Photo: Big Joe Miranda
In the lead up to tonight’s pay-per-view showdown with four-division champion and Mexican icon Juan Manuel Marquez, unbeaten WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs), trainer Joel Diaz and Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum participated in a teleconference to discuss the fight with reporters. Topics discussed included the residual effects of Bradley’s previous life-and-death fight with Ruslan Providnikov, why Bradley chose to fight Marquez rather than a more lucrative fight with Manny Pacquiao, concerns over the judges, sparring with Lucas Matthysse, random drug testing and much more.
BOB ARUM: Timothy just finished working out at his beautiful new gym in the desert and I must say he is in incredible shape and he told me if I wanted to move the fight up 12 days he would be ready to go tomorrow night and I really believe that. He is at the top of his game and as everyone that was here today could see, he is ready to give one incredible performance.
Joel, how as camp been going? We know Timothy is coming off an incredible fight against Provodnikov which, right now, is the leading candidate for Fight of the Year.. How is it coming off that to prepare for this fight?
JOEL DIAZ: Our training camp has been going really well. As you can see, this guy works extremely hard. He leaves nothing behind, pushing himself 100% in training. We worked hard on the weight, making sure it was not an issue like in the previous fight, which was a factor in that fight. But no more. Right now he is walking around at 152 at the most and wants to finish the week at 149. He is mentally and physically ready to go and looking forward to October 12th.
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: I want to be a part of Marquez’s legacy and by me beating Marquez, that right there will make me one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, wherever you want to place me. Marquez is probably the best fighter I will have ever faced in my career, by far. This fight on October 12th is going to be a very tough fight and I am game for war. I know Marquez is, too, I know his trainer very well and I know they are going to come out hard and try to take me out and take my title.
Joel, what does Tim need to do to counter Marquez?
JOEL DIAZ: The most important thing for Tim to do is stay very focused, follow the strategy and don’t fall into Marquez’s game. Marquez is a very experienced fighter. Don’t fall away from the plan and follow instructions and he’ll be fine.
Have you looked at the Chris John and Mayweather fights in which Marquez lost by decision and can you take anything away from those?
JOEL DIAZ: I watched the Mayweather fight and Mayweather showed me a lot going in the ring against a fighter like Juan Manuel Maarquez. Even though that fight was years ago, over time, fighters slow down a little due to age. But I focused on that fight and caught a lot of good points. I know that Marquez is still sharp and very smart. I know Marquez myself because I followed Marquez’s career. I am a big fan of Marquez and I have seen every single one of his fights. I don’t have to look at much video because I remember every single one of his fights – how he performs and what his strengths and weaknesses are. I know the type of counter-puncher he is so I really don’t have to look at much video. I already know him.
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: I have seen every one of his fights. I know what his weaknesses are and what he likes to do. That is our job — to know these things. That’s why we wanted this fight. I wanted this fight a few years ago. I always knew I could beat Marquez, even when he went back and fought Juan Diaz I felt that I could have been in there and done a lot better. But this fight is happening now and I am going to prove to the world that I am a top fighter, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the game. I am going to beat Marquez, you heard it here first, and we’ll see what the people say after that.
Are you willing to box or do you feel a need to go toe-to-toe?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: I am here to put on a show but I am also going to follow the game plan that we put together to win the fight.
Is there a concern for the judges?
JOEL DIAZ: There is always a concern. This is boxing and at the end of the day what’s going to happen is what’s going to happen. Tim is a very elusive fighter and has great speed and great footwork and if it’s up to the judges we hope they do their job and Tim is going to prove he is one of the best fighters in the world when he beats Marquez.
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: Man, I am going to whoop his ass and the judges are going to give me the fight. Just like the U.S. government I am going to shut down Juan Manuel Marquez on October 12th. I am going to win the fight – that is the bottom line. I’m not concerned about any judges or any ref. I am going to get in there and do my job and beat Marquez. And that’s it. And the world’s going to see it.
BOB ARUM: I just hope that we are not going to have any kind of controversy with the judges. The fighters fight and the judges pick the winner of the fight and that’s all I can ask for.
