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Bradley to test welter waters

Big Joe Miranda

By Francisco Salazar

It is no secret that Junior Welterweight world champion Timothy Bradley wants to fight the best fighters out there. Although he is one of more humble young titleholders in boxing today, Bradley is very vocal in wanting to face the best at 140 pounds. After a significant bout fell through and finding no reasonable takers who was willing to step up and face the unbeaten world title holder, Bradley decided to go up in weight and face the best possible challenger out there. Literally. “I just want to fight the best out. That’s my goal.”

Bradley will face a height and size disadvantage on Saturday night as he takes on Luis Carlos Abregu in a 12 round Welterweight bout at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, CA.

The bout will follow the 12 round Super Welterweight eliminator between Alfredo Angulo and Joachim Alcine.

Both bouts will be televised on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.”

Originally, Bradley was scheduled to face Abregu (29-0, 23 KO’s) in June. However, a lucrative bout between him and 140-pound titleholder Marcos Maidana was made. However, that bout fell through when Maidana suffered a back injury in training back in early April.

Promoter Gary Shaw, who promotes Bradley and Abregu, made the fight again between the two unbeaten fighters. The bout was eventually moved a month later at the same venue, located in the Southern California desert.

Bradley (25-0 and 1 NC, 11 KO’s) has not fought since a 12 round unanimous decision victory over Lamont Peterson in December. Bradley scored a knockdown in the third round and dominated the action against the talented Peterson.

This will be the third bout in a row for Bradley fighting at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, about a 10-15 minute drive from Bradley’s hometown of Palm Springs. Although he enjoys the home-field advantage, Bradley is ready for Abregu and his hard-punching style.

“I feel phenomenal and sharp and I’m ready for this challenge,” said Bradley, who along with Shaw is co-promoted by Thompson Boxing Promotions. “I know I’m going to have a bigger, stronger man in front of me. It’s a big challenge for me. But, I know that I need to make a statement for this fight. I’m number one at 140 pounds and I want to show that I can fight and beat the best at 147 pounds.”

This will be Bradley’s first fight that will be televised on HBO after having fought eight times on Showtime.

As fight fans in the United States and around the world saw Bradley’s talent and potential skyrocket, fights were hard to come by. Bradley has had bouts fall through or fighters verbally committing, but eventually backing out.

Although he has admitted to being frustrated, Bradley understands the business and instead moves on as opposed to wait.

“I was very frustrated after the Peterson fight,” said Bradley, who also coaches youth football in his hometown to get children and teenagers to exercise and work hard. “I would hear of a big name fighter calling me out or a big fight being proposed. Then things fell through. I want to fight. So, I decided to move up to 147 pounds for this fight. My stock would go up if I beat the number contender (Abregu) for a belt at 147 pounds. After this fight, I just want to face the top fighters at 140 pounds and even fight Floyd (Mayweather) or Manny (Pacquiao).”

“I’m getting my feet wet before jumping into the pool. I’m looking at making a statement in this fight.”

Bradley has already proved that he is a big fish in a large pool at 140 pounds. With numerous champions and contenders out there, Bradley still hopes to land a fight at 140 pounds after the Abregu fight.

Shaw has even mentioned having a 140-pound tournament, similar to the World Boxing Classic, where some of the top Super Middleweights in the world are competing. Although HBO has balked at the idea of a tournament, Bradley is one who is all for it.

“I like the idea. What I would like is for putting the names of fighters in a hat and drawing names. This fighter would fight this fighter and then in another bout, have this fighter face this fighter. The winners of these fights would fight each other. That’s how I would like to see a tournament happen.”

Asked who he would like to draw first, Bradley quickly replied, “Amir (Khan) or Marcos (Maidana). We can do it. I like to have options and leave the doors open. I have no problem facing one of those two.”

After Bradley won his world title over two years after going to England and defeating Junior Witter in his hometown. After respective trips to Mississippi (a unanimous decision over Edner Cherry) and Montreal (a unanimous decision victory over Kendall Holt, despite two knockdowns), Bradley has enjoyed fighting in front of his hometown fans of the Coachella Valley.

Although fighters may face added pressures of fighting in front of family and friends who bombarded the fighter with ticket requests, Bradley maintains a humble attitude. He understands the dangers in and out of the ring of fighting in his hometown, but feels that he is always up to the challenge.

“I know that a loss is bound to happen. However, I have the mentality that I cannot lose at home. I always get up for a fight and I know I can’t let my fans down. I got to win and I have to win. I’m a risk taker and I have the mentality of all or nothing. Some of the best fighters have that train of thought as well.”

Speaking of his fans, he has sure added a legion of fans near and around his hometown. He has also won fans and people who respect his ability and talents. In fights where he is predicted to lose or fights where he has gotten knocked down, Bradley always musters up enough to get the “w.”

After making his professional debut almost six years ago, Bradley is slowly emerging as one of the best fighters pound for pound in the world. Although he has a strong connection with God and his bless at his athleticism, Bradley is humbled by the fruit of his labor.

Although some fighters do not take the time to acknowledge what has happened in their career, Bradley is one who is appreciative and grateful for where he is at in his career.

“I never imaged this. God does wonderful things. I would at times sit back and wondered when I would get a break or when is something good going to happen. On top of busting my butt during my career in training camps, I thank God a lot. Through the hard work and dedication I do, I feel that God rewards me with victories throughout my career.”

“I take pride in what I do. When I’m in the ring, I’m surprised in what I’m capable of doing. I know I can always be touched and you don’t consider yourself perfect. You just have to stay grounded and be level-headed.”

Yes, Timothy Bradley has come a long way since his days of fighting at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario or the Omega Products International in Corona. He is thankful to Ken Thompson and Alex Camponovo of Thompson Boxing in first signing him to a contract. On top of having his father, Timothy Sr., in his corner, Bradley has added Joel Diaz, who has become one of the top trainers around.

Bradley considers himself to blessed with abilities, but confident to know that he belongs amongst the best at 140 and now, at 147 pounds. Saturday night will be Bradley’s audition for 147 pounds and hopefully more lucrative fights down the road.

“I just want to face the best fighters out there. Devon (Alexander), Marcos, Victor (Ortiz), Amir, Floyd, Manny. I know that Saturday night will answer a lot of questions.”

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