Former WBO and WBC junior welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley has signed with Top Rank Inc. and will debut with the company on the undercard of the Nov. 12 Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, his manager, Cameron Dunkin, and Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum both confirmed to RingTV.com on Thursday night.
“Yes, he’s with Top Rank. He just signed,” said Dunkin. “I’m just glad. We will see what happens from here.”
The story was originally reported by Bradley’s hometown paper, The Desert Sun.
“I’m just so happy…it’s very unbelievable,” said Bradley to The Desert Sun. “Everything was looking down, looking down, and boom. Now everything is starting to look up.”
Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs) will face former four-time titleholder and Cuban Olympic gold medalist Joel Casamayor (38-5-1, 22 KOs), who successfully rebounded from a loss to Robert Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs) by scoring a split-decision win over junior welterweight Manuel Lueva (18-3, 10 KOs) in March.
“I know people will say, ‘Why did you pick him?’ I didn’t pick him, it’s what Top Rank gave me. That’s who they gave me and I’m getting ready for him,” said Bradley
“He [Casamayor] hasn’t been very active, so it will make for a good fight since I haven’t been very active. Somebody’s gotta lose and it’s not going to be me.”
In January, Bradley dethroned Devon Alexander (22-1, 13 KOs) as WBC junior welterweight beltholder by 11th-round technical decision, adding that crown to the WBO title that he already owned.
In July, however, Bradley was stripped of the WBC belt by that organization based on inactivity, a move which opened the door for Erik Morales (52-7, 35 KOs) to become the first Mexican-born fighter to earn a fourth title in as many different divisions with a 10th-round knockout over previously-unbeaten Pablo Cesar Cano (22-1, 17 KOs).
“Top Rank has had all the greats. They’ve had all the greats. I’m here to be promoted. This is why I box, I want to be promoted. I’ve been winning my fights, but I haven’t been getting the top exposure I feel I deserve, being a three time world champion,” said Bradley to the Desert Sun.
“I’m relatively unknown and I think that’s terrible. You hear about it all the time: Bradley can’t do this, can’t sell that, he can’t do that. My main objective was to get a promoter to build the Bradley brand, and Top Rank is good at doing that. That’s why we chose Top Rank.”
During a Sept. 16 interview with RingTV.com, Arum had acknowledged that he had an interest in signing Bradley and also to place him on the Pacquiao-Marquez card.
“We weren’t going to release anything until tomorrow, but now that it’s out, I can confirm that that’s accurate. He’s going to be fighting on Nov. 12,” said Arum.
“I think that he’s a very attractive young man, and he’s a terrific fighter, and I think that we can make him a big superstar. We think that we can make him a pay per view attraction and also one of the major stars in boxing.”
Although Bradley was legally advised that he could sign with Top Rank, Arum said he could not discuss contract information, referring “any questions about contracts” to lawyers Dan Petrocelli or David Moroso.
A senior attorney with the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers law firm, Petrocelli gained a wrongful death civil conviction against O.J. Simpson in 1997.
“I’m not even worried about it. My lawyers are on it. This is my job, my livelihood and I’m contracted to fight,” said Bradley. “As far as the lawsuit goes, I’m not sure. All I know is my lawyers are on it, and they gave me the OK to fight.”
Arum realizes that speculation will begin soon as to whether Bradley could be a candidate to face eight-division titlewinner Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) should he get beyond Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs), whom Pacquiao has battled to a draw and a split-decision victory in 2004 and 2008, respectively.
“Manny Pacquiao is fighting Marquez, and, as far as who his next opponent is going to be, and who that is, we’ll address that question in November,” said Arum. “But we certainly haven’t committed to anybody, or Bradley or anybody else.”
Meanwhile, Bradley has always expressed a desire to face Pacquiao or perhaps Floyd Mayweather Jr. (42-0, 26 KOs), who is coming off of a fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) on Sept. 17.
“They haven’t mentioned anything about Manny Pacquiao or whatever. I’m fighting Casamayor at the moment,” said Bradley. “He’s a tough guy. He’s a tough veteran. I have to get past this guy and we’ll see what’s next. I would love to fight Manny Pacquiao, but I’m not sure when.”
As to whether he will be overshadowed by the main event, Bradley isn’t worried.
“Ain’t no problems at all. They’ll come to see Manny Pacquiao, but they’ll get a taste of Tim Bradley too. It doesn’t matter where I am on the card,” said Bradley.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be fighting in Vegas, especially at the MGM. All the greats fought there. Tons of great fighters fought there, and I’ll be another one to add to the list.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com