MANILA, Philippines – American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr. barely got any credit when he shockingly defeated Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao in controversial fashion in June 2012, but he rebounded with two solid victories in 2013.
In March 2013, Bradley was nearly knocked out and fought with a concussion, but managed to outpoint Russian brawler Ruslan Provodnikov in one of the best fights of the year.
In October, he took on Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez – who was then coming off a sensational sixth round knockout of Pacquiao – and claimed a split decision victory.
In a conference call on Saturday, Bradley expressed his belief that the experience he gained in his two fights against Provodnikov and Marquez will help him when he defends his WBO welterweight title against Pacquiao in their rematch on April 12.
“I have gained a lot of experience from my last two fights… one in particular, the one against Marquez, who is a great champion and a great fighter, legendary,” said Bradley. “And the fight against Provodnikov, the Fight of the Year.”
“So I am a different fighter now,” he stressed.
Bradley took on Provodnikov while still reeling from the backlash of the Pacquiao fight, and he has admitted that it affected his mindset and game plan. Instead of his usual slick boxing style, Bradley opted to go toe-to-toe with Provodnikov, and it resulted in him nearly getting knocked out.
“I thought that fight was just pure heart,” Bradley said of his performance against the Russian. “I was in a bad place mentally for that fight.”
“That’s the reason why I fought the way I fought that night with the controversy I went through, and that was my first fight back. I felt like I had a lot to prove to the fans and to myself, and prove to the world that I am a true champion that belongs at the top of boxing,” he added.
“That’s the reason I fought that way. I wanted to showcase what I was made of.”
Bradley said that against Provodnikov, he showed that he was “one tough cookie.” “Even on my worst day, I am hard to beat. So when I am 100%, it’s going to be harder to beat me. I am so mentally tough, no one can break me,” he boasted.
The unbeaten American considers his October 2013 showdown against Marquez as his “best night” in boxing.
“Marquez is one of the best counter-punchers in the game, and I out-fought this guy and out-counterpunched him. And Marquez has been in there against all the best fighters in the world,” he said.
“That was a sensational boxing lesson I put on Marquez that night, and it was one of the best moments I have had in my career. I had fun in there. I enjoyed how I was working and I enjoyed the fight and what I did in the ring,” he added.
Beating Provodnikov and Marquez in successive fights showed that he has grown as a fighter and is also capable of adjusting to any style, said Bradley.
“I think everybody has seen me grow in the last two years, and they see how confident I am and my ability. I fought two different styles and I was able to come out victorious,” Bradley said. “So a lot of people are definitely getting behind me right now.”
“They feel that Pacquiao is declining, and this is my time,” he added.
Bradley’s trainer, Joel Diaz, said the boxer has “all of the weapons packed up and ready to go” against Pacquiao.
“I know if Tim needs to go inside and brawl, he is going to do it. We are ready for everything. We are leaving nothing behind,” Diaz said.
“There are going to be times when he is going to be on the outside, and times when he will be one the inside. That all depends on Manny and what he’s got, and we make adjustments,” he added.
“If Manny’s going to bring it, we are going to be ready. If he’s going to hold back and box, Tim’s going to be ready. There is nothing we are going to be surprised about. We are going to have everything ready.”