Every once in a great while a fighter comes along, a fighter so determined, possessed, focused, rugged and dogged that virtually no one can dislike him. A fighter who reaches the pinnacle of the sport without the most talent, getting there based on one thing and one thing only, non-compromising relentlessness. On August 29th, 1983 God gave us one of those, Timothy Ray Bradley Jr was born in Palm Spring California. Timothy Bradley is the rarest of rare breeds a fighter’s fighter a 140-147 pound pitbull, a minuter Evander Holyfield that may not have had the respect of everyone before stepping in the ring but certainly got their respect in the ring.
Timothy Bradley Jr who is known as “Desert Storm” career reads like a Hollywood script. Starting his 12-year career fighting in small remote clubs, his pro debut took place at something called the Omega Products International, his next fight was at a DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario California, these two venues were the home to most of his early fights. Not exactly the Mecca Of Boxing. But it was at these tiny venues were Bradley piled up the wins and started building a reputation for himself, beating the likes of Fransisco Rincon of Dallas, Texas and veteran tough guys like Arturo Urena and Alfonso Sanchez and finally capturing a win over Miguel Vazquez in a battle of unbeaten prospects. Leading him to a world title shot. Bradley, who had never fought anywhere outside of his home state was considered more than a long shot to capture the WBC belt from Junior Witter. especially since he was going to be traveling to the Champs hometown of Nottingham. Bradley was undefeated and had scored a few quality victories but nothing at the level of a Junior Witter and not this far from his home, plus Bradley just looked so ordinary, no blazing speed or one-punch power, just a good little fighter that would be outmatched at the highest level.
Bradley traveled to the UK and looked absolutely ordinary in the first few rounds and it was going to be academic another uneventful defense for the champ. Something switched and the dogged determination that made Bradley famous kicked it and he landed a double left hook to the body and head, and later an overhand right that sent Witter crashing to the canvas. He bounced up immediately but was forced to clinch his way out of the round. Bradley from there on was sparked with confidence and outworked Witter badly doing enough to capture a well deserved split decision victory to become a world champion for the first time. As well as a $65,000 purse a life-changing sum of money as Bradley describes it. The purses were going to get bigger
Bradley, who just never seemed like anything other than ordinary continued to roll and his motivation and fire lead him to compile victories over, Kendall Holt, Lamont Peterson, and finally Devon Alexander in a 140-pound unification fight in which Bradley was again a sizeable underdog and just outworked the more “talented” Alexander to earn a 10th round TD which resulted in a headbutt where Alexander did all but beg the referee to stop the fight. That and one more tune-up set him up for a PPV showdown with Manny Pacquiao.
On Saturday, June 9th, 2012 a 28-year-old primed Tomthy Bradley walked into the MGM Grand Garden arena to take on Pound for Pound king Manny Pacquiao, a night that will live on in infamy. Bradley started the night moving well and outscoring Pacquiao taking the first two rounds, Pacquiao roared back landing lead left hands and keeping Bradley off balance and forcing him backwards it appeared that Pacquiao took most of the middle rounds (3-9) they weren’t one-sided, they were all pretty competitive but appeared to mainly be Pacquiao rounds. Seeing his chances slipping away Bradley picked up the action in round 10 having his best round of the fight. His work rate and sharp punching perhaps won him the final two stanzas as well and earning him a controversial split decision victory, a fight that we scored a draw (114-114). Bradley had dethroned the king of the sport but no one was really satisfied as Jim Lampley and the HBO cheerleaders announced the fight as if it were a one sided beat down in favor of Pacquiao, Ledderman somehow scored a very competitive fight 11-1 n favor of the house fighter, Manny Pacquiao. Bradley’s crowning achievement has been forever tainted and he was determined to avenge that.
The criticism Bradley received certainly had an impact on him as boxing and perhaps out boxing Manny Pacquiao won more critics than fans and beating Pac did little to elevate his status. Desert Storm decided to check the boxing skills and go all in on two separate occasions. First, in the initial defense of his WBO belt against Ruslan Provdokok, Bradley who easily outboxed the Russian challenger when he chose to, often opted not to and stood toe-to-toe with the knockout artist giving his trainer Joel Diaz anxiety but the fans a fight of the year non-stop action type of fight. Bradley seemingly had the fight won on the cards going into the final round and did not back off and the results were almost disastrous, Bradley was dropped and nearly stopped for good before just barely surviving to hear the final bell sound. Bradley had done enough to eek out an ultra-competitive UD. The Champ then defended against Juan Manuel Marquez before his awarded a rematch with Manny Pacquiao. In the rematch Bradley was fitting a nip and tuck type of fight with the legend, Bradley looked to be slightly outboxing the Filipino in a really competitive fight, Bradley saw this unfolding like the first fight and went all in again to try and stop Pacquiao. Abandoning his game plan and fighting into his hands of Pacquiao losing a close and competitive decision. Bradley was only disappointed with not getting the knockout saying “I tried, I really tried, I wanted that knockout. Manny is a great fighter, one of the best in the world” Bradley went on to pick up a few more high caliber wins, beating the likes of Jessie Vargas and Brandon Rios before losing a rubber match to the Pac-man before calling it a career with a record of 33-2-1 (13)
Still, in his prime, the miniature Evander Holyfield did what the “Real Deal” was sadly unable to do, that is walk away. The two-division former champ said “I had a helluva run. It was a good career I’m just not motivated to do this anymore. I’ve saved my money. I’m good.” He seems to be motivated by something far different now. Family has always been what seems to be the motivation that drove him, the story of him traveling to the UK to face Witter leaving his wife Monica and her children with $11 dollars in their bank account, literally fighting to feed his love ones, Bradley was in shock with the amount of money they offered him to fight Witter ($65,000) and when the Desert Storm was staggered by the champ he thought to himself “either my family is gonna or your family is gonna and my family is gonna eat” it’s that motivation and desperation that drove the seemingly ordinary Bradley to extraordinary heights and beating the man the man that was considered the best in the sport and one of the best ever.