You spoke about residual effects from the Provodnikov fight on 24/7. How long did it take once you got back in the gym to feel like yourself again?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: I have always had positive vibes and positive energy. I knew and I told Joel Diaz that I would bounce back from it. It took me two months just to get back to normal. Going in the gym, I was out of shape, sparring, things were a little off but that was because I was out of shape. I told them ‘ once I get back into shape, don’t worry guys, everything will get better. My IQ, my speed, my defense will all come back.’ Three or four weeks ago, my trainers told me I was right. My sparring sessions got better, my defense got back, my speed was better and everything was falling into place and everything was back. I was actually doing the plan in the sparring session that Joel wanted to see and my team wanted to see and we are backing up the truck now. I am 110% going into this fight. I am not worried about getting punched or can I take a punch – I know I can take a punch and I know I’m ready to go.
Were you concerned about a lingering effect?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: No, I never felt that way because you know what happens? A lot of fighters don’t know that there is a lot of help out there for these concussions. NFL players have that help. My friends in the NFL got me the right treatment and I saw doctors out of New York, Long Beach, that could aid and assist me with therapy work. Everything is back to normal now. I feel 100% and I never worried.
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: Most people that have lingering effects and get multiple concussions never get help – they don’t get treatment. I’ve been getting treatment for the last five months.
Joel, tell us what it was like when he came back into camp.
JOEL DIAZ: I noticed a little bit at the beginning because his equilibrium wasn’t there. With time he was getting better. He was focusing on losing weight. He had gained quite a bit of weight. So he was losing weight too fast. He had gained a lot of weight because he was inactive. As soon as he started getting back in shape everything started to fall in place. His balance and equilibrium started to come back. As a trainer I always take that into consideration – how is he going to come back because he did get hit pretty hard? Week after week he started getting better and he was reacting really good. And he told me that once he got back into shape he was going to be reacting really good. He’s been sparring with some tough sparring partners. He’s been getting hit real hard and been reacting really good. All reactions I have seen from him are normal and his reflexes are very sharp.
Bob, were you surprised these two [Bradley and Marquez] turned down a Pacquiao fight to fight each other? For less?
BOB ARUM: Money isn’t everything. These guys aren’t fighting on October 12 for peanuts. The purses they are getting are substantial and legacy is important for both Timothy and Juan Manuel Marquez. Timothy wants Marquez’s scalp on his belt, so to speak. And Marquez wants to be the first Mexican to win five world titles in five weight divisions. Both of them indicated to me that Pacquiao could wait.
Tim, why take this fight instead of more lucrative fight with Pacquiao?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: One, going to China was a reason and, two, the money was not out-of-this-world. Marquez is 40 and on his way out and I wanted to get a shot at him. I tried three years ago to get a crack at him – to beat him – and I wanted to fight him before he left the game. This is my opportunity to do that. Coming off the Provodnikov fight, it was a hard fight, it was a great fight and it did do some adjusting to where I fit in boxing. I figured, let’s keep going towards the light and let’s face a new challenge in Marquez before he gets out, and beat him. Then maybe we can go back and revisit the dark side in Manny Pacquaio. I felt I wasn’t ready to do it again. After the Provodnikov fight I was in darkness, then I came to the light and I want to stay in the light. I want to shine and I can do that by having two guys on my resume who are by far the best fighters in the world, hall-of-famers, and if I could beat both of these guys I would be considered one of the best.
What is it about Marquez that sets him apart form the other great fighters you have faced?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: Marquez has fought everybody. He has been in the ring with all the best fighters in the world. He never ducked anybody. He’s been in there with Mayweather. He fought Pacquiao four times. And there is nothing he has not seen. He is one of the best counter-punchers in the game. People struggle when they fight this guy. He either knocks them out or he wins a decision because he is a great counter-puncher. He’s that best name on my resume. I fought a lot of fighters, young and old, but they are not the caliber of Marquez.
How did you become a fan of Marquez?
