(Photo via Stephanie Trapp,Trappfotos)
The Manny Pacquiao conqueror in a 2010 interview talks about steroids, not getting a big fight, signing with Cameron Dunkin, being dropped by Kendall Holt, watching tape on his opponents, and picking up a new tool from Junior Witter.
Back in 2010, myself as well as Brent Alderson and Otis Griffin hosted an almost every Tuesday Unternet boxing radio show of which there are now many. On the March 9 edition, we had Timothy Bradley as a guest and a yet to appear on HBO version of the fighter showed the personality that existed all along before it was blasted to the masses via HBO’s 24/7. Bradley had a number of interesting things to offer his opinion on, including early thoughts on the Pacquiao-Bradley drug testing drama.
Mark Ortega: What are your feelings on Alexander-Urango being for the WBC title that they made you vacate and it being a unification fight?
No feelings whatsoever man. These guys are gonna do whatever they want to do. I still got my WBC title over here. I don’t have any quarrels with anyone man. Give me an opportunity to fight for it back. This is the guy they wanted me to face. I didn’t think he was worthy at the time, and now he is making noise in the division. Let’s make it happen. Boxing is a business as well, man. It’s not just to get in there to fight someone, if it don’t make dollars it don’t make sense. That is the only way I will fight him, if it makes sense to me money wise. Other than that I feel he is the #2 fighter in the division behind myself and I would love to get it on with Devon Alexander.
Brent Alderson: Lamont Peterson is a bad dude and Peterson would be live against both of those guys this weekend. Don’t you feel Lamont is one of the best guys in the division?
Absolutely. It is going to be hard for somebody to beat him, I’m serious. It is going to take a very tough tough fighter to beat Lamont Peterson. I could see Lamont Peterson beating Devon Alexander. I could see him beating [Juan] Urango. I could see Lamont Peterson beat, who’s that boy they’re trying to get him in the ring with, [Edwin] Valero. Lamont is tough. He comes to fight. I think Lamont Peterson is one of the better fighters in the division. I think he is much better than Urango. Urango is a one-dimensional fighter, he is pretty predictable. His style never changes, he comes forward, is in your face. He’s a big puncher but you can isolate that like Alexander did, with a good jab and movement, and set him up with big punches.
Mark Ortega: That being said, Urango had only really been buzzed by Randall Bailey, who is known for his one punch power. He was known for being able to take punishment and Alexander got him out of there before the final bell. Did that leave a lasting impression on you at all for how good Alexander could be?
Nah. He’s a good young fighter, no doubt. He has been taught very well by [trainer Kevin] Cunningham. It was an impressive knockout. That uppercut, they worked on it. That was the game plan, that uppercut, when Urango moved in, he was lined up for it. They were both southpaws and it was right there for the taking and he did what he was supposed to do. It impressed me that he was able to get it out of there.
Otis Griffin: What do you think these people want from you? You’ve done it all, gone overseas on Showtime into Manchester and beat one of their best. After that you fought a great champion Kendall Holt in a unification bout. You beat the youngsters up and coming. But it seems like nobody wants to give you credit, is it because they take your meekness for weakness, what is it?
I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. After the Lamont Peterson fight, a lot of boxing writers pretty much put me as the #1 fighter at 140. They’re still giving me that respect. After watching what Devon Alexander did to Urango, it was [HBO commentator] Max Kellerman still that said that even though this happened the way it did and Alexander was able to get Urango out there, Tim Bradley is still #1 in my eyes.
MO: Do you think the opposite has happened? Where people are keeping you from those paydays because they think you are too dangerous?
It could be. It could be that I’m not that known. I’ve only fought probably about eight times on television. I’m not as big as they want me to be right now. Even though I’m making a lot of noise, I’m still not big, like a lot of people don’t really know me. I just think that I don’t really sell the tickets like I’m supposed to and that is probably what is hurting me and jeopardizing the fight with a big name. When they can fight someone who is a lot older in the game, like a Shane Mosley, a [Ricky] Hatton, or a Manny, people that have names, even Zab Judah. They can fight these names and make more money. The risk is too high. I’m always ready for these fights man. It’s 50/50 every time I get into the ring. I don’t feel I have the upper hand on anybody and that is why I always prevail.
BA: You’re just on the cover of RING Magazine, the main guy on the cover of the oldest boxing magazine since 1922. Were you happy about that, did you like that?
