Timothy Bradley Signs with Top Rank: Manny Pacquiao and 5 Other Potential Fights
Earlier today, WBO champion and The Ring's No. 2 junior welterweight Timothy Bradley held a press conference to announce that he was officially signing with Top Rank Boxing.
I'm not Bob Arum's biggest fan, but realistically speaking, in the dysfunctional world of professional boxing, Timothy Bradley signing with Top Rank has to be viewed as a good thing.
We have already missed out on a classic showdown at 140 pounds between Bradley and Amir Khan, due to the fact that Bradley was unhappy with his promotional team.
At 28 years of age, Bradley is unquestionably one of the sport's 20 biggest stars—The Ring ranks him a very lofty No. 6 on its pound-for-pound list.
In today's sports-media world, it takes a team like Top Rank to get him the types of fights he deserves.
Bradley is an explosive athlete with legitimate skills. He has a bullying, whirlwind style. Bradley, 27-0, has only 11 knockouts, so I'm not ready to call him the second coming of Aaron Pryor. But, he might be the closest we're going to get in real time on a Saturday night.
Bradley is scheduled to fight Joel Casamayor, 38(22)-5-1, on November 12th on the under card of Pacquiao-Marquez. It would be a shock to almost everybody who follows boxing if Bradley did anything other than win convincingly.
Beyond that bout, a slew of potential superfights awaits.
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There's no way I am willing to pencil Manny Pacquiao in for an automatic "W" over Juan Manuel Marquez next November. At times during their 24 rounds together, Marquez has run veritable boxing clinics on the otherwise seemingly unstoppable Pacman.
But, I do favor Pacquiao to win in the end. And let's just say that things go according to plan.
Beyond that fight, I won't believe that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are going to fight until I see both of them walk down the aisle, enter the ring and stand still long enough for Mr. Buffer to commence the opening remarks.
Win or lose, if Pacquiao wants to keep fighting after Marquez, he is going to need a pretty big name to keep people buying, should he continue to somehow avoid meeting up with Money May.
Now that Bradley is signed with Top Rank, the whole thing could be handled in-house.
If Pacquiao does indeed beat Marquez, I am going to be pretty disgusted if he and Mayweather don't fight sometime next spring or early summer.
But, if Pacman was scheduled to fight Timothy Bradley instead, I have to admit I would watch it.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
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If Top Rank somehow fails to make the fight happen between Manny and Mayweather, is it possible that Mayweather would take Bradley instead?
I tend to think that he would. In the same way that a lion takes a piece of meat.
But, let's be honest. Bradley's new promoters are much too intelligent to ever let this matchup happen.
Bradley would have to win a string of fights, and show a whole lot more than he has shown so far in his victories over such contenders as Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander and Junior Witter, before they would risk giving an elite talent like Mayweather the opportunity to try to expose him.
It seems unlikely to me that Top Rank would view a younger fighter like Bradley as somebody to feed in-house to Pacquiao or send into battle overmatched against Mayweather.
They have to be looking at developing him, both in promotional terms and as in-ring talent.
I have to think they're looking for Bradley to make them money in the post-Pacquiao world. In that case, it makes the most sense to have him first clean out junior welterweight.
For my money, the 140 division is one of the most exciting in the sport, even without factoring in Timothy Bradley.
In a perfect world, this fight already happened. In a perfect world, it happens now.
Bradley and Khan are No. 1 and No. 2 at 140 pounds—everybody agrees about that, even if they argue about the order.
So, let's have them fight already. Now that they are both with Top Rank, it would seem like a no-brainer.
Ah, but something tells me they won't fight. At least, not yet. Very likely not at junior welterweight, either.
Khan's stock went up big time when he dismantled Zab Judah. The 5'10" 24-year-old Brit might be ready to step up to a more comfortable weight, and he might not feel like he needs a fight with Timothy Bradley at this point in time.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope they fight next spring.
For now, Marcos Maidana exists somewhere just off the radar of the casual boxing fans.
But, I can see that starting to change. In a fair world (in which we clearly don't live), it would change soon.
The 31(28)-2 Argentinian banger is perhaps most well known for making Victor Ortiz quit in the ring after the sixth round of their 2009 matchup. And one thing I suspect about Maidana is that if it had been him who decided to illegally headbutt Pretty Boy Floyd, he sure wouldn't have tried to hug him right afterwards.
Against Amir Khan, he forced the taller and more technically polished Brit to brawl with him, losing a competitive and extremely exciting decision.
Maidana is the kind of exciting ring warrior that boxing needs to have fighting high-profile fights. Fans are very likely to feel like they got their money's worth after any card on which he appears.
He is not the most technically skilled fighter around, but he is very skilled at doing the things he needs to do to win.
He would make for a potentially very exciting fight with Bradley, though a dangerous one.
Lucas Matthysse is yet another Argentinian fighter, with a record of 28(26)-2.
He lost a split decision to Devon Alexander last June, who was stopped by Bradley last January. Normally, I wouldn't advocate for a fight where one guy beat a common opponent and one guy lost to the common opponent.
But like quite a few boxing observers, I don't think Matthysse lost that fight. And Matthysse's only other loss was another split decision that was criticized by many, to Zab Judah.
So, Matthysse is an exciting young fighter with only two hard luck losses on his record. He remains firmly in the Top 10 at junior welterweight and would make for a perfectly exciting HBO showdown with Bradley.
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Robert Guerrero last fought in April, winning a masterful unanimous decision against the relentless Michael Katsidis at lightweight.
He was all set for a big-time showdown against Maidana at 140 earlier this fall, but had to pull out when he injured his shoulder in training.
Guerrero is currently unranked at junior welterweight. His single fight at 140 was a near shutout of Bradley's upcoming opponent, Casamayor.
But Guerrero, who was already fighting on national stages as a young amateur, moves up to 140 with a 29(18)-1-1 record, a raft of alphabet soup titles and as much potential star power as nearly any other 20-something in the sport.