By Jake Donovan
Tim Bradley knew from the moment he agreed to terms to face Manny Pacquiao that he would be the underdog. The unbeaten Californian also knew he’d be no better than the second most recognizable face on the promotional tour, as most of the focus will center around his high-profile superstar opponent.
What he wants to make clear, though, is that none of those points should translate to the assumption that he’s just showing up as the willing B-side for the June 9 affair in Las Vegas.
“I know it’s going to be a hell of a fight,” Bradley (28-0, 12KO) admitted to the assembled media on hand during Tuesday’s press conference in Los Angeles. “I see myself as the new face of boxing and come June 9, you will see history be made.”
The event marks Bradley’s first pay-per-view headliner as he rises in weight to challenge for Pacquiao’s alphabet welterweight strap. Bradley presently serves as a 140 lb. titlist, having held at least one belt since his road win over Junior Witter that will have been four years ago come fight night.
The May ’08 title-winning effort marked his first trip outside of California, but has strayed from the nest. Bradley has since fought in Canada, Mississippi, Michigan and most recently Las Vegas, where he served as the chief support to Pacquiao’s narrow and disputed points win over Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight last November.
Bradley’s appearance on that card was his first since signing with Top Rank last summer. He was informed up front that while a showdown with Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38KO) was the idea, it wasn’t guaranteed to take place right away.
Mere months after his eight-round stoppage of Joel Casamayor, Bradley received something better than a guarantee.
“This is something I’ve dreamed of my whole life as a fighter, for 18 years since I was an amateur,” Bradley expressed in appreciation of his hard work being recognized in the form of the premium assignment. “To be in there with the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound is a great honor.”
It’s one that is well-earned, as Bradley has proven his worth over the course of his stay atop the 140 lb. division. Hard work, dedication and beating everyone in his path has led to this opportunity, though signing with Top Rank also helped tremendously.
There was a time when the Las Vegas-based company wasn’t jumping through hoops to make the fight, as Bradley’s skill level far exceeded his notoriety. Still, the sculpted pound-for-pound entrant was always on the radar in terms of talent.
“The first time I saw Tim Bradley fight was when he fought Lamont Peterson,” recalls Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, who represented Peterson at the time of their Dec. ’09 fight. “We brought Lamont to Palm Springs, near Timothy’s hometown. Lamont’s trainer Barry Hunter said, ‘No problem, we’re going to win this fight easy.’
“Well, not only did they not win the fight easy, they lost every round. That’s when I knew Tim Bradley was a hell of a fighter.”
He’s also cordial and carries himself with class, as evidenced by the smiles gracing the faces of both fighters during Tuesday’s presser – Pacquiao even played photographer at the end of the presser, snapping a few stills of a posing Bradley in the process. More of the same can be expected when the press tour hits New York City on Thursday.
After that, the world can expect to see Bradley’s game face.
“I respect every opponent, every team we’ve ever met. But I want to say this – we’re not coming on June 9 to make friends,” insists Joel Diaz, who has served as Bradley’s chief trainer throughout his entire pro career. “We’re coming to fight. We’re not showing up just to (give) a good performance. We’re there to win the fight.
“I’m going to draw up a plan to go to war, and take that throne from Manny Pacquiao.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]