By Francisco Salazar
Aside from his unbeaten record and world titles that he has accumulated throughout his professional career, Timothy Bradley is an intelligent young man. Intelligent enough to know that the dangers of the sport of boxing can reward a fighter or put them in a hospital. Intelligent enough to outbox his opponents to remain unbeaten thus far since making his professional debut five years ago. Even intelligent enough to know when to not let a fighter get under his skin. Bradley has heard it all before, and is hearing a lot from former lightweight champion Nate Campbell, who he will be facing off against on Saturday night at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, CA. The bout will headline a Gary Shaw Productions and Thompson Boxing Promotions card, in association with Don King Productions. The bout will be televised on SHOWTIME.
Bradley (24-0, 11 KOs) is coming off a 12 round majority decision victory in his last fight against Kendall Holt in April. While Bradley won the close bout, he had to get up from two knockdowns in the fight. Not only was it a learning experience from adjusting to Holt’s style, it was also a learning experience for Bradley to not have Holt’s comments get under his skin before the fight.
While Campbell has given Bradley an earful of comments, the fighter who goes by “Desert Storm” will not go along that road like he did against Holt. Especially against someone as talented as Campbell.
“I made the mistake with Holt where he did get under my skin and I did get out of my game plan,” said Bradley, who is promoted by Gary Shaw and Thompson Boxing Promotions. “Nate can’t and won’t get under my skin. I already experienced that and that will not happen again.”
Bradley will face Campbell, who is moving up in weight after a successful campaign in the lightweight division. Although Campbell, at 140 pounds, is in the earliest part of his career, he has been successful at 130 and 135 pounds as well. Campbell became a world champion as a lightweight, defeating then unbeaten fighter Juan Diaz, a bout that Bradley watched from ringside in Cancun, Mexico. But Campbell lost his titles in his last bout against Ali Funeka for failing to make weight. Although he defeated Funeka, the belts became vacant. It’s because of Campbell’s success and the fact that few fighters want to fight Campbell that has made Bradley accept these challenges.
“I’m just ready to see what Nate brings to the table,” said Bradley, who lives 10 minutes away from the venue in which he is fighting in on Saturday. “I’m really anxious to see what he brings. I’ll admit that I have never been in the ring with someone like Nate. He is going to be at his best to try and defeat me.”
As the fight date has approached, both fighters have been more vocal towards one another. While Campbell is expected to talk about and to his opponent throughout his career, it is something Bradley rarely does until now.
“Nate says that he is going to dominate me. I just laugh because he doesn’t know who I am. I’m going to win the fight. Nate should be more worried about what I’m going to do to him as opposed to me worrying about what he is going to do.”
Bradley jumped into the international boxing scene when he won a world title by defeating Junior Witter last year. Few people gave Bradley a chance to win because few people outside of Southern California had seen him fight and because the bout was in Witter’s home country of England. Nonetheless, Bradley defeated Witter and has made two successful defenses of the title before vacating the title rather than fight Devon Alexander. Ironically, both Witter and Alexander are fighting on Saturday for the world title Bradley once held. While Bradley has worked hard in and out of the gym to get to where he is now, he feels that he is a better fighter now, mentally and physically.
“Well, I have more confidence in my ability. I believe in working harder, but being smart as well. I never feel satisfied with what I can do. That is what keeps me sharp. I spar four minutes a round, but I don’t feel it’s enough. I may run x amount of miles a day, but I feel it’s not enough. I’m mature enough to know that the physical aspect of training must be accompanied by the mental preparation. I’m a mature fighter now and I love learning more.”
Bradley puts everything together, not in the mountains of Southern California or a hidden area in another state. He trains at the Indio Boys & Girls Club, minutes from his house in the Coachella Valley. In the Coachella Valley, home to desert and agriculture, and year round golf at resorts in the area, Bradley has become popular and the area has thrown their support behind him. After the Witter fight, the city of Palm Springs gave Bradley the key to the city. Bradley is eager to speak at schools and programs, attempting to have kids stay in school and strive for better. Whereas Bradley built his career fighting an hour away in cities like Ontario and Corona, Bradley pushed for a fight near his hometown.
“I pushed really bad for this fight to be here. Before every fight, I would tell my promoters that I wanted a fight close to home. People would ask me when would there be a fight here in the Coachella Valley. I prayed to God and He answered my prayers.”
“It means a lot to me because as a kid, I would watch fights here in the Valley. I would watch Antonio (Diaz), Julio (Diaz), Shane (Mosley), and Steve (Quinones). Boxing kind of just faded away. I just really wanted to bring boxing back out here. It has been overwhelming, but to have support and to have friends and family there for the fight will motivate me a lot.”
As Bradley moves on with his career, he will continue to want to face the best fights and fighters out there.
“My team did not want this fight for me. They felt it was a dangerous fight, and it is. But I want that challenge and Nate is the best challenge for me right now.”
Bradley does not know for how long he will fight at 140 pounds. He has fought a few fights in the welterweight division and a move up in weight is a possibility in the next year or two. Until then, 140 pounds is his home. When asked if beating Campbell will make him the best 140 pound fighter in the world, Bradley responded matter-of-factly.
“No. I would be considered one of the best. My goal is to win all four belts at this weight class. If it’s possible. To me, the ring belt is the belt that shows that you are the best. Once I fight all of the best fighters and beat them, then I will be the best fighter at 140 pounds.”
As his fight approaches for Saturday, Bradley will no doubt have a wave of emotions as he enters the ring. He knows that Campbell will be at his best. He will make no excuses if he does not have his hand raised after the fight. Within five years of him turning pro, Bradley has grown to be a more complete fighter. And a more complete person as well, as his quiet demeanor has added more confidence. Bradley knows that executing a fight plan against Campbell will be his key. If he needs to make adjustments, then he will. Intelligence goes a long way and that is what Bradley hopes his reign as a world champion will be.