IS TIM BRADLEY CRAZY?
Question: Do you think Tim Bradley is crazy? I do. I can fully appreciate his desire to prove his critics wrong by legitimately defeating Manny Pacquiao, but how on earth did he agree to a contract extension with Top Rank? He's getting only $1million more than the last time they fought, and when he's done he's got ZERO options. Rematches with Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez? They're not the worst fights out there, but close.
If I'm Tim Bradley, I say yes I will fight Manny, but no I will not sign an extension. He's leaving a career's worth of quality Golden Boy opponents on the table AND a fight with Floyd Mayweather. I believe that Tim will grow stale in his career with Top Rank and by the time he does make a move, he's not going to be mentally prepared for the rise in competition and variation in competitive styles he'll see at Golden Boy.
What do you think of this move? Was Tim crazy to re-sign with Top Rank? – Vincent, New York, NY
I’ve followed Bradley’s career for close to 10 years and although one could call him “possessed” when he’s in the middle of a training camp or the in the heat of battle, “crazy” is not a word I’d use to describe him.
As much as I’d love to see how Bradley would fare against Golden Boy’s monster stable of welterweights – especially Marcos Maidana, Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman – I can’t criticize his decision to sign an extension with Top Rank. Firstly, I think the rematch with Pacquiao is the biggest (winnable) fight out there for Bradley. If he legitimately beats Pacquiao in the April 12 rematch he could surpass fellow American pound-for-pound player Andre Ward as the Heir Apparent to Floyd Mayweather’s P4P throne.
Second, by staying with Top Rank, he’ll remain a big fish in HBO’s pond. The subscription cable giant doesn’t have as many stars or potential stars to push since splitting with Golden Boy Promotions last year. There are only a few boxers that HBO views as “the future” and is backing hardcore – Ward, Gennady Golovkin, whoever wins the eventual Adonis Stevenson-Sergey Kovalev showdown, and maybe Mikey Garcia – and Bradley is near the top of their short list. The network is going to get behind him during the lead up to the Pacquiao rematch and even more so if he beats the Filipino legend (which is very possible).
Third, we don’t know the terms of his new deal with Top Rank. Bob Arum isn’t giving out details and neither is Timmy. Here’s what Bradley told RingTV.com’s Lem Satterfield about the contract extension:
“As far as the extension goes… Top Rank definitely has taken care of me, and I'm happy with all of the terms…
“They gave me everything I asked for. I'm not going to get this kind of a deal anywhere else. I'm satisfied and ready to move forward with my career and to fight Manny Pacquiao again.”
So, read into that whatever you will. Yeah, he’s “only” making $1 million more than he made in the first Pacquiao bout for the rematch, but we don’t know what his minimum purses will be going forward – win, lose or draw vs. Pacquiao. Maybe HBO and Top Rank have guaranteed him 1 million and change vs. whoever he fights, be it Jessie Vargas, Frankie Gavin or Bethuel Ushona (the WBO’s unknown No. 2 contender), and considerably more for the name fighter’s in their stable: Marquez, Provodnikov and Brandon Rios.
Personally, I don’t care to see a Marquez rematch because I thought Bradley won their first fight handily, and I’d only have a moderate interest in a Rios showdown because styles make fights, but I think Bradley-Provodnikov II would be very well received in the boxing world. I know I’d want to see it.
I definitely think Bradley can improve on his first performance against Provo, but I also believe that “the Siberian Rocky” will always give him a tough fight.
I was quite impressed by Antonio Orozco’s performance on Friday, although I am not sure how much to take from such a short fight. He definitely took a hard shot, but he gave it back in spades!
Orozco's style and “compactness” sort of reminds me of Miguel Cotto back in the day. While we did not exactly see it Friday, I remember his relentless body attack from his fight at the StubHub Center last year.
What are your thoughts on where Antonio goes from here? Is he ready for a step up to the next tier and, if you think so, who do you see in the cards for him?
I know they said on Fox that he wants to fight four times this year. He seems like a really nice, polite kid. My wife, who is a school teacher, had the pleasure of teaching his young cousin in the South Bay (National City, not Long Beach). She dubbed the little guy “El Campeon,” which always brought a smile to his face when she was encouraging him in his schoolwork. I hope some day that Antonio can put on a championship belt. Thanks. – Andy
It’s very possible that he will, Andy. Orozco’s manager, Frank Espinoza, knows how to develop talent and he knows the boxing biz. He’ll maneuver the San Diego resident (who spent his childhood in the same area of Kansas that spawned Brandon Rios and Victor Ortiz) to a major fight and then it will be up to Orozco to deliver.
