By Kieran Mulvaney
Timothy Bradley Jr. is a passionate guy at the best of times; his proverbial heart firmly affixed to his proverbial sleeve, he eschews filters and willingly shares his thoughts on any subject. So much so that he has discussed at length the fact that he had been badly concussed during his brutal 12-round war with Ruslan Provodnikov last year. In an age where public figures in general, and athletes in particular, often appear guarded and practiced in their public utterances, it’s an outlook that is as refreshing as it can be disarming.
In the build-up to this Saturday’s rematch with Manny Pacquiao, however, Bradley has at times seemed to turn the dial all the way up to 11, as Nigel Tufnell might say. But if anyone questions why the undefeated welterweight title holder might be carrying a chip on his shoulder in the aftermath of his highly disputed points victory over Pacquiao in 2012, it’s worth listening to some thoughts he shared with a handful of reporters at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this week. Here’s what he said when asked to describe what his life was like in the weeks and months that followed his first go-round with the Filipino icon:
“I would go to a gas station, and [people in another car would] leave and then they’d shout something. ‘You didn’t win that fight, you didn’t beat Pacquiao.’ ‘Yeah, you’re driving away right now; you’re not going to say that face.’ And then occasionally you’ll get some brave guys who want me to slap them upside the head, but I’m not going to get in a lawsuit. I learned from a lot of guys. When I make a mistake, it’s going to be something you ain’t seen before. But I’m not going to slap anybody.
“It’s really hard to swallow. That night, man, I did my job. Everybody blamed me for it, but I just did my job, man, that’s all I did. I thought the fight was very close. I thought the decision could go either way. But the fact that they gave it to me: I thought it was fair. There are a lot of fights that Pacquiao has been in and he got the decision, and the fans didn’t think it was fair.
“Me and my wife would be sitting there in bed reading all this stuff. We’d get phone calls. Once a death threat arrived in the mail, I was like, ‘This is ridiculous.’ Plus, I got letters from fans just belittling me like crazy, telling me I’m not a true champion, and ‘Don’t go patting yourself on the back, you didn’t win.’ And I’m like, ‘Man, this sucks.’ And I was the laughing stock of the media. It was a bad moment. I didn’t know if I wanted to box any more, I didn’t know if I even wanted to live any more. ‘This sucks, man, this isn’t what it’s supposed to be like.’
“The turning point was getting away. I didn’t read anything. I don’t read too much anymore. I realized the important things in my life. I realized what was important in my life. I realized who is important. I can accept criticism. I don’t care anymore. I got told every word that could possibly be said to me. Now, don’t nothing affect me. You can tell me I suck, that I’m the worst fighter in the world, that I’m a horrible human being. I’m just going to look at you and laugh. I know who I am. I’m a great fighter.”