By Chris Robinson
On March 16, WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley found himself in a position some may not have expected, as he was deadlocked in a fire fight with Ruslan Provodnikov.
Facing off with the durable Russian inside of the Home Depot Center (now the StubHub Center) in Carson, Calif. on HBO’s airwaves, Bradley may have taken much more punishment than he would have preferred, yet he was also able to showcase an abundance of heart and grit that helped him push towards a unanimous decision victory.
Bradley now finds himself lined up with an even bigger opportunity, as he is scheduled to defend his belt on Oct. 12 inside of the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas against Mexico City’s Juan Manuel Marquez.
And while the fight is an excellent matchup, Bradley doesn’t seem so sure he will be following through with the match.
During a recent interview with BoxingScene Radio, BoxingScene’s official audio show, the 29-year old champion expressed his frustrations and concerns about the drug testing dilemma surrounding the match.
Bradley claims that in his contract, it states that USADA and/or VADA will be overseeing the testing, while Bob Arum, Top Rank CEO and Bradley’s promoter, claimed he would be working with the Nevada State Athletic Commission to handle the testing.
So serious is Bradley about the matter that he insisted he will walk away from the fight if his contract isn’t honored.
“In my contract it says USADA/VADA,” Bradley stated. “That’s what it says in my contract so that’s what I’m going with. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t happen it’s a breach of my contract.
“At this point, if they are not going to be involved, there is not going to be a fight at all,” Bradley added. “Just put it that way. I would definitely embrace walking away from this situation.”
Curious for an insider’s opinion on the matter, I caught up with unbeaten welterweight hopeful Jessie Vargas recently and asked him for his thoughts on Bradley’s stance.
“That does surprise you,” the 24-year old Vargas would say of Bradley’s attitude. “Once the fight is already set, you wouldn’t think it has anything to do with it. But that’s how he thinks and he has a reason for it. Me, personally, I think my job is to fight and if I were to get that opportunity, if he were to get out, I would get in right away. That would benefit me.”
Still, Vargas does seem to understand where Bradley is coming from by being so vocal about the issue.
“You’ve got to respect that,” Vargas stated. “That’s what the sport is coming down to, for us to want to make it a clean sport. Because, recently, we’ve had a lot of problems where we’ve caught people using steroids and a couple of things. Especially in these last two years. What can I say?”
So hungry for a big moment of his own, Vargas even suggested that drug testing wouldn’t be an issue if he were to land a big fight in the near future.
“There’s two ways to look at it,” Vargas said. “You either have to enforce it or you just say ‘I’m going to rely on my technique and I don’t care about the rest.’ Personally, that’s the way I am.”
“Who knows, maybe a year from now, two years from now, my mind will change but right now I just want to fight,” Vargas added. “But, you know what? I respect it and as I go along with knowing more about it, I’m sure that I will be more interested in doing the same thing that Timothy is.”