Is Timothy Bradley a Hall of Famer?
Published: July 28, 2017
The career of one of the best ambassadors for the sport of boxing may be coming to an end. According to sources and reported to RingTV, former two-division world champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KOs) will be announcing his retirement from boxing. Bradley has been out of the ring since his loss to Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) in their rubber match in April 2016. The third fight with Pacquiao was the second with new trainer Teddy Atlas with Pacquiao coming off of a reported shoulder injury and having been out of the ring for 11 months. In the fight, Bradley was knocked down twice and lost a unanimous decision to Pacquiao.
Since the fight, Bradley has spent more time commentating ringside for Top Rank. Most recently with ESPN for the Pacquiao-Horn fight. There have been rumors of fights with Miguel Cotto, Adrien Broner, and a rematch with Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) but none have gotten out of the realm of being more than just a rumor.
With the strong possibility of Bradley retiring many will look back and examine his career. Financially, Bradley has been successful having headlined four major pay-per-views including several seven-figure paydays. The foundation of Bradley’s career was put together in the Super Lightweight division (140).
In 2008, Bradley took the risk that many fighters will not take in traveling outside of his comfort zone to fight overseas. At the time the WBC 140-pound champion was Junior Witter (43-8-2, 23 KOs) whose only loss was to Zab Judah (43-9, 30 KOs) eight years earlier. The California native was able to score a knock down with an overhand right in the sixth round to come out with a split decision victory in Nottingham, England.
Afterward, Bradley continued to press forward with a victory over top contender Edner Cherry (36-7-2, 19 KOs). He followed that up with a unification bout with arguably the hardest puncher in the division WBO champion Kendall Holt (28-6, 16 KOs).
The fight was the first major example of the kind of shape Bradley gets himself into and the amount of heart and resilience he displays. Holt was able to knock Bradley down with big left hooks that would have stopped most fighters in the first and final rounds. The man known as the “Desert Storm” stayed the course against Holt and won enough rounds to win a unanimous decision from all three judges. Bradley would drop the WBC title and keep the WBO title moving forward.
The next big fight for Bradley came against an undefeated Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs). Against Peterson, Bradley showed his class as he used a vaunted body attack to win a wide unanimous decision. 2009 may have been the best year for Bradley inside the ring with wins over Holt and Peterson. The only setback being a fight with Nate Campbell that was ruled a No-Contest after originally being called a third round stoppage victory.
In 2010, Bradley only fought once making a pit stop in the welterweight division to face another undefeated fighter in Argentina’s Luis Carlos Abregu (36-3, 29 KOs). Once again Bradley came out victorious with another unanimous decision as a prelude of things to come at welterweight. The next fight would be the biggest of Bradley’s career up to that point against the undefeated WBC champion Devon Alexander (26-4, 14 KOs).
The fight with Alexander would be highly anticipated given the HBO treatment of a big fight. Bradley-Alexander was the quintessential 50/50 fight with Alexander coming off of impressive wins over Junior Witter and Juan Urango including unifying the WBC title with the IBF 140-pound title. Unfortunately, the fight itself did not live up to the hype, as it was a foul-filled affair with an abundance of head butts. Bradley ended up winning a decision after the bout was stopped in the 10th round due to cuts on Alexander. From here, Bradley sat out the rest of 2011 until November having signed with promoter Top Rank to set his sights on the welterweight division specifically Manny Pacquiao.
Bradley’s reign at 140-pounds ended with an eighth round stoppage over the faded Joel Casamayor (38-6-1, 22 KOs) on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Marquez rubber match. Looking at Bradley’s accomplishments at 140-pounds he may have been the most accomplished in the weight class since Kostya Tszyu. The “Desert Storm” made five successful title defenses, and unified titles in the division twice. The only fight missing from Bradley’s record at 140-pounds was one with British star Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs).
What Bradley may be best known for by a majority of the public and certainly the casual boxing fan is his fights with Pacquiao. When Bradley stepped in the ring with Pacquiao the first time in June 2012, he could not have imagined the amount of backlash he would receive. When the final bell rang to signify the end of the fight, many fans and pundits thought Pacquiao pulled off another victory. The decision was read as a split decision victory for Bradley making him the new WBO welterweight champion. The controversy over the decision put Bradley in a position where he was awarded a victory but given little to no credit. This would change Bradley’s mentality inside and out of the ring leaving him with a big chip on his shoulder.
After Pacquiao, Bradley would meet Russian puncher Ruslan Provodnikov (25-5, 18 KOs) in March 2013. The two men fought in what would become the fight of the year in 2013 in a vicious bout where both men took a beating. Enough can’t be said about the heart and determination Bradley showed against Provodnikov. The complications Bradley suffered in the aftermath of the Provodnikov fight may be one of the reasons he is looking at retiring at 33 years of age.
Bradley regained much of the respect he lost after the Pacquiao fight with his showing against Provodnikov. It was now time for Bradley to put everything together for what would be the biggest victory of his career. In October 2013, Bradley faced Mexican Legend Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs). Marquez was coming off the biggest win of his career with a sixth round knockout over rival Manny Pacquiao. This was an opportunity to get a leg up on Pacquiao by defeating his greatest rival. That night in what many regard as the best performance of his career Bradley out boxed Marquez to win a clear decision. It was the clearest victory over Marquez since Floyd Mayweather shut him out in 2009.
While 2009 was a great year for Bradley inside the ring, 2013 was even bigger as his win over Marquez was on the biggest stage in the sport. Bradley is also one of the few fighters to demand stringent drug testing in his fights with VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association). The next few years for Bradley were up and down with a loss to Pacquiao in a rematch in April 2014, a controversial draw with Diego Chaves (26-2-1, 22 KOs) and victories over Jessie Vargas and Brandon Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs).
If Bradley does, in fact, retire it is unfortunate that he never faced some of his fellow welterweights on the other side of the promotional aisle such as Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) or Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs). Regardless, with the work he did at 140, his fights with Pacquiao and Marquez and his fight with Provodnikov, the "Desert Storm" has etched out quite a career. If the retirement does come to fruition, the day his name is on the ballot for Canastota to join the Hall of Fame he may be greeted with open arms. Whether you agree or disagree it cannot be argued that Bradley has been nothing but a role model in a sport that has more villains than heroes.
(Feature Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)