Manny Pacquiao Endeared, Timothy Bradley Villainized?Written by Lee Cleveland
Is Timothy Bradley boxing's new 'bad boy?'
After defeating Manny Pacquiao, one of the most beloved figures in sports, Timothy Bradley may be the most disliked fighter in boxing because he 1) talked a lot of trash prior to the bout, 2) was, in the eyes of many, forced to 'eat his words' during the bout and 3 ) was still awarded an highly unpopular decision over one the world's most beloved athletes.
Most casual fans, undoubtedly surprised by Bradley's defiance and vocal bravado, knew little about him until his bout with Manny Pacquiao was made official last February. And while the masses took notice of Bradley's undefeated record, Vegan diet and muscular physique, it was 'Desert Storm's' brashness that stood out most.
Whether Timothy Bradley deserved to win against Manny Pacquiao is highly debatable but he was immensely successful in several areas.
Unknown to the masses a mere four months ago, Timothy Bradley has leaped into the public mainstream, invokes tremendous passion (albeit negative) amongst boxing fans and will undoubtedly be a hot ticket seller for quite some time.
Would the public's interest in and disdain for Timothy Bradley be this high if his persona was like Evander Holyfield's? Probably not.
Conversely, would the sheer mention of Bradley's name be invoking so much passion and fire among fans if his personality mimicked Andre Ward's? Probably not.
Expect fans to turn out in droves for Tim Bradley's next few fights because most will want to see him lose. Nevertheless, a lof fans will be interested in his future bouts and many will pay to watch.
Prior to last Saturday's bout, many thought Bradley's boastful pre-fight taunts were nothing more than a reckless attempt to sell himself and his big fight with Manny Pacquiao. After all, until recently 'Timothy Bradley' wasn't exactly a household name.
Timothy Bradley, previously untested against anyone on Pacquiao's level, boasted for months about how would defeat a 'slow' and 'reckless' Pacquiao. He boldy offered Manny a rematch weeks before the bout and hinted he was looking past Pacquiao for Floyd Mayweather, even taking verbal swipes at the 'Money' man.
And while some were impressed with his confidence, the masses seemingly took a bitter disliking to Timothy Bradley's attitude. After all, a lot of fans were vaguely familiar with him at best and resented his apparent lack of respect for Manny Pacquiao - a soft-spoken, good-natured sports legend who's accomplishments in the sport far exceeded Bradley's.
Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley Weigh-in
Adding to his already-growing "bad guy" persona, the Pacquiao vs Bradley weigh-in did little to change perceptions of Tim.
After being announced by new Hall of Famer Michael Buffer, Timothy Bradley stepped on the scale among a sea of boos. Perhaps surprised by the response of the crowd, Bradley began to scowl after hearing the disdain from the heavily Pro-Pacquiao crowd. And when Tim stood face-to-face with a smiling Pacquiao during the stare-down moments later, Timothy Bradley wore a hardcore grimace and, at that moment, graciously and officially accepted the role of villain.
Pictured: Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley weigh-in stare-down
Courtesy Chris Farina, Top Rank
When asked why he was smiling, the endearing Pacquiao responded peacefully. "I'm smiling because God is with me and I am very happy. I don't know why Bradley is so serious."
In stark contrast to Manny Pacquiao, the Bible-thumbing pugilist who recently set aside his vices to lead a wholesome life, Timothy Bradley uttered, "I'm ready for war. Getting the boos from the crowd doesn't bother me because they won't be in the ring with Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night. It's just going to be me and Manny. Bring it on. I'm ready to prove everybody wrong. They're going to see tomorrow...the more the merrier, baby...the more the merrier."
Whereas many fighters in Manny's shoes would have been belligerent after the decision, the soft-spoken Filipino slugger graciously uttered:
"I was very surprised with the result. He never once hurt me with his punches. Most of them landed on my arms. I did my best but I guess my best wasn't good enough.. I thought I absolutely won the fight and I thought it was very clear to everyone watching."
Given Tim Bradley's perceived persona heading into his bout with Manny Pacquiao, the outrage that has ensued what many believe was a woefully undeserving win has seemingly tanked what little 'warm and fuzzy' public sentiment he carried into the bout.
Even defiant in victory, an unapologetic Bradley insists his victory was well-deserved much to the chagrin of many who saw the fight.
A boxing match is like a cowboy movie. There's got to be good guys and there's got to be bad guys. And that's what people pay for - to see the bad guys get beat. But in my cowboy movie, the bad guy always wins.
-Sonny Liston, Former Heavyweight Champion
Have the judges, by awarding Timothy Bradley a seemingly undeserved victory, done Timothy Bradley a disservice?
In terms of Bradley's overall popularity/approval rating, perhaps they have. He may never be endeared by the masses the same way Manny Pacquiao is. But Saturday's decision cemented Tim Bradley, at least temporarily, as a 'bad boy' of boxing - a fighter fans will love to hate and pay to see.
Timothy Bradley Pre-Fight Quotes
"Marquez will be 39. If I beat Marquez I probably won't get the credit I deserve."
"I feel that the time is right for a win against Pacquiao. I believe that he's on a downward slide and he hasn't knocked out an opponent since 2009. He's been suffering from leg and foot cramps in his last two fights, and he just hasn't looked right."
"There will definitely be a lot of animosity in the air that night (at the fight)," Tim Bradley said. "This fight is more personal for me than people realize."
"Pacquiao has made a big mistake by even taking this fight. Freddy's plan is going to backfire on him... I'll be the one making the statement."
Courtesy Chris Farina, Top Rank
"Manny Pacquiao can have Roach. My trainer is better."
"He (Freddie Roach) can say whatever he wants to say, man. I do my talking in the ring. I will say this though: Khan don't want no part of me man. If I ever get in the ring with him, oh man, I mean, this guys gonna get it...I'd do that one for free."
"Hey, if Pacquiao wants to do it again, I have no problem with that."
"When I set foot in the ring, I'm home. As soon as this guy hits me with his best punch and I eat that mother (expletive), the fight's over."
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.