He’s got the character and the physical tools to one day be a force at 140 pounds – good call by the way on his stylistic resemblance to Miguel Cotto; I agree with you (and I even think Orozco kind of looks like the Puerto Rican veteran when his hair is cut short). He just needs some more seasoning and technical improvements before taking a step up in his opposition. I don’t think he’ll be ready to challenge any major beltholders in 2014, but he may be by the second half of 2015.
Orozco’s fellow young Southern Cali prospects have told me that he’s a much more savvy and fluid boxer when he’s sparring than he is in an actual prize fight. That tells me that’s he’s still getting used to performing in main events and co-featured bouts under the bright lights of TV. When he gets used to performing under pressure (fan and media expectations) and on TV, then we’ll see how good he truly is.
Right now I think he’s a solid prospect. He’s not ready for a top-10 contender. I’d like to see him in against a fellow prospect, such as rugged Adrian Granados or hard-punching Jose Zepeda, or a difficult spoiler like Mookie Pendarvis before he steps up to a legit fringe contender or top-15 junior welterweight like Mauricio Herrera (after the Southern Cali-scrapper’s proposed challenge to champ Danny Garcia, obviously) or Humberto Soto.
Having seen the Marco Huck vs. Firat Arslan fight yesterday a question crossed my mind: Before knocking Arslan down for the second time Huck was pushing away the high guard of Arslan in a way I would judge “against the rules.” But nobody is even discussing the fact. In every other sport people would engage in a controversial discussion – not so in boxing. Do we have a different concept of fair play in our sport? – Matthias from Germany
Yes, we do, which is no concept at all.
Unless the rules are blatantly broken by an unpopular or “un-connected” fighter you can expect the referees and other officials of professional boxing to let the infraction slide – at least a few times – during a high-profile match.
When Mike Tyson was on top of the boxing world he was allowed to butt, elbow and hit his opponents on the break as often as he felt he needed to in order to gain advantage. It was not uncommon for the late 1980s/early ‘90s version of Iron Mike to smash his opponents across the chops while they were down. (Watch the first round of Tyson’s first fight against Frank Bruno. Tyson clearly clocks the Bruno with a sweeping right hand while the big Brit was down on all fours at the start of the round, but referee Richard Steele doesn’t say a thing – and neither did the U.S. commentators – but the Steele had no problem warning Bruno for pushing and rabbit punching later in the round.)
A year later, Bruno’s fellow British bomber Nigel Benn smashed Iran Barkley while the Bronx veteran was tied up and half turned around in the ropes and again a hard right downside his head while “the Blade” was on his hands and knees during their wild, one-round shootout. Benn was not penalized by referee Carlos Padilla for his blatant – some would say malicious – fouls (but at least U.S. commentator Alex Wallau was outraged by the late hits and took him to task during what is still my favorite post-fight interview of all time).
When Felix Trinidad was an undefeated attraction he was allowed to stick his elbow in the neck of any opponent, just as Mayweather is today. Warnings were seldom given and no post-fight discussions on Tito’s roughhouse tactics was ever broached after his big fights. (The only time Trinidad was docked a point by a ref was when he blatantly blasted Fernando Vargas in the nuts in the fourth round of their modern classic. That wasn’t the first time Tito had pulled that stunt but it was the first time he did it against fellow “name” fighter. Vargas was also docked a point for low blows later in the bout.)
The recent Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana fight featured rough stuff from both fighters throughout the 12 rounder. Maidana was docked a point for a headbutt, but Broner was allowed to push and elbow Maidana all night and he got away with a blatant late hit after the 11th.
If the rules of boxing were strictly enforced, both Broner and Maidana would have both been docked at least two points during their fight. Carl Froch would have been DQ’d due his cornermen storming the ring before his beatdown of Lucian Bute was officially waved off – just as Carlos Molina was DQ’d against James Kirkland. I can go on and on but the bottom line is that bigtime fighters can bend the rules without getting called on it. (Bernard Hopkins, who I considered great, had done it his entire career.)
Huck didn’t blatantly pull Arslan’s gloves away from his face and then belt the 43-year-old vet out. He was looping his punches around the southpaw’s high guard the entire fight. Huck had no choice. Arslan was coming at him like a ‘roided up turtle. Some of those looping shots got around the guard and landed; others merely caught the challenger’s gloves or wrist. When this happened, you better believe that Huck was going to try and yank those gloves away from Arslan’s face.
And this being professional boxing, you better believe that the referee was going to allow the defending beltholder to do it.
