By Jake Donovan
While all involved insist that Tim Bradley’s November 12 fight with Joel Casamayor is not an audition as a future opponent for Manny Pacquiao (who faces Juan Manuel Marquez in the main event, that won’t stop the undefeated pound-for-pound entrant from making a lasting impression on the viewing audience.
What he won’t promise is a knockout performance. If it happens, so be it. But Bradley is comfortable in being the fighter that he is, and doesn’t plan to change up for the sake of appeasing critics.
“I’m gonna put on a show, but not try to be something that I’m not,” Bradley (27-0, 11KO) insists, though while explaining that his knockout-to-win ratio doesn’t necessarily translate to a dull fighter. "I won’t go for the knockout because that’s not who I am. I’m gonna fight my game plan and I’m gonna look spectacular.”
By his own admission, it’s been a while since Bradley has been in anything resembling a spectacular fight.
His 140 lb. unification bout with Devon Alexander should’ve been a much greater event – and fight – given the championship status at stake, as well as the fact that they were both undefeated fighters in the prime of their respective careers.
Instead, the event turned out to be a bust on every level. It was misplaced at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. It was poorly attended. It never came close to matching the $4 million investment made by HBO in securing the fight. Ultimately, it was a largely forgettable fight, with Bradley winning a technical decision after a headbutt-induced cut and complaints by Alexander of compromised vision halted the contest in the 10th round.
“I wasn’t happy with the performance of the Alexander fight,” Bradley admits. “I can’t make the guy fight. We saw it with Nonito Donaire (against Omar Narvaez). We saw it when Manny Pacquiao fought Shane Mosley. We’ll see what Casamayor shows up, but we’re ready to fight.”
The bout will Bradley’s first since his aforementioned showdown with Alexander, and will also serve as his debut with Top Rank, with whom he signed earlier this summer after a lengthy court battle put him on the sidelines.
While some have called into question what a 40-year old Casamayor – himself quite often a tough fighter to watch – brings to the table, Bradley views the fight and the event itself as an opportunity to shine.
“It’s very important for me to put on a great show. It’s an honor to even be on this card.”
Many have joked that Bradley will get lost in the spotlight, performing in front a sold-out arena at the MGM Grand after a career largely spent in front of miniscule audiences.
To his credit, the sculpted Californian has taken the criticism in jest, but also points out the very win that put him on the championship map as proof that he can get the job done no matter the surroundings.
“I went to England to fight Junior Witter in front of (thousands of) fans of his,” Bradley notes of the night he won his first major championship. “If I can handle that type of pressure, I can handle anything.”
What Bradley needs to handle on November 12 is the crafty – and often frustrating – style of Casamayor, a former Olympic Gold medalist and two-division champion who has shown throughout his career the ability to adapt to any style.
A win will be par for the course for Bradley, who has done nothing but that since turning pro in 2004. What he needs is to look great in doing so.
“Casamayor is one of the greatest southpaw fighters in the business. He’s a very mature fighter. He uses his skills to smother fighters. We’re prepared for anything that Casamayor brings that night.
“In the back of my head I know I have to put on a great show, but I know I will.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected].