Bradley Finally Gets A Break

So we now know that Floyd Mayweather has lost his World Boxing Organization world welterweight title, by order of the WBO, and that the belt will go to the wildly talented, though frustrating, Timothy Bradley. Clearly, this doesn’t mean much to the undefeated Mayweather. If it did, he would have held on to the WBO strap.

The WBO’s decision does, however, mean something for Bradley, for it arguably saves him from boxing’s margins which – let’s face it – is where he’s pretty much been since he decisively lost his rematch to Manny Pacquiao back in 2014. Being a Top Tank fighter can be hard in the Haymon era, after all. And being a Top Rank fighter not named Pacquiao can be downright brutal.

Bradley mixes it up with Pacquiao.
Bradley mixes it up with Pacquiao.

But now Bradley will once again hold the major belt he first won when he defeated Pacquiao on the scorecards back in 2012 in one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history. Floyd can go through the rest of his career title-free, if he wants to, and it would make virtually zero difference to his legacy or his bargaining power. But other boxers, even top-notch ones, aren’t so fortunate. Bradley may be a great athlete, but he’s yet to prove he really belongs in the Mayweather-Pacquiao stratosphere. Then again, no one else in the welterweight or junior welterweight divisions are at that level, either.

That means there’s going to be a void as wide as a black hole once Floyd finally rides off into the sunset. And when that happens, things like the WBO world welterweight title belt are going to matter. Believe it. In order to come close to filling Floyd’s shoes, the next “big” welterweight is going to have to be decorated like George C. Scott in the opening scene of Patton. The public, and especially casual fans, are going to need to know exactly why boxers like Bradley, Keith Thurman, Amir Khan and the like are worth pay-per-view dollars. In short, having something tangible at stake in major welterweight bouts could prove helpful.

Did Roach give Pac the wrong game plan?
After his win over Pac, Floyd needs no trinkets.

The problem with Bradley is that he’s something of a loose cannon. This golden opportunity might slip through his hands just as fast as Jessie Vargas can throw and land a clean shot. Joel Diaz is a knowledgeable, passionate trainer (as well as a great guy to talk to) but Bradley doesn’t listen to his ring general nearly as much as he should.

With a match with the talented Sadam Ali looming on the horizon, Bradley simply must discipline himself. No longer can he go off the wall and engage in a highly ill-advised slugfest as he did with the far less skilled Ruslan Provodnikov. He not only has a title to look out for, Bradley has his health and the well-being of his family to think of as well. Needless blows, of the sort Bradley admitted he received from Provodnikov, and even Vargas, must now be avoided if the man who calls himself “Desert Storm” hopes for any longevity as champion.

Indeed, the Bradley who fought Juan Manuel Marquez in 2013 was an elite level fighter, a controlled, efficient pro who would give anyone he met in the ring a real run. That is the Bradley fans must see, even if they find him “boring,” if Bradley plans on significantly furthering his career.

As for Mayweather, who is now technically the former WBO world welterweight champion, he’s well over $200 million dollars wealthier than he was just six months ago. And because he bested Pacquiao soundly, he is now pretty much immune to criticism that he doesn’t challenge himself. Sure, there will always be people who will claim he waited too long to face PacMan, that he avoided Antonio Margarito and a prime Mosley, and so on and so on. But those criticisms will largely fall on deaf ears over time, much as criticism of Rocky Maricano’s “slim” record have pretty much faded away since the 1950s. People are remembered more for what they did than for what they might have done. And Mayweather faced and defeated the biggest threat of his career.

Will Thurman come calling for that WBO belt?
Will Thurman come calling for that WBO belt?

In short, the guy who calls himself “Money” can now take it easy. He doesn’t need the WBO belt. He doesn’t need another “Fight Of The Century.” And he certainly doesn’t need to get it on with someone as formidable as Bradley. He just doesn’t. And that, more than for any other reason, is why a Mayweather vs Bradley fight will never happen.

Fighters aiming to end up where Mayweather is now, however, may well have to face Bradley sooner or later. Cold War or no Cold War, fans will nag at top boxers like Keith Thurman or Amir Khan if they appear to be ducking someone as talented and proven as Bradley simply because Al Haymon and Bob Arum are terminally at odds.

That’s why Monday’s development is good news for “Desert Storm” and his team. As long as Bradley keeps on his game, people will eventually have to come to him. In other words, there’s no reason for the man to take risks, in or out of the ring.

And that means no rising up in weight to face the likes of Gennady Golovkin. You can kiss that dream fight goodbye.              — Sean Crose

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