By Robert Morales
It was the kind of victory you sort of want to throw back. After sitting down with Timothy Bradley on Tuesday, it seemed like he almost felt that way about his win over Manny Pacquaio on June 9, 2012.
Sitting inside a dressing room at Fortune Gym in Hollywood, Calif., Bradley entertained a reporter while Top Rank Inc. spokesman Lee Samuels listened in. About eight minutes into what turned out to be a 15-minute conversation, Bradley was asked straight out if the joy he should have felt by defeating Pacquiao was taken away by the hoopla surrounding his controversial split decision win.
"Yes, absolutely," said Bradley, who will defend the welterweight title he took from Pacquiao on March 16 when he takes on Ruslan Provodnikov at Home Depot Center (on HBO). "There was really no joy in beating Pacquiao. There was really no joy after the fight itself. You know, all the backlash I took, all the comments I had to deal with. Walking down the street, feeling like, you know, that I got a gift was ... it's the worst feeling ever.
"Especially for an athlete and a person. To have people talk about you in the media and don't give you no credit whatsoever. Granted that I was injured during the fight, granted that I stayed in the fight; there was no positive out of it."
Bradley wasn't whining. He was simply showing a human side some don't want to show.
"The sucky part about the whole thing is that the perception of the public is that I lost that fight and that alone really killed me," Bradley said. "You know what I mean? It really killed me."
Many fighters would go in an opposite direction when addressing a situation like this, and say things like, "As long as I know I won and the judges say I did, who cares what anybody else thinks?" Not Bradley. He was refreshingly forthcoming about something that really seemed to tug at his heart.
The WBO had a panel of five judges review the fight and all had Pacquiao winning. That bugged Bradley. He wondered why there wasn't the same uproar about Juan Manuel Marquez's controversial loss to Pacquiao in their third fight.
Also, at the behest of Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes Bradley and Pacquiao, there was an investigation into the fight by the Nevada attorney general to see if there was any funny business. The determination was that there wasn't.
What Bradley never could figure is, why would anyone think along those lines when Pacquiao is Arum's goose that lays the golden egg?
"And then a lot of people are like, 'Oh, Top Rank set this up.' Are you serious?" Bradley said, laughing sarcastically. "That's their cash cow. Why would Top Rank do something stupid like that? Like, this guy (Pacquiao) is the money man in the business. Why would they (expletive) up their business? Excuse my French. But seriously, I was like, 'You've gotta be kidding me.'
"People said, 'Oh, Bob this and Bob that.' They're crazy. I just think it's the dumbest thing ever."
Apparently, someone's fans were taking things a bit too seriously.
"Bob got death threats," chimed in Samuels, who until then had just observed. "He was scared."
"I was getting death threats, too, people sending me packages in the mail," Bradley said.
No Way Was Bradley Going To Quit
Bradley was faced with a decision in his fight with Pacquiao - quit because of two painful foot injuries sustained rather early in the fight - or suck it up and fight in pain.
Bradley said he stretched the ligaments in his left foot - he initially thought the foot was broken - in the second round when he "stepped funny" while trying to avoid one of Pacquiao's punches.
"It was very painful every time I stepped around the ring," he said.
Bradley said he twisted his right ankle in the fourth round when he stepped back and lost his footing. Suddenly, he was battling pain on both sides.
"And it's like, 'Do you quit, Tim?' " Bradley said. "All the hard work you put in, all the people who paid 60 dollars to watch you fight, all the people that paid big, top money to watch the fight and for whatever reason, that's their hard-earned money. Do you quit on the stool and give up everything you've been working for?
"Or do you continue on to fight and just go through and deal with the pain? And do it for the fans and your family and yourself? So I chose to do that, just deal with it through the fight, and I just found a way to win the fight. I was making Pacquiao miss a lot, started landing my jab, good body shots. I was controlling the action."
Bradley said he has gone back and watched the fight several times and scores it 116-112 for himself. And by the way, he apparently was not overly impressed with Pacquiao, who had gained a reputation as quite a vicious fighter.
