By Jake Donovan
The promise made to Tim Bradley when he signed with Top Rank was that the big fights would come in due time.
His handlers officially made good on that promise on Thursday evening, as the unbeaten Californian has announced that he is signed and sealed for a dream fight with Manny Pacquiao.
The two will collide on June 9 in Las Vegas, with the official announcement to come once Top Rank has all signed contracts in its possession.
“It’s official, my manager (Cameron Dunkin) has made my dreams come true,” Bradley said in a statement through his Twitter account. “I have signed my contract to fight Manny Pa(c)quiao. It’s time to get to work!”
Bob Arum respectfully declined comment. The Hall of Fame promoter was en route to attend the funeral of boxing icon Angelo Dundee and wished to wait until he heard from his office that no loose ends remain before speaking on the June blockbuster.
The fight comes less than year after Bradley (28-0, 12KO) officially changed promoters, freeing himself from a contract with longtime co-promoter Gary Shaw after a lengthy court battle to join the Vegas-based company last summer.
It was made clear to the reigning 140 lb. king upon signing that while he would be groomed as a future option for Pacquiao, such an opportunity wouldn’t happen right away. What he was promised was that Top Rank – the industry leader when it comes to developing stars – would do everything in its power to enhance his public appeal in efforts to maximize his earning potential should such a fight come around.
The deal that was struck is rumored to provide just that. While Bradley refuses to speak on record of the exact amounts he stands to make, industry-wide speculation puts his guaranteed purse somewhere in the ballpark of $5 million, plus whatever was negotiated in the way of pay-per-view upside and other means of additional revenue to be generated from the bout.
Patience proved to be a virtue for the sculpted Californian, who caught a lot of flak for bailing on a discussed showdown with Amir Khan last summer. The fight would’ve netted Bradley a career-high payday, but he and his team instead decided that their time was done with Shaw and Thompson Boxing, opting to explore other options.
Bradley’s argument at the time was that he felt his status as the top 140 lb. fighter in the world should have allowed him to have more than one option (Khan) for his next fight.
He also felt that beating Khan at that time wouldn’t have done any more for his career than his previous win over Devon Alexander earlier in the year. Bradley topped Alexander in their Jan. ’11 unification bout, one that was criticized for being poorly promoted and attended, and coming with little fanfare.
Bradley felt that fighting and beating Khan at the time of the fight would’ve been more of the same and sought an avenue that would bring more familiarity to his name as a prizefighter.
In signing with Top Rank, Bradley was given the co-feature slot on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s close and controversial points win over Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight last November. Bradley’s evening went far less troublesome, dominating faded former two-division champ Joel Casamayor en route to an eighth round stoppage.
Once plans fell apart for the umpteenth time to get Pacquiao and Mayweather together in the ring, Bradley raced to the front of the line in terms of most logical next best options for the Filipino superstar.
He was forced to sweat out discussions that also included Lamont Peterson (whom Bradley soundly outpointed more than two years ago, but who came back to defeat Khan last December), a rematch with Miguel Cotto and a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.
All it took was for Mayweather to reveal his plans to face Cotto in May, for Top Rank to reshuffle its own lineup, moving Bradley towards Pacquiao and planning a summer showdown between Peterson and Marquez. The hope was to create a Final Four with the winners facing each other later in the year.
However, Peterson threw a wrench into those plans by instead opting for a rematch with Khan, leaving Marquez as the odd man out.
Fortunately for Bradley, his future is secure, or so he suggested Thursday evening. Even better for him that it comes at a time when Pacquiao no longer looks quite like… Pacquiao.
“It wasn’t so much that Marquez exposed Pacquiao, as much as he is not spectacular,” Bradley said in an interview with Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times. “It’s harder for Pacquiao to land his shots now. Marquez had Pacquiaio’s number and is 38 (years old) and past his prime. I’m younger, faster and stronger.”
Come June 9 he’ll also be richer beyond his wildest dreams, as well as a man for whom promises were kept.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]