LAS VEGAS, USA – When Timothy Bradley’s name was first announced as the winner following the first clash with Manny Pacquiao two years ago, a thrill of glory rushed through his body, compelling him to climb atop the ring corner and raise his arms in victory.
Yet, instead of the crowd lauding him for his greatest victory, boos rained down on Bradley and his team, as the crowd voiced their disapproval of the split verdict. At that moment, all the joy from that night on June 9, 2012 had been drained out.
The lash back didn’t end there, though.
Bradley and his family allege that they received death threats via phone and letter in the months after, forcing Bradley, his wife and children to move from their home of five years to a more secure gated community.
“I got letters from fans just belittling me, saying that I wasn’t a true champion, don’t go patting yourself on the back, you didn’t win,” said Bradley. “I was like the laughing stock of the media. It was a bad moment. I was like ‘I don’t even want to box anymore, I don’t want to live anymore. This sucks. This is not how it’s supposed to be like.’
“Me and my wife would sit there and read all this stuff and get phone calls. And once the death threats rolled in, I was like ‘this is ridiculous.'”
Ray Bradley, Tim’s father, said that someone even called his private number promising to leave a “package” at his doorstep.
“It was hard, not only for him and his family but also for his sisters, us personally. I don’t know how people got my cell number but they got my cell number, they’re talking about sending me a package to my damn front door. UPS don’t call nobody and say they’re gonna send you a package,” said Ray Bradley.
“Of course it hurt me to see him going through pain and agony as a father because you feel those things yourself when things ain’t right with your kids. Whatever trials and tribulations they’re going through, you as a parent are going through the same thing because you wanna find help.”
Bradley’s trainer Joel Diaz also witnessed the difficulty that his fighter had gone through personally. Diaz said that Bradley had been in a wheelchair with a foot injury until December of that year, and in that time had blown up from his fighting weight of 147 pounds to 185.
“It was one of those things where you were supposed to feel good but didn’t,” said Diaz, a former pro during the 90s who once challenged for the IBF lightweight title. “Instead of facing the people, you had to hide from the people. He didn’t want to come out of his house, he was isolated. He calls you to go over and you see that look in his face where he feels depressed and he feels like he has a knot in his throat and wants to cry after winning, and going 12 rounds with Pacquiao.
“When you look at that kid and say ‘Man, he put in so much work and now he’s here in a wheel chair’ and he feels like crying, he feels like very emotional to the point where he tells me ‘Coach, I lost the love for the sport that I did for 18 years of my life.’ I asked him why, he says ‘Everything that’s going on, all these death threats, people calling me, people insulting me.”
The rematch between eight-division champion Pacquiao (53-5-2, 38 knockouts) and WBO welterweight champion Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) is set for this Saturday, April 12 (Sunday PH time). If Pacquiao is fighting for redemption, Bradley is fighting for validation.
The aftermath of the first fight with Pacquiao had taken its toll on the team, leaving Diaz to concede that it would’ve been better had they lost the fight instead.
“Boxing is a sport where you lose and you win. We are here ready to win, but if the loss comes, we can go home with a defeat, it’s not going to be the first or the last. And you know what? A defeat is better than a controversy because it hurts more when you’re with your family, your wife and you run into a bunch of people who are Manny Pacquiao fans and all you hear is insults, negative approaches and that is bad.
“You can’t say anything back because if you do you’re gonna have the whole world against you. You just put your head down and walk away. “
Bradley’s road back to the ring wasn’t paved in gold, but rather in shards of broken glass. The opponents offered to Bradley, like fringe contender Jessie Vargas, weren’t on the level of a Pacquiao fight. With few options, Bradley accepted a bout with Ruslan Provodnikov in March of 2013, a relatively unknown, hard-punching Siberian who is trained by Pacquiao’s coach Freddie Roach.
Bradley struggled to make the weight, being forced to sit in a sauna to shed pounds before the weighin for the first time in his career. Once the fight began, Bradley was dropped twice before rising off the canvas to win a decision. Afterwards Bradley revealed that he had felt concussed and was forced to take more time off.
Bradley’s performance in his next and most recent bout – a decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez last October – was far less taxing, as he utilized his boxing skills to outmaneuver the aging Mexican. If the Provodnikov fight revealed his internal fortitude, the Marquez fight revealed his class as a technician, as Marquez had knocked out Pacquiao in his previous bout.
For the Pacquiao fight, Diaz says that Bradley has none of the weight issues that plagued him in recent fights. “We’ve been on weight now for two weeks.”
Diaz says that Bradley has had his best training camp, motivated by the opportunity to put the most emotionally conflicting experience of his career behind him.
“We prepared different and harder because we know there’s a lot at stake for this,” said Diaz. “Both fighters need to prove a lot. Manny Pacquiao needs to prove that he’s still in the boxing world for the big fights. Bradley needs to prove to the world that if he didn’t beat him the first time, he’s going to beat him this time.” – Rappler.com
More Rappler coverage of Pacquiao-Bradley II from Las Vegas
Who really won Pacquiao-Bradley I?
WATCH: Bob Arum says Pacquiao should consider retirement if he loses bad
Pressure is on Pacquiao to prove he’s still lethal
WATCH: Pacquiao strength coach Fortune talks conditioning
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