That’s so crazy man. I’m so humbled by it, couldn’t believe it. I had a 12-page spread in there. It is awesome, did you get a chance to read the story yet?
BA: I haven’t got it yet I have a subscription and it hasn’t come yet but I’ve read excerpts of it on the internet. I’ve felt that after Manny Pacquiao you’ve probably fought the highest level of competition in boxing. I don’t know anyone else who has fought the better competition in the last two years than you.
MO: It’s just disappointing that let’s say Bradley fought Zab Judah instead of any of the last three guys he’s fought, he might be a bigger name because Judah is still relevant to casual fans, that might have done more Bradley as far as filling seats but it isn’t one that would have meant anything. Are you starting to look at fights like that? Would you fight a Zab Judah even though he hasn’t really proven himself to be a credible contender or worthy to get a title shot? Is that a guy you’d be willing to fight knowing what you can gain from that?
We went after Zab, we went after all the top guys. Everybody is fighting besides me. I don’t have a fight, don’t know when I’m fighting. I’m just training in the gym, not trying to train too hard, just staying in the gym, keeping my muscles and my boxing skills still flowing. Am just waiting, waiting on a phone call. They told me June 5, but it could be later. I don’t know what’s going on. I missed the first half. I like to stay busy because it keeps me sharp, keeps me hungry. Now I’m just sitting back. I just feel like they are stalling me out of the game right now.
MO: Is that one of the reasons you signed Cameron Dunkin as your manager was hoping that with everything he has done for other fighters that you could get to that next level where you’re starting to get fights against these top draws?
Absolutely, that was one of the main reasons I signed Cam, to have a second option and second opinion. My promoters were pretty much running my career and I was pretty much just sitting back going, “Yes sir, no sir, yes sir, no sir.” Now when I have a voice, I don’t have to say “Yes sir, no sir.” He’s just waiting to hear back from the promoters.
MO: Wouldn’t you lay some of that on your promoter? He’s gotten you onto Showtime and all that but you still haven’t got the big money fight. Is that is something that has been on your mind when dealing with your promoter Gary Shaw, why haven’t you been getting these big fights?
I think it just comes down to I have to get these guys to want to fight me. Or I just have to continue on to win and hope they’ll fight me.
BA: It will happen Tim. It happened for [Bernard] Hopkins. If you keep winning, they can’t stop you.
OG: Tim, you know they call me Negrodamus, I can see the future. I’ve only been wrong about one fight, I called Danny Green against Roy Jones, Andre Ward against [Mikkel] Kessler. Don’t get frustrated like other boxers do. Don’t get caught up in the pile of tricks in fighting guys like Zab Judah, people that have done nothing to deserve to fight you. Sit back and I’ll tell you what’s gonna happen. One of these guys is gonna lose their next fight, Floyd [Mayweather] or Manny. And when one of those guys lose, Tim Bradley is going to slide in there and take over the throne.
BA: I wanted to talk about Joel Diaz, your trainer. Has he been training you since you were a little kid out there in Palm Springs?
Joel started training me five years ago. My father was training me amateur for a little while. I started amateur with a guy Russell Rodriguez, OJ, and my dad started training me. He used to train me amateur since I was I think 14. In that process my dad showed me everything that he learned and I needed that professional trainer. I knew Joel and what he had done with his brothers Julio and Antonio and saw what he had done so I asked him, would he train me? He said only on one condition, I’m going to rebuild you from the jab all the way up. Because it is a different level in the pros. I said okay so six months before my first professional fight I had to learn how to jab all over. I had to learn how to throw the right hand. He taught me how to fight on the inside, how to bang to the body, protect myself, take shots and give them back. When you saw the Lamont Peterson fight, that was my amateur experience. That is how I used to fight, I used to move, throw combinations. When you see me brawl that is the Joel style, come forward and get raw.
MO: Your fight against Peterson actually reminded me a little bit of another SoCal fighter who had pretty good handspeed and good boxing ability, but he liked to fight on the inside as well, Paul Banke. That guy could box but more often than not he warred it out with guys. He was a small guy, you’re a junior welterweight. You can outbox pretty much anyone it seems but you like to trade with your opponent. Is that to make yourself stand out more?
