By Keith Idec
There are days – many days, honestly – when Timothy Bradley thinks it’s time to call it a career.
He has made millions of dollars and has wisely invested much of his earnings. The Palm Springs, California, native also has won world titles in two weight classes, engaged in an unforgettable battle against Ruslan Provodnikov, and owns legitimate victories over former or current world champions Miguel Vazquez, Junior Witter, Kendall Holt, Nate Campbell, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, Joel Casamayor, Provodnikov, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jessie Vargas and Brandon Rios over the past nine years.
There’s little left to accomplish for the 33-year-old Bradley, who hasn’t fought since Manny Pacquiao soundly defeated him in their third fight April 9 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Bradley and his wife/manager, Monica, often discuss, too, that Bradley has given so much of himself in boxing rings since he turned pro in August 2004 that the risk of fighting again might out-weigh the reward.
The realistic former junior welterweight and welterweight champion fully understands that he has engaged in numerous fights that have taken a considerable toll on him physically.
“I could tell you this much,” Bradley told BoxingScene.com. “When you enter that ring, you know when you come out you’re not going to be the same. Taking those punches to the head – with all the research done nowadays, we know the after-effects of taking shots to the head. Same with football, or any combat sports where you take shots to the head. There will some repercussions after [you retire].”
Therein lies Bradley’s daily dilemma – is it time to retire?
His head tells him yes. His heart tells him no.
Timothy Bradley’s heart, as has so often been the case on fight night, will win this internal battle, at least temporarily.
“It makes me think about it a lot,” Bradley said regarding retirement. “Honestly, I think about it every single day. I do have a great life. My wife and I have done very well financially, with our earnings. I could return or I could hang it up. I’m in a good position. Right now, I’ve had a long layoff and I’ve been helping out with my son’s high school football team, coaching there.
“And my wife is gonna venture off into the restaurant business. She’s getting ready to open up her first restaurant in the beginning of 2017. So there’s a lot going on. But the urge I get, the thing that keeps me wanting to come back is, I don’t wanna retire in the losing column. I wanna retire in the winning column. And I wanna see if I can win one more world championship. And then I’ll be OK. Then I’ll be done.”
Countless fighters have succumbed to the dangerous urge to take one fight too many. Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KOs, 1 NC) hopes he doesn’t join that extremely lengthy list.
Nevertheless, a bout between Bradley and Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) has been discussed for several months. Bryan Perez, Cotto’s close friend and business partner, told espn.com earlier this week that Cotto is more than open to fighting Bradley in February or March.
Whoever he fights next, Bradley has accepted that he won’t feel quite right about retiring if this third Pacquiao fight is the final memory fight fans have of him. Still, Bradley doesn’t offer any excuses as to why he wasn’t able to execute the game plan he and trainer Teddy Atlas crafted throughout training camp.
Pacquiao dropped Bradley twice on en route to winning a unanimous decision by the same score on all three cards (116-110). Bradley doesn’t think the first knockdown, which occurred with slightly less than 20 seconds left in the seventh round, should’ve counted.
Other than that, however, he can’t comprehend what went wrong against Pacquiao six months ago.
“I was on point, man,” Bradley said. “If I was gonna win a fight [against Pacquiao], it was gonna be that night. I was in superior shape and I was on everything he likes to do. And I knew everything he liked to do. But you’ve gotta be mentally tough all the way through. And for some reason, man – I’m not sure if it’s the history of it with Pacquiao – I’m not sure what happened. But during the course of the fight, I gave in. I don’t know why. … But my trainer always says, ‘You’ve got to be a professional at all times.’ And I wasn’t a professional that night.”
Bradley will face Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) from a far safer position when the Filipino superstar opposes Las Vegas’ Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) on November 5 at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. He’ll be part of a Top Rank broadcast team that’ll also include former ESPN boxing analyst Brian Kenny, who’ll serve as the blow-by-blow announcer, and polarizing ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith.
The low-key Bradley is looking forward to the task.
“You couldn’t get a better broadcasting team, man,” Bradley said. “I like Stephen A. I like Brian Kenny. He called the first Pacquiao fight, and he was spot on with everything he analyzed. This guy knows boxing very well. I think that me being the color guy, we’ll feed off each other. Brian is a smart guy. He knows me. I know him very well. And Stephen A., I met him one time, maybe twice. But he’s a sports guy, man. And he has his opinions.
“I’m not sure how much boxing he knows, but we’ll see. He might surprise me, man. When you involve Stephen A., you know there’s gonna be controversy. A lot of people have a lot of [criticism] about that guy. But he’s good at what he does. That’s the reason why you see him on TV, man. He brings that type of feel and he’s gonna keep it 100-percent real. He’s gonna call it like he sees it. And you’ve gotta respect a guy like that. Even though people don’t like to hear the truth, you’re gonna hear the truth come out of his mouth and what he believes. I respect him.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.