By Chris Robinson
Last Saturday night in Pontiac, Michigan, WBO junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley recaptured the WBC crown he once held with a technical decision victory over southpaw stylist Devon Alexander. The fight didn't exactly live up to it's billing, as the action was sparse, with an accidental head butt suffered from Alexander forcing the contest to be halted just seconds into the tenth round.
Following the victory Bradley told HBO's Larry Merchant that he was open to facing Marcos Maidana and WBA champion Amir Khan, two of the biggest names in the division, and also mentioned that a bout with WBO welterweight king Manny Pacquiao was his ultimate goal. The Palm Springs fighter has the essential ambitions that we crave to see from our athletes and that in itself is a refreshing sign.
As my colleague Michael Marley noted, Bradley will be a free agent this coming May and all eyes will be on his next move. Wanting to get a better sense of what to expect from Bradley this year, especially his chants of Maidana, Khan and Pacquiao, I reached out to handful of boxing minds, some of whom are either connected to the fighter or his potential future prospects.
This is what the boxing world is saying about Timothy Bradley...
Maidana's trainer says he could give Bradley trouble
Veteran trainer and cut man Miguel Diaz is one of the most respected names in the Las Vegas area and he had a vested interest in Saturday night's bout. Diaz was the chief trainer for Maidana in his last bout, a riveting affair against Khan in which he dropped a close unanimous decision inside of the Mandalay Bay in December, but is known best for his association with Top Rank Promotions over the years.
The Argentinean seemed at a loss for how the fight between the two champions played out.
"Very confused fight," a bemused Diaz stated. "Very hard to follow who was winning the fight actually. How can I put it? Two guys fighting too fast. Like neither one had a plan. I think one of the announcers, Emanuel Steward, said it was a very hard fight to score. A lot of punches thrown but I can really only say five had a real effect."
Diaz fully intends to be in Maidana's corner for his next bout and when asked how his charge would fair against a guy like Bradley there were definite signs of confidence.
"Maidana is a hard fighter to fight because he's such a heavy puncher. One thing that I say about Maidana...he can give trouble to anybody."
Nate Campbell knows what Alexander is feeling
In August of 2009 former unified lightweight champion Nate Campbell moved up in weight to challenge Bradley for his WBO belt. The action between the two men was uneven for the first two rounds before Campbell suffered a nasty gash above his left eye in the third after copping a debilitating head butt from his younger foe.
The injury was bad enough to the point where Campbell claimed he couldn't continue due to affected vision, while later noting that he had bleeding behind his eye, and Bradley was awarded with a TKO victory that eventually was changed to a no contest. Campbell can definitely feel Alexander's pain and claims he saw the writing on the wall well ahead of time.
"Oh yes I did," Campbell stated when asked if he saw the Bradley-Alexander scrap. "It happened exactly like I thought it would. I knew that kid would get hurt from a head butt."
Campbell insists that despite Bradley's intentions that some kind of punishment must be dealt to him in the future to ensure that his head-ramming comes to an end.
"Here's what it is. As long as they allow him to keep getting away with head butts, and they keep saying it is accidental, somebody is going to get hurt."
Bert Sugar claims he over hyped the contest
When I asked boxing historian Bert Sugar if he was excited to watch the Bradley-Alexander fight he had his share of jokes but also admitted how much anticipation he had towards the bout. In the aftermath of the fight Sugar admits that he was to blame for perhaps praising the two pugs before their time was due.
"Well I'm not sure either one of them came out with a sterling performance or found their niche as the next big thing in boxing," Sugar claimed. "It was a very unsatisfactory ending to a fight that was good but not great. It was overhyped. And I was one of those doing the overhyping. I thought it would be far more confrontational than it was."
Alexander is catching some heat for the way the fight ended, as he told ringside physician Peter Samet that he was unable to see after catching a clean shot from Bradley's dome, but Sugar insists at only 23 years of age there is still time to mend his career.
"He can come back I just don't understand what it was. I don't think anybody does, that caused him to be butted on the left side of his head and not his right eye. He couldn't focus or open. I don't know what formality it is. I'm not going to play doctor here but it might take him a while to recover from the injury."
Satterfield looking past Khan, onto Pacquiao, for Bradley's next foe
AOL Fanhouse boxing editor and BoxingScene.com news editor Lem Satterfield is one of the busiest scribes in the sport, breaking relevant stories on the daily, and was in the Detroit area to check out the action up close and personal. Speaking from his Baltimore home on Sunday night, Satterfield claims that Bradley and Alexander should be given more credit for the type of fight they were producing before the unfortunate ending.
"I thought it was a great fight, I just think the ending leaves just a bad taste in the mouth of fans," Lem told me. "I think because of the nature of boxing, how boxing doesn't get to be seen in the eye of the public, that wars and brawls become the only thing they feel people can appreciate. But there was a lot of skill going on in there. A lot of skill that people don't get to see."
Satterfield also mentioned that Alexander would make for a great fight for Maidana but doesn't seem as thrilled about a Bradley-Khan encounter. Satterfield simply believes that Tim is on another level at this point and rather see him as an eventual candidate to face WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao at some point.
"I think he beats him," Satterfield says of Bradley's chances against Khan. "He's got a lot of skills that I think take him beyond a fight like that. I think that he showed that he should be considered the number one fighter at 140. That wasn't a fight in my mind to see who should fight Amir Khan, that was a fight to see who was the best at 140. Bradley should be fighting Pacquiao."
Many look at that as a mountain too steep for the 27-year old but Satterfield isn't as quick to write him off nor does he feel that he lacks the star appeal to be worthy of such a fight.
"Enough of this notion that he has to be bigger and better. By sheer nature the fact that he is facing Pacquiao, the fight will be known. Pacquiao sells the fight. Pacquiao sells it to the crossover audience and Bradley sells it to everybody else."
Burton's view from ringside
BoxingScene's Ryan Burton does a fine job covering the Las Vegas scene and made the jaunt to check out the action last weekend. Burton said he was seated near or next to such heads as MaxBoxing's Steve Kim, Yahoo! writer Kevin Iole, Sport Illustrated's Chris Mannix and ESPN's Dan Rafael, a sign that the media had a deep interest in the show.
I asked Burton how his overall experience was covering the card.
"It was freaking cold out there," Burton joked. "But it was cool. It's funny because some people really had Bradley far ahead and others thought the fight was real close. I had Bradley up six rounds to four."
Burton noted that there was an estimated attendance of 6,427 partisans in the crowd and during the post fight press conference he spoke to Bradley's promoter Gary Shaw, who told him that he would be angling for a shot at Floyd Mayweather Jr. next.
The Alexander-Bradley fight may not have lived up to its billing but HBO has another huge bout on deck when Fernando Montiel defends his bantamweight crown against Nonito Donaire on February 19th. For more coverage of that event please check the links below