By Jake Donovan
Leave it to the one fight on the card receiving little to no positive ink to spice things up ahead of Saturday’s big pay-per-view event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
From the moment thatTim Bradley’s 140 lb. title defense against faded former two division champion Joel Casamayor was named as the chief support for this weekend’s telecast, the groans and moans have been heard throughout the industry.
The fight marks Bradley’s debut under the Top Rank banner, though it has been widely questioned why matchmakers chose Casamayor of all opponents. The 40-year old wasn’t the easiest fighter in the world to watch during his prime, and hasn’t secured a significant win in more than three years.
What the silver-tongued Cuban hasn’t lost, however, is his gift for gab and ability to get under his opponent’s skin. It was mission accomplished, as Casamayor clearly got inside Bradley’s head (albeit in a completely unprofessional manner, loaded with F-bombs and racial slurs) during Thursday’s press conference to announce the full undercard.
The day went smooth up until it was Bradley’s turn to speak. Halfway through his speech, the undefeated titlist was forced to contend with Casamayor’s barking of “Sit down!” while trying to address the media on hand.
That’s when things intensified, though promoter Bob Arum – who one day ago praised Pacquiao and Marquez for the absence of trash talk throughout their promotion – told both fighters to shut up and sit down.
Things were relatively peaceful to that point, with Arum having something nice to say for all of the undercard players, including Casamayor.
“I’ve known Joel Casamayor from his Olympic accomplishments and from his pro career through the years. He is a tough, terrific fighter who is coming to take the championship from Timothy Bradley.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Casamayor keeping his initial speech short and to the point. After thanking God, various promoters and his team (pretty much in that order), he informed the crowd on hand of what the fight means to him from a historical perspective.
“I feel great, had a terrific training camp and feel strong,” Casamayor said before getting to the relevant stuff. “I’m a four-time world champion in two weight classes. On Saturday night, I will break the great Kid Gavilan’s record by winning five titles in three weight classes.”
It’s worth noting that Gavilan was only recognized as a world champion at welterweight, having won a Cuban version of the lightweight title early in his career and falling short in his bid at the middleweight crown. But far be it from anyone to deny Casamayor in his quest to properly motivate himself for Saturday night, least of all his opponent, who doesn’t believe the press clippings that suggest the veteran fighter is ripe (if not long overdue) for the taking.
“I know the media has had a lot to say about this fight. I don’t pay attention to any of that,” Bradley insists. “I’ m prepared for a tough fight.”
What he wasn’t quite prepared for was being heckled at the podium, by Casamayor no less.
“You just promise to bring it on November 12,” Bradley exclaimed while Casamayor stood up and pointed his finger downward while yelling for his opponent to shut up and sit down.
As is often the case when he’s in the ring, Bradley refused to take the incoming fire lying down.
“I sit down when I want to sit down. Don’t nobody tell me when to sit down. I hope you bring that fire to the ring. Bring that f****n’ fire to the ring!”
Hopefully the fireworks extend well beyond Thursday’s presser and carry over into the ring on Saturday. While many in the media pride themselves on predictions for any given fight, being dead wrong on the entertainment value of this bout is a loss that all are willing to take.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]