A lot of boxing writers and commentators are currently trying to work out who will fill the PPV (pay-per-view) and pop culture void left by Floyd Mayweather following his retirement. It’s a valid question, as boxing has always had a figurehead (almost always American) during the modern TV era of the sport.
Many seem to think it may be the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez, or Sergey Kovalev. Only Terrence Crawford, another candidate, hails from the USA.
But it’s hard not to feel sorry for a legitimate top ten pound for pound fighter currently active who has been unfortunately over looked for the vast majority of his career.
Timothy Bradley has an inspiring against the odds story. He beat Junior Witter, the Bradford born southpaw, with allegedly less than $20 left in the bank, to win his first world title. He has taken on a ‘who’s who’ of the light-welter and welterweight division. He showed slick skills and athleticism against the likes of Lamont Peterson, and Devon Alexander. He was the beneficiary of a gift decision against Manny Pacquiao, but that wasn’t his fault, and the resulting fall out seemed to encourage him to show his mettle even more. He went toe to toe with Ruslan Provodnikov, a fighter who can be out boxed but few can out fight, winning a decision and suffering severe neurological problems in the aftermath. He then showed superb ring general ship to defeat the great Juan Manuel Marquez before losing his ‘0’ in a rematch against Pacquio.
Since then, he has performed well against Diego Chaves and at the time undefeated Jessie Vargas. Bradley has decided to take the admirable choice to fight Brandon Rios next up, Rios fighting in a style reminiscent of Provodnikov who gave Bradley such problems before.
Boxing has paid Bradley well as he is one of top ranks marquee names and he regularly features on PPV.
Yet he has never become the cross-over star his talent and style deserve. In our multimedia age, perhaps the man who goes by the moniker ‘desert storm’ is too honest, open and self-effacing. He is not prone to the bombast that brought the spotlight onto Mayweather.
My hope however, should he defeat Brandon Rios [on 7 November], would be for Bradley to take on either Kell Brook or Amir Khan. Particularly for Brook, the fight would raise both men’s profile in their opponents’ home country. Brook is vaunted for his defeat of Shawn Porter and a defeat of Bradley could catapult him into global stardom. Similarly, Bradley dethroning and outclassing another top name would only add to his legacy and perhaps remind those in the business that they still have a bona fide star in the spotlight who has shown no sign of hanging up his gloves.
I hope that Bradley, who has travelled for fights, taken on all comers as a champion, and continues to adopt a fan friendly style, becomes as widely known in the sporting world as his talent deserves.