I think a little bit of it, I like to trade and I love the action. I just feel that I’m in such good shape I can wear down, that they’ll wear down before me. It’s part of my strategy, I like to come forward and wear you down and then pick you to pieces. I do like to mix it up in there. I probably do a little bit of mixing it up too much and get caught with shots that I shouldn’t but I have fun with it man. You don’t know what these judges are looking at. I fight two different styles because you got two, three different judges man. You don’t know what they’re looking at. I pressure because some judges like the pressure, some judges like the boxer so I try and do a bit of everything.
BA: How hurt were you against Kendall Holt in that 1st round, Tim?
When he hit me with that left, all I felt was the canvas. I felt my leg was numb, my head was buzzing. I was alright, I think the ground woke me up. I was out in the air and then BOOM. I couldn’t believe I was on my butt. I got up and had a conversation with God for a second and said, this ain’t how it’s supposed to go. Okay, you in control, let’s get back to work. It’s not supposed to end like this. I got back and went back to my corner. Joel Diaz is a very good corner man, he didn’t panic. He said “Hey, it happened, now you gotta go back to the gameplan. You gotta keep pressuring him, the only way you can get him.” I went in there and bit on my mouthpiece and I just went in there fighting. I knew Holt liked to fight in his own little pace so I had to do what I had to do.
MO: That knockdown looked pretty brutal the way you went down but when you got up you looked like you were pretty steady and you boxed brilliantly the rest of the fight even though you got knocked down again. Were you surprised Kendall lost a few weeks ago to a guy he was a huge favorite against (Kaizer Mabuza)?
Nah, nah. I wasn’t really surprised at all because he don’t take the sport seriously. He has a lot of outside problems, things that have been going on in his life and he doesn’t take the sport seriously. I heard through the grapevine he doesn’t really train that hard like you’re supposed to. You can have the talent but if you don’t work hard too, you ain’t gonna make it, I’m sorry. Talent itself isn’t enough. Manny got talent, but he work hard. Floyd got talent, but he work hard. Bernard too. Bernard to me is one of the best fighters in the world, because of how old he is, how wise he is in the ring. You look at a Bernard Hopkins fight, he is something to look at, he is a specimen. I love to watch him fight, and like James Toney too, even though he doesn’t come like you’re supposed to come. Toney just impresses me because he stands right in front of you and don’t get hit, he’s clever, and I love that.
OG: You definitely named some guys I studied coming up the ranks also. I noticed you are a very well-rounded boxer like everyone has been saying. Your ability to switch up strategies during a round and after a round has to come from a lot of sparring and a lot of rounds in preparation. Who are you working with, are you working with young guys, what kind of guys are you bringing to your camp?
Pretty much guys with the same style as the opponent. We try and put it together like a puzzle. When we go to training camp, I get a video tape, my trainer get a video tape. I already know most of the guys because I watch them all, I’m always studying fights. I know how I would beat them. My trainer watches and studies the fights. He brings a gameplan, I bring mine, my dad brings his. We look at certain punches he likes to land. We look at odd things, how well his output is, how much he punches. Where he is comfortable at. If he throws 60 punches a round, we want to make him work more, but stay on top of him. Smart pressure. Always having something in his face and making him swing when he don’t want to. My ability to change strategies is just my will to win. My dad always says to find the key. Once I find that, I’m gonna continue on to do it. Once you figure me out I’m gonna switch it up again on you. I just try and win every single round, not to lose a round.
BA: You were quoted as saying Pacquiao-[Joshua] Clottey is a joke. You don’t think he has much of a shot this weekend do you?
He’s getting knocked out, Manny is knocking Clottey out.
MO: Clottey man, that guy got put down by a jab against [Miguel] Cotto but that just looked like a balance shot. I’ve never seen him hurt for more than a second. He recovers really fast and his defense is so good. You think Pacquiao’s speed will overwhelm him and that is how he gets knocked out?
It is his footwork. Pacquiao fights on angles. One minute he’s in your face, next he is off to the side, and it is so hard to keep up with that. One minute he is going to be right in front of him, then he’ll be to the side. I don’t care if he has both those hands up, something is getting through them gloves, man. He’s smart, he’s a smart fighter. He has something that a lot of fighters don’t have, his beliefs in his power comes from God. Man, it is gonna be hard for someone to beat this man. It is going to be really hard.
