Timothy Bradley is enjoying life after losing to Manny Pacquiao much more than he did after defeating Pacquiao.
Yes, you read that correctly.
See, Bradley’s highly controversial victory over Pacquiao in June 2012 inadvertently made the humble, likeable boxer public enemy No. 1, even prompting death threats from some maniacal Pacquiao supporters. Bradley won a split decision but virtually everyone thought Pacquiao won the fight. That vocal, overwhelming majority denied Bradley any of the joy generally associated with such a significant win.
It was nothing a good loss couldn’t cure.
Two years later, the former welterweight and junior welterweight champion appears completely at peace with his first official setback as a professional, a unanimous-decision defeat to Pacquiao in their 12-round rematch April 12 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Bradley believes he was beaten by “one of the best fighters of this generation,” a reality that has helped him forget about boxing for a while as he spends quality time with his wife, Monica, and their four children.
Just as important, even though Pacquiao beat him, he felt as though he won because “the black cloud” that hovered over him following his first fight against Pacquiao finally was lifted.
“Whatever doesn’t kill you, man, should make you stronger,” Bradley said. “I’ll be back.”
Bradley (31-1, 12 knockouts) expects to return to the ring either in late November or early December. He wouldn’t venture a guess regarding potential opponents.
The 30-year-old from Palm Springs, California, instead is focused on his healing right calf. He said he suffered two tears to it in the first round of the Pacquiao rematch, which he didn't use as an excuse afterward. He handled his lone loss with the class he has exuded throughout his 10-year pro career.
“I tore it in two different places,” Bradley said. “It sucks. It’s shortened now. It looks awkward. But at the same time, it happens. Sports injuries happen. I’ll come back from it.”
After suffering ligament damage in his left foot and a sprained right ankle during his first fight against Pacquiao, Bradley took a nine-month break between bouts. Then, still angry over criticism following his victory, he banged it out with a bigger puncher, Ruslan Provodnikov, whom Bradley should’ve tried to out-box.
Bradley won’t let emotion enter his mindset whenever he comes back from the Pacquiao rematch. The brawl with Provodnikov, which was THE RING's “Fight of the Year” for 2013, left him with a severe concussion that required batteries of tests.
Bob Arum, whose company, Top Rank Inc., promotes Bradley, has suggested Bradley as a potential opponent for newly crowned WBC middleweight champ Miguel Cotto.
“I’d like to see Cotto fight Timothy Bradley,” Arum said. “I’d like to see Cotto in with a good boxer.”
Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs), who demolished Sergio Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs) to win the title June 7 at Madison Square Garden in New York, stands 5-foot-7, just one inch taller than Bradley. They could, according to Arum, fight for Cotto’s middleweight championship if the fight is contested at any weight above the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds.
Bradley has not boxed above the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, though, and Freddie Roach, Cotto’s trainer, has said his fighter’s days as a welterweight are over. Provodnikov’s viability as an alternative to Cotto changed for the worse when he lost a split decision to underdog Chris Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) on June 14 at Barclays Center. A rematch against Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez remains a possibility, but Bradley won their first fight comfortably, even though one judge scored their 12-round fight for Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs).
“I don’t really have an opponent in mind,” Bradley said. “I’ll have to sit down and have a talk with Top Rank.”
Following an indisputable defeat to Pacquiao, Bradley will approach those negotiations and his next opponent in a much better frame of mind than when he “beat” Pacquiao.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record, of Woodland Park, N.J. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.