JOEL DIAZ: Following his career, he has been a very exciting fighter. In boxing you like to see great fights and he has been part of the great fights. Me as a Mexican fighter we always look at the best fighters that Mexico can produce – Julio Cesar Chavez, Jose Luis Castillo, Erik Morales – and now we have Marquez, and I’m facing him. I have to give my fighter a strategy to beat him. And it’s an honor to create a strategy for someone that I have followed. I have a fighter that is hungry to gain that throne. It’s my job to prepare my fighter to beat him. To go in the ring with my fighter and to come out with a win I can go home and say I idolized him and now one of my fighters beat him.
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: I have always been a fan of Marquez. I always thought he was a great fighter and I still think he’s a great fighter. I want to fight the best to be the best in this sport. I don’t do this just to make money, of course the money is important for my family, but I do this to be the best. That’s what motivates me and drives me. People that tell me I can’t do it, I want to prove them wrong. I am one of the best fighters in the world and if I’m not No. 1 on your list, I will be. Floyd’s got a few more fights left so when I beat Marquez I will be right in there.
Are you surprised, as being the champion, that Marquez is favored to win the fight?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: No, no , no. Everybody is looking at my last fight and everybody is looking at his last fight. Everyone remembers when he knocked out Pacquiao. And everyone remembers that war with Ruslan Provodnikov. A lot of people think I am going to be wild and go down and people have to see if I still have it or not. Of course they are going for the veteran, the guy that knocked out Pacquiao so of course they are going to bet on him to win. I don’t mind being the underdog. I like it. I like taking people’s money and I’ll take it again. People can doubt me and doubt me and that’s OK but soon they will get sick of losing their money.
Are you looking forward to the challenge of facing Nacho Beristain in the other corner?
JOEL DIAZ: Definitely, I think that Nacho is one of the best trainers in the world. He has done so much for the sport, you could call him a legend. I am coming in with a great fighter in Timothy Bradley and he is coming in with a great fighter in Juan Manuel Marquez. We are matching wits and when Tim wins I will be very happy to have accomplished a wing against a great trainer.
Juan Manuel Marquez busted up the bags at media day, are you worried about his power?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: I don’t give a damn what he did. I don’t give a damn if he busted a bag. I don’t give a damn if he trained on the moon. I don’t give a damn if he broke somebody’s jaw. That’s all irrelevant to me, man. He doesn’t know what we are doing over here. That doesn’t scare me at all.
You say Marquez will be the best fighter you ever faced. Would he still have been the best if he didn’t KO Pacquiao?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: I just think that’s he’s a very intelligent fighter. It’s good to have that knockout on his resume plus the other fights with Pacquiao, and the Mayweather fight and I think he fought Morales. He fought everybody – all the best out there. So that would not have changed.
How was sparring with Matthysse?
Sparring with him really helped my confidence (coming back from Provodnikov) – we have worked together – it wasn’t electrifying in the ring. He had his moments and I had my moments. The biggest thing was it my first day back and his first day sparring after coming to the states. We did four rounds and he was a little winded so maybe he was jetlagged. I thought it was a great sparring session. I got to see his strengths and his weaknesses. He landed some good shots on me and I took his best shot. He hit me with a big left hook and I went halfway across the ring and I stopped and said ‘boy you’re strong.’
How confident are you in the testing?
TIMOTHY BRADLEY: Well, it is what it is. There is nothing I can do about that. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. If I don’t take this fight I don’t get paid and make money for my family. HBO, Top Rank and everybody would be pissed off if I pulled out of this fight. He’s doing the testing that Nevada is doing and that’s great. VADA is a qualified agency – they are more strict and their percentages are better also. I am a clean athlete so why not do the best testing out there. I said let’s do VADA and he didn’t want to do it. We’ve been getting randomly tested the last for weeks. They just show up – they call an hour early. He’s passed all the tests so all we can say is that he’s clean.
JOEL DIAZ: On October 12 you are going to see Bradley put on a great performance. He is going to put a beating on Marquez. I don’t think you are going to need judges. I think Marquez is going to come and put Tim to sleep like he did to Pacquiao and it’s not going to happen. Tim is a smarter fighter, more defensive and he’s going to complicate Marquez’s day. After the fifth or sixth round – Tim is going to take Marquez into the deep water and that’s when Tim is going to do his best – you don’t have to leave it up to the judges.