBA -- Dulorme sounded eager to join the 140-pound division. "I feel much stronger and faster at this weight," Dulorme said. "We learned a lot from the Abregu loss. After that fight, I didn't get down on myself or discouraged, we just went back to the drawing board and began working on and learning new things. I plan on staying in my new division for the time being, but I would love another crack at Abregu down the line, as I know that next time would be very different."