Sunday, October 9, 2011

Timothy Bradley Is Content Now With Top Rank

By Rich Mancuso

Timothy Bradley Jr. believes he is in the right company now with a promotional deal with Top Rank. The junior welterweight who has been in the ring twice in the last two years, and had three championships signed a deal with Bob Arum this past week. The contractual and legal issues with promoters Gary Shaw and Ken Thomson may not be over, but he has passed a hurdle.

“You walk outside and people ask, and don’t know me,” commented Bradley a few days ago after his new deal became official. He was immediately signed to fight former lightweight champion Joel Casamayor, a co-feature of the third bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez from Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View November 12th.

Bradley (27-0, 11 KO’s) is looking for exposure. He believes that Shaw and Thompson were holding him back from being an elite fighter. The specifics as to what went wrong with his contract are not clear, though Shaw has claimed it is a breach of contract and that Bradley had become difficult to deal with. There is always speculation that Arum and Top Rank may have been getting to Bradley, but that is difficult to comprehend with Arum having premier fighters, one being Pacquiao.

Either way this becomes a good deal for Bradley, who got a 10th round technical decision over Devon Alexander back in January that unified the 140-pound titles. Since then the litigation has been an obstacle, as was the World Boxing Council that stripped him of the title because he refused to defend against Amir Khan. It would have been a career pay day for Bradley had he opposed Khan. He wanted that fight, but specifics of a contract, not disclosed, caused Bradley to walk away.

All Bradley wants is respect and recognition. The deal with Top Rank can enhance his opportunity towards regaining respect with boxing fans. They said Bradley was avoiding Khan, that the win over Alexander was not a great effort. “I want to be busy,” he said. “I will fight at 147 or 140, wherever they want me to. Casamayor is tough and a good challenge and I am excited to be back in the ring.”

But the issue here is not just Timothy Bradley. Every fighter around his weight class wants a shot at Manny Pacquiao. The fight, and maybe a win over Khan could have put him a step closer to a bout with Pacquiao or some of the other world class fighters in the Top Rank stable at 147. Bradley says he did not look at Top Rank as a way of getting closer to an eventual fight with Pacquiao. It was just the right deal and proper route to go, though it does makes it easier for him to get closer for Arum to make that fight pending on what Pacquiao plans to do in the next year.

“I wanted to be with a real promoter,” Bradley said in his defense of getting away from Shaw and Thompson. He has one less promotional fee to pay, the WBC, when they stripped him. “I thought it was funny the way they stripped me, the only way they could get the championship away from me. They know how to promote,” he added about Top Rank.

In defense of Shaw, he attempted to get Bradley the exposure and the fight with Khan was delivered. However, along the way, there were issues. Arum said any lawsuits about the contract will be addressed, in the meantime he is happy to have Bradley under the Top Rank banner. It begins with the upcoming fight with Casamayor, a veteran who will be the underdog.

But will a win for Bradley get him a step closer to fighting Pacquiao? “If I beat Amir Khan it wouldn’t have done anything for me career,” he says. “I did not sign this deal to get Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. I did this to get exposure and I did not get that when I beat Alexander. Boxing is my life and I was not getting what I deserved where I was.”

Arum, through a spokesperson at Top Rank said, “Bradley will have his name on a list for Pacquiao.” In other words, if Pacquiao defeats Marquez, as expected, and if the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight does not come off, then Bradley could be considered for Pacquiao. There reportedly is no guarantee in the contract that Bradley has a deal to fight Pacquiao. And there are no specifics about any financial clauses that Bradley may have received when he signed his new deal.

“There was never a plan for me,” says Bradley about his former promoters. “Now I have one. The offer to fight Khan was good but there was no plan to promote me. If I get Manny Pacquiao, that will be great. I can give him a good fight. But this was all about me and it was not giving me what I deserved.”

He still holds the WBO junior middleweight title and that will be on the line against Casamayor. Timothy Bradley got his deal, now it is in his hands.

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