"I was in there with the best fighter in the world and he couldn't knock me out and he couldn't hurt me," Bradley said. "If you saw pictures after the fight, dude, my face was clean. I felt like I was untouched, unfazed. ... After the first round, I was like, 'This is it? It's not too bad.' I'm serious, I'm like, 'This ain't that bad.' "
No Real Dislike Between Bradley and Roach
Bradley and trainer Freddie Roach have traded barbs recently since the fight was made with Provodnikov, who, like Pacquiao, is trained by Roach. Roach said the other day that Bradley was going to run like Forrest Gump when he feels Provodnikov's power, just like Roach believes Bradley did against Pacquiao.
Nothing personal, Bradley said.
"Freddie Roach is more of a mind-game type of guy," Bradley said. "Every time I see Freddie Roach, he gives me the head nod. He respects me as a fighter, he respects me as a person. Freddie roach knows that this is business and it's all a head game that he tries to play with his fighters' opponents. That stuff doesn't work with me.
"I've been in the game for a while now, I've seen it all. I've had guys talk about me, talk about my mother, say whatever they want to say. But Freddie ain't in the ring fighting for this guy."
Schaefer: Country Will Root on Guerrero
Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero's plight his been well-chronicled. He helped his wife, Casey, get through leukemia - she is in remission - and at one point Guerrero vacated one of his world titles to do just that.
That's why, Richard Schaefer intimated, Guerrero could be the fan favorite when he challenges Floyd Mayweather Jr. for his welterweight belt on May 4 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime pay-per-view).
"He has a story to really break though to the general market and you don't always have that," said Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Guerrero. "With Robert Guerrero, you have that kind of person that America will be watching and America will be cheering for Robert Guerrero. With the different CBS elements which will come into play and the different platforms, the all access shows, America and the world will get to know Robert Guerrero."
High Praise For Mayweather
That doesn't mean Schaefer believes Guerrero will beat Mayweather, though he does believe he has a solid chance to hand Mayweather his first loss. And, actually, Schaefer gave Mayweather a review that some might buy and some might think is far-fetched.
"He is a once-in-a-generation talent, maybe the best, most complete fighter we have ever seen - period," Schaefer said of Mayweather, who has toiled for Schaefer and Golden Boy the past several years without a promotional contract. "The fact he is the biggest pay-per-view star means he also has a huge following. He has a huge number of fans which support him, respect him, admire him for his talent and what he stands for.
"And he has a large group of people who don't lke him because of his flash and so on. If you add them together, you have a very loud and opinionated group of people."
Now We Have Two Big-shot TV Arms
With Floyd Mayweather's recent announcement he had signed a long-term deal with Showtime - bolting from HBO - Schaefer believes this is a time for boxing and its followers to rejoice.
Schaefer, who does a lot of business with Showtime, had an interesting spin on Showtime's surge to power.
"First of all, I am not going to say anything negative about HBO," Schaefer said. "HBO has a terrific boxing program and was for many years the industrial leader. The gap was so wide. Showtime was perceived as the far-away second and picked up the fights HBO didn't want while operating on a much smaller budget."
Therein lies the rub.
"I think it has changed because the (Showtime) budget has gotten bigger and the subsequent growth has been phenomenal," Schaefer said. "I'm not only talking about the last 12 months in the sports department, but also in original programming. I think they have given HBO a run for its money.
"That does not mean HBO isn't a terrific company that has terrific management and puts on great fights. We have now a real competition and I think that is great for fight fans. Now instead of having one company with deep pockets, you have two companies with deep pockets competing for the fights. Great for the fighters and the fight fan as well."
Bronchitis, or ...?
When you're a fighter who has the reputation of someone who hates to train, bad jokes are bound to rear their ugly heads when such a fighter has to pull out of a scheduled fight. Such was the case this week when it was revealed heavyweight Chris Arreola had pulled out of his March 9 title-elimination bout with Bermane Stiverne that was to be contested at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, Calif.
On Tuesday, at Fortune Gym, the joke going around was, "Did Arreola have bronchitis or beerchitis?"
"Unfortunately, when things like this happen people always think the worst," said Arreola's promoter, Dan Goossen, who said Arreola's bronchitis is legitimate.
When Arreola helped play host to a Jan. 23 news conference promoting this fight, he did indeed look in good shape for being some six weeks out from the fight.
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News and BoxingScene.com.