OG: Let’s play mythical matchup. If Floyd does get past Mosley and Pacquiao gets past Clottey, how do you see that fight matching up?
I’m going with Mayweather.
BA: Do you think it is really that bad for Floyd to ask for drug testing for Pacquiao? If somebody said to you that they want you to be drug tested regularly, do you think that is a problem? How do you feel about that not causing the fight to happen?
You know what man, I look back at that and say to myself, boxing, you don’t have all these anti-doping companies, or the U.S. whatever, you know that company that tests the Olympic athletes randomly. Boxing doesn’t have that, they only do the urine test. There are steroids you can take that can only be traced through your blood, not through your urine. I mean, if you asked any top professional athlete if he could take a substance out there that he won’t get caught and be strong and dominate the sport for a decade, more than 95 percent of the athletes would say heck yeah. Everybody wants to be on top, everybody wants to reign at the top. I think anybody is willing to take that gamble, that risk so they can be on top. You have a family to support so you want to be at your absolute best. Asking for a drug test, I don’t think that is wrong, he is taking one too. He has a point. How are you going to come from 106 pounds on up to 147 pounds and keep your power. I understand his work ethic but that is unheard of. I ain’t never seen anybody be able to do that.
OG: Be able to take a shot, that is the thing that amazes me. Because I’ve done that, I went up to cruiserweight and boxed a guy’s ears off for a number of rounds but the moment he caught up with me and that extra 40 pounds hit me, I was like, “Whoa.” Even blocking it is like man, it is like a wrecking ball hitting the building.
You’re right. Do I think Manny is taking steroids? No, I don’t think he is taking steroids. I think his work ethic, you see how hard this guy trains. He trains like no other. And his belief and the strength comes from God. I don’t think he is taking any steroids. If he ain’t doing anything, why not do the drug test?
MO: One thing you mentioned earlier, you study a lot of tape on your weight class. The way you’ve been talking about every fighter we brought up it is obvious you follow boxing pretty heavily. Is it surprising to you that a lot of fighters say they don’t watch much tape, because that seems like a pretty good tool to prepare for a fight.
The tapes come to my house first and I distribute it out. I’m the one getting them. My trainer will want it, I get a copy from him. Watching tape man is very important. Everybody don’t come into a fight the same. But you get to see their best punches, what makes them comfortable in the ring and not comfortable in the ring. I started reading tapes when I went up with Al Mitchell up there in Marquette, Michigan. Al taught me how to read tapes, how to read fighters and look for things in fighters. You have to look for certain things. I credit Al for teaching me how to do that. When we used to go to tournaments and stuff I was the only one who could talk outside of the ring to the fighters in the ring because I was able to read the other fighter. Most guys don’t. My buddy Andre Berto, he will say he watched one round of such and such. “I just like to go in there and do my thing.” Who was that lefty he got in with, Collazo.
OG: He put hands on Ricky Hatton, too.
You shoulda watched some tape, boy. I was just like man.
BA: Pernell Whitaker never watches tape, he swears to God that he never watched tape ever.
TB: Even when we sparred, everything had to be so perfect with Al. He would stop sparring. When you spar you’re not really getting a workout. Every like 30 seconds, “Stop! Why’d you do that!” Man, what am I doing right? I look for trends, I look for weaknesses. I stole this thing from Junior Witter because I had seen it in his fights and what he did. I did it to Kendall Holt. When he got to the inside, he’d beat you on the side of the head real quick before you protect yourself. When you got in the clinch he’d beat you on the side of your head.
OG: A lot of European guys do that, they call it the hockey punch.
Yeah, yeah. So, when I went into that fight, if you watch that over, you’ll see me doing it right back to him. I took that and ran with it. When I fought against Kendall, I needed to keep him frustrated and stay on him so every time I got on the inside I roughed him up, bang him in the side of the head. You see how frustrated he got. It’s all a strategy, man.
OG: Boxing is a science and it is crazy that fighters don’t look at it like that. By you doing that it probably increases 30% of your offense. What people don’t know is if you start beating a person with a free hand in the clinch is not only are you gonna wear them out, frustrate them, the judges are gonna think, “Hey this guy is working, he is winning this round, he’s throwing and landed an extra 10 punches.” Boxing is a science, you don’t see guys in NASA taking off in a shuttle without taking any test runs so you gotta watch some tape to pick up some things.