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Is Tim Bradley’s career worthy of Hall of Fame status?

DSC_6741(Photo credit: Steve Lopez) By Simon Hirst: Tonight, Tim Bradley will defend his WBO light welterweight title against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas in what is a highly anticipated bout between the two Manny Pacquiao conquerors. Tim Bradley has openly said that winning this fight stamps his ticket into the hall of fame, which could be seen as a somewhat premature and controversial statement.

In looking over Bradley’s career, he won the WBC title via split decision over Junior Witter. It was a somewhat farcical decision as there was no doubt Bradley won the fight and to think Witter would have retained via draw had it not been from a booming overhand right in the 6th round. He then fought Kendall Holt in which Holt knocked him down twice, before using his boxing to claim a unanimous decision.

A no contest over a shot Nate Campbell in which one could probably presume Bradley would have won with how the fight was going and a very good wins over Lamont Peterson and Luis Carlos Abregu followed. He then fought Devon Alexander in a fight between two young Americans who were undefeated. Amir Khan aside, this was easily the best fight that could be made at the time, but unfortunately, they didn’t gel together in the ring. Bradley ended the fight early in the 10th round when a head-butt opened up a huge cut on Alexander who was deemed unfit to continue, giving Bradley another belt via a technical decision. In hindsight, no-one was overly surprised with the headbutt situation as it was something that happened throughout the fight and something that had happened in previous fights. After refusing a bout with Amir Khan for that summer, Bradley opted to fight a shot Joel Casamayor with whom he defeated with ease.

This gained him a shot at Manny Pacquiao. It was an interesting fight to the public. Bradley was so convinced he would win that he printed a huge ticket to advertise the rematch. Pacquiao, although still on a winning streak, was showing signs of ageing with many questioning his killer instinct after his poor showing against Shane Mosley and in allowing Antonio Margarito to finish the fight rather than step up his attack to get the KO like he had done with Miguel Cotto. In the fight itself, Manny Pacquiao was hurting Bradley and again, in the last couple of rounds, took his foot of the gas. However, almost everybody was in no doubt who won the fight, so when ‘Desert Storm’ Timothy Bradley was announced the winner, the boo’s that rained down on him were to no surprise. Not that this stopped Bradley from celebrating like he knew he had genuinely won. After watching a replay of the decision, it is only after Buffer announces one judge had it to Bradley did he even consider he might get the decision. Prior to that, he looked and behaved like he was the loser.

Bradley took time off, over 9 months to be exact, and fought Ruslan Providnikov in what was meant to be a tough, winnable fight for Bradley to ease him back to the mega fights and build his confidence. What occurred was a fight in two. Provodnikov showed stunning power in wobbling Bradley continuously and knocking him down. The other part of the fight was Bradley out boxing Provodnikov. The latter was ruled to happen more and Bradley won a very tight unanimous decision. You would argue however that Provodnikov came out of the fight with more credit than Bradley although many commended Bradley’s heart to keep in there and fight the way to win.

In concluding Bradley’s career, is it a hall of fame career? Controversial wins over Alexander and Pacquiao in his two biggest fights to date, coupled with the avoidance of Amir Khan and wins over shot fighters don’t make a hall of fame career for this writer. A win over Marquez depends on how he wins if it is to enhance his career. A controversial win adds to the Pacquiao decision. Only a clear, perhaps close, but fair win would enhance Bradley’s career. That is a big ask, it is possible, but it will be tough. Many believe with Bradley being hurt a few times previously against Holt, Pacquiao and Provodnikov, Marquez has an excellent chance.

If Bradley comes through Marquez, it wouldn’t be guaranteed that Bradley goes in the hall of fame. Bradley still has many opponents out there he would need to beat to gain that privilege. Floyd Mayweather, Amir Khan, Danny Garcia are just a handful of names Bradley would have to face at welterweight and if the possibility of moving up came about, there is Saul Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Austin Trout to face. Bradley should forget about looking how good his career is and whether it merits HoF status and concentrate on enhancing it and leaving no doubt he is a worthy inductee when it’s time for him to hang them up.

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