THE CRUISERS, UNDISPTUED WLADDY, FROCH-GROVES II
Hi Dougie, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Marco Huck-Firat Arslan fight on Saturday night and it wasn't just because Mickey Vann, cult hero among all Ricky Hatton fans, was judging the undercard! It may not have lasted too long but Arslan made a real go of it before his demise and it reminded me that the unfashionable 200-lb division does have the potential to produce some good stuff. Haye-Mormeck from 2008 and the Lebedev-Jones from last May are among my favourite fights from recent years and I'm really looking forward to second edition of the latter in April. The introduction of Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew to the division should give it some extra depth and I hope that we are set for some intriguing matchups in the next couple of years. The cruiserweight division may not be blessed with real quality but if it can throw up bouts between reasonably well matched fighters going toe-to-toe then I'll be more than happy to tune in and I hope the rest of the boxing brotherhood joins me. On to the heavies and I've decided that I really want Baby Bro to pick up the WBC title that Vitali has now vacated. You alluded to his rise from a potentially broken career after the Lamon Brewster fight in your last mailbag and I would love to see his tale completed by being crowned the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world (surely the greatest accolade in sport). He may not be great to watch at times but he is the best by a distance and it should always be remembered that being the best heavyweight doesn't just make you the best in your weight class, it makes you the hardest man in the world! Any man who achieves that has more than earned my respect. Finally I wanted to ask you about the rematch that the IBF have ordered between George Groves my man Carl Froch. Something tells me that negotiations may not be so smooth and I wanted to know who the onus is on to get things done. Obviously if Froch was to offer Groves £50 to fight in the car park of the Dog & Duck then Groves would have every right to refuse and the IBF would strip Froch of his title. What happens though if it is Groves makes unreasonable demands? It was reported on Friday in the British press that Groves has already turned down a £1 million+ offer which doesn't sound too shabby to me for a man with no real notoriety outside of the UK. Does Froch keep having to making him better offers until he accepts or will the IBF look to intervene and call off the rematch if they believe that Groves is taking the piss with regard to the remuneration he's expecting? Basically Dougie, the politics of sanctioning bodies confuses the s__t outta me so here's to hoping it doesn't become an issue and I can write back to you after attending what should be a cracking rematch. I'm still maintaining that the TKO decision first time around was not as bad as it appeared but I've learned to agree to disagree with you and the rest of the boxing world on that one! All the best. – Sir Laurence of Nottingham
I don’t think we disagree on Froch-Groves I, Sir Laurence. I thought the stoppage in Froch-Groves I was premature but that doesn’t mean I beliecve that Groves was “robbed” of a certain victory or wasn’t in trouble at the time that the referee waved it off. I believe Froch had turned the tide and was on his way to dishing out some serious punishment to the young challenger. Would Froch have stopped Groves legitimately? I think so, but I don’t know so. Could Groves had rallied and regained control of the bout. I think that was certainly possible, but I don’t know for sure. The end of the first bout was inconclusive and controversial, Groves had a right to file a protest with the IBF and the American sanctioning organization agreed with his complaints, so they ordered a mandatory rematch this past Friday.
What that means is that the promoters of both fighters have 90 days to make the return bout (it has to happen by April 24 and neither fighter can take an interim fight). If they can’t come to terms by Feb. 8, the fight will go to a purse bid, in which any licensed promoter could put up the money to stage the fight.
However, I don’t think that will happen. Froch will either vacate the IBF title (he still holds the WBA’s “regular” belt) and pursue a lucrative showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (provided Junior gets by Bryan Vera on March 1, which ain’t a given), or he and his promoter Eddie Hearn will do business with Groves and company.
Their first bout was a huge event in Manchester and I think the rematch will be even bigger (no matter what part of England it takes place) because of the controversy and sincere animosity between the fighters. I think the money is there for Froch-Groves II to happen.
It might not happen this year but I think you’ll get your wish and witness Wladimir Klitschko finally win the WBC title and completely unify all of the major heavyweight belts (for the first time in more than 20 years). But first Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola have to fight again for the vacant WBC title and then the winner of that bout, which could happen in April, might have to face the top contender in the Mexico-based sanctioning organization – either Deontay Wilder or the winner of a Wilder-Bryant Jennings matchup or whoever emerges from Wilder vs. the winner of a Jennings-Mike Perez showdown. However, it works out, I think the fights to determine Klitschko’s eventual challenger will be a lot better than Klitschko’s fight with the WBC beltholder.
There’s no doubt that the cruiserweight division has tremendous potential for all-action bouts. There are so many hardnosed sluggers and hard-punching boxers fighting at 200 pounds (Hernandez, Huck, Lebedev, Wlodarczyk, Grigory Drozd, Junior Makabu, Ola Afolabi, Rakim Chakhkeiv) I can’t name them all. And I’ll add these cruiserweight classics to the ones you mentioned: O’Neil Bell vs. Mormeck, James Toney vs. Vassiliy Jirov, Carl Thompson vs. Chris Eubank I and what may have been the last great 15-round championship bout (way back in 1986) Dwight Muhammad Qawi vs. Evander Holyfield